Keeping Up With The Kapoors: Has India's first film family become Bollywood counterpart of the Kardashians?
From Taimur Ali Khan's first birthday to Ranbir Kapoor's love life, the paparazzi loves tracking them as much as they do the Kardhashians in Hollywood.
It took some by surprise when, in 2012, Kim Kardashian committed to freezing her eggs on reality TV and then actually did it. But with Keeping Up with the Kardashians, a TV show just about the Kardashian family’s bizarre, super rich lives, having become a global obsession, freezing eggs was a logical viewership milestone.
Kim, Khloe and their half sisters, Kendall and Kylie, own million dollar lifestyle businesses. Between them, there are over 133 million following them on Twitter. With their shopping trips, lunch dates, regular cribs, work out sessions and simulated, high life, the Kardashians gave voyeurism a heightened degree of legitimacy and consistent success. They just need to step out of their homes today to make news.
Here in India, a similar phenomenon is visible today, with the Kapoor khandaan. True, they are the first family of Bollywood. But they always were. The difference now is that a multitude of paparazzi lens is stationed right at this bunch, spreading across the family tree. Their homes, cars, gyms, coffee hang outs and all that goes with it are constantly tracked by photographers or fans posing for photos. Photos of what the Kapoors were up to have become a lazy, regular morning indulgence for online readership in India.
Kareena and Saif Ali Khan Pataudi’s cute, cuddly baby boy Taimur can officially be termed as a new phenomenon in the Indian celebrity universe. He is the biggest celebrity baby star we have ever had. What began with the gorgeous, dimpled AbRam Khan when TV cameras at an IPL match spotted him has come full circle with Taimur. His celebrity evolved organically, with over 5 lakh followers on Instagram (and counting) and a collection of fan clubs. Every little move and mood of this baby boy has been tracked relentlessly, also finding consistent news space. Online, his fan clubs have given him a nickname — Pukulu, which means flower in Tulu. Sweet, right? Only, for a couple that is not on social media, fans taking on the mantle of naming their son is a bit incongruous.
The Taimur effect has extended to his cousin sister Inaaya Naumi Kemmu. She might be an infant but this daughter of Kunal Kemmu and Soha Ali Khan has brought unmatched levels of attention to her parents online. Ironically, Soha has recently released her book The Perils of Being Moderately Famous. At a star studded book launch where her brother Saif, sister-in-law Kareena and mother Sharmila Tagore had interesting anecdotes to share, Soha admits to not being a bonafide star. Yet, holding her baby girl at the airport has exponentially expanded her celebrity status.
The fascination with Soha’s daughter Inaaya and Saif’s son, Taimur, extends to the banal. At an interview, Kareena was asked on how she picks clothes for her baby boy. Soha’s statement at an event, that her brother Saif worries when both babies are together as his son now flings things around, made headlines. It is a logical conversation most new parents would be having around us. yet when it’s the Kapoor babies, it is news worthy.
With the Kapoor khandaan, what’s most interesting is the evolving graph of paparazzi attention. When Karisma Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan were dating, she had enthusiastically led the wedding events for his sister. Not a single photograph ever made it to print. Today, when she dines with her ex-husband and takes her son Kiaan along, photographs raise speculations around them. That Karishma has had a harrowing divorce is public knowledge, having made it to the front pages of newspapers. Yet the reclusive sister gets clicked all the time, everywhere.
Kareena Kapoor, on the other hand, seems to have accepted the paparazzi scrutiny with ease. The regularity with which her getting back in shape journey has been documented, one wonders if her gym was a coffee and cigarettes pit stop for photographers! Kareena’s gym trips are regular coverage updates, apart from all else around her beautiful life.
In a twist to this saga, Saif Ali Khan’s children with ex wife Amrita Singh have become huge celebrities in their own right. Sara Ali Khan is set to make her film debut this year. Consequently, everything from a pedicure to a coffee to a spa trip with her actor mother gets clicked and commented upon. Her brother Ebrahim is also becoming a paparazzi favorite. While both have the benefit of lineage and the promise of talent, the constant coverage of their lives, before they have proven themselves, is disorienting.
Saif has commented a few times that he is nervous about his daughter’s film debut and has begun to accept the attention around Taimur as inescapable. Which is a bit surprising as Saif has steadfastly tried to hold on to his privacy in the past. He is not a social butterfly by Bollywood standards. With camera lens popping out everywhere, all the time, the royal star has had to change his stance and accept that making news is just part of his family’s life now.
And then there is the other branch of the Kapoors — Ranbir Kapoor and parents Neetu and Rishi. Ranbir has been on the receiving end of paparazzi attention for quite some time, especially during the phase when he was dating and sharing a roof with Katrina Kaif. Ranbir has snatched cameras, stopped his vehicle and tried to negotiate truce, requested and snapped at phtoographers — to no avail. Determined to not be on social media and document his life all the time, Ranbir’s search for privacy seems to have made the media and intrusive fans all the more determined to snap every little detail of his life. Whether its his designer bachelor pad or his expensive hoodies, scrutiny has defined Ranbir Kapoor’s journey in cinema so far. Currently on a prep trip to Israel with co star Alia Bhatt for his forthcoming film, Brahmastra, speculations of them being more than friends has begun to emerge. Chances are, like always, Ranbir will not clarify. And the online obsession with this rumor will mushroom further.
Ranbir’s sudden rise to stardom has impacted Rishi and Neetu Kapoor’s lives too. Young paparazzi photographers have the most amusing tales to tell of angry, old man Rishi. When they have pulled all nighters stalking the Kapoor home, Krishna Raj Bungalow at Pali Hill, Rishi would step out, swirling a scotch and chatting up with them. He has thrown fits when fans have asked for photographs at private dinners. Inevitably, they make news with every move they make. That both father and son are prone to losing their temper at paparazzi or media, or fans, has not deterred anyone.
Every little detail of the Kapoors and their lives has countless people fascinated across the world today. In an unhealthy trend, their work is not ever the center of focus. Saif, Kareena and Ranbir are not ruling the roost today. What they do to make a living is just by the by, as all attention is rooted on how they live.
While it is not a TV show yet, and might never be, it is not an exaggeration to state that this endless voyeurism around the Kapoors makes them potential Kardashians here in India. If public attention is good for business, then this colorful brunch of entertaining folk will make for great opportunity.
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