Spoilers Ahead by Rajeev Masand: A few foreign fumbles
India’s attitude to Hollywood celebrities is a weird mix of reverence and revulsion. Surely we can work out a healthier mix?
If all the paparazzi videos from last month’s Ambani shindig are any indication, the celebrities who descended on Mumbai must have had a lot to talk about on the charter flight back to Los Angeles. From the complete mutilation of poor Zendaya’s name on the red carpet (“Aye Jhandeya, turn left, turn right, look centre”) to Gigi Hadid’s sheer horror at being roughhoused by Varun Dhawan on stage (which she later clarified was planned)…surely the Americans had earned their pay-day for the visit.
When Will Smith visited Mumbai several years ago, I remember the MC asking him to repeat a bunch of phrases in Hindi. The room was amused, both because of his American accent and because he was made to say silly lines that he’d never have uttered if he knew what they meant. When Tom Cruise left India after attending the premiere of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation in 2011, he probably went back with a heavy heart after a prominent newspaper ran a story that the host studio hired 200 ‘extras’ to pose as screaming fans to create a frenzy around the arrival of the global superstar. The notion of having to pay people to turn up to cheer for Cruise sounds outrageous, no doubt, but shockingly it’s also a reflection of the sheer ignorance of his appeal.