Coronavirus lockdown has birthed a new trend: Bollywood celebrities and their COVID Candid Content ™
Celebrity COVID candid (CCC) content is now a real thing.
It’s week four of this lockdown and there’s a question that’s been gnawing at my privileged Indian middle-class mind since Day 1. When washing dishes (yes, I know this is not an earth shattering topic but seeing as I am spending a significant part of my days washing dishes, this is important to me), do you rinse off all the food, lather each utensil and then rinse them all in one go or do you wash them individually? The former works for me but my husband insists the latter is more efficient.
Then, I came across a video that Katrina Kaif posted on her official Instagram account. Standing in front of a sink full of dirty dishes, Katrina asked the very same question that had kept me up nine nights in a row.
I felt like that guy in the “girl standing in front of a boy” scene from Notting Hill. “Yes, I’ll dump my husband and marry you” was my first reaction when I looked at that beautiful face scrubbed of make-up. A black apron over a striped tee and shorts, sporting a messy ponytail, Katrina looked a far cry from her usual glamorous self but I am not going to lie, it’s this video that’s won her a fan for life. Who would have ever thought I’d have something in common with Katrina Kaif?
I now think of us as BBFs (bartan buddies forever).
In other equally important news, Vicky Kaushal has finally learnt to flip an omelette. I can pat myself on the back for having used the excess years I have on him for perfecting the art… wait for it… without the use of a spatula. Yes, you heard me right. Just me and a pan and a flick of my wrists. I’ve never made besan laddoos, and by now you probably know where I’m going with this, but if Malaika Arora wants to make besan laddoos, I’d watch. Every. Single. Time.
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I love to cook! I love cooking for my family and friends but with my busy schedule, I hardly get time to pursue this passion of mine. But with this self isolation upon us, I thought of utilising this time in a constructive and healthy way by cooking some sumptuous and delicious 'Malabari veg stew for the soul'. I have got this recipe from mom @joycearora and a bit from my friend Maunika @cookinacurry who's a lovely cook. Everyone at home simply loves this stew and we are going to have it with some white rice and some delicious gluten-free, vegan chickpea bread that my friend Raveena @iamayogisattva made for me. M in for a lovely treat, I hope you too utilise this time to do something positive and healthy. Stay calm and stay safe! #stayhome#quarantine #covid_19
It wasn’t always this way though. I’d stop to watch celebrity videos on social media if it was work related, but there’s never been a personal connect to any of it. Celebrities thrive on attention and social media has given them a direct connection with millions of fans. And, for these fans, stars put out daily content. In the pre-pandemic world, this ranged from film announcements to glamorous headshots and in some cases hawking wares. That’s changed to a large degree since the lockdown started. Celebrity COVID candid (CCC) content is now a real thing.
Not everyone’s a fan though, as is evident by the sheer volume of online trolling that’s been happening on some of these posts. While Shah Rukh Khan might have mostly gotten it right with measured humour in an early PSA, not everyone did. Karthik Aryan’s Pyar ka Punchnama style monologue urging people to stay home might have had appeal for his fans, but evoked an equal number of facepalms from others. Varun Dhawan’s rap left many speechless but then that’s expected when your lyrics go, "Ghar se bahar nikala to corona hoga, gedi kiya to corona hoga, pyaar kia to dil tutega, dil tutega to dard hoga... kyu... its ****** lockdown."
To someone watching closely though, there have been two distinct phases of CCC content.
The first wave started during more innocent times (three whole weeks back) with a bunch of hand washing videos featuring celebrities showing us that they could have made it as hand models too. While some of them used the prescribed twenty seconds to make washing hands look like a sexual activity, others just spouted ‘gyaan’— it’s one thing to play a superhero on screen, it’s another to make hand washing look like a superpower.
A lot of the early celebrity posts were about using their huge follower counts to spread important messages on safety, hygiene and staying indoors. The initial excitement of seeing one’s favourite stars wearing no make-up and doing stuff you wouldn’t expect them to be doing, might have gotten eyeballs but a lot of it reeked of privilege.
But wait… all of this was three weeks back.
As the days turned into weeks of self-isolation, the gloss of privilege seems to have worn off from most of the celebrity posts we’re seeing now and a lot of it has begun to look real.
Most of us are privileged enough to be locked up at home, forced to do pretty much the same mundane things, from cooking and cleaning to finding new ways to kill time. If there are times when you find yourself going stir-crazy, there’s no reason why it should be any different for our stars. Deepika Padukone is labelling everything around her (including her husband) while Katrina has moved on from cleaning videos to teaching herself how to play the guitar. Farhan Akhtar posted a video of girlfriend Shibani Dandekar going nose-to-snout with their new pup, Karan Johar’s cute twins are trolling everything from his fashion sense to his singing while Anil Kapoor showed the world how to have a long distance relationship with the ‘boy next door’ (Anupam Kher).
Some of it is delightful, some of it is weird and some of it is downright funny. But the cringe factor has long gone, because nothing about any of this seems manufactured any more. It’s not scripted, it’s not about getting likes and it’s not about increasing follower count — these celebrity posts just seem to be an outlet for many of them, like it is for us. Yes, there are those who’re still posting thirst traps every once in a while, but this is the most candid we’ve ever seen most of our celebrities ever be.
This pandemic may still not be the great equaliser that some had thought it would be, but you’d have to be living in la-la-land to even believe that was a remote possibility. If nothing else, all this CCC content is a great distraction from the stories of doom floating around. It’s a welcome respite for a few minutes every day, and for that, Katrina & Co. will have my eternal gratitude.
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