I will admit that our social calendar is often full.
Some are the normal live music shows, festivals, friends and family celebrations but peppered amongst these are ‘EVENTS’ (yes in caps) where they roll out the red carpet. Film and theatre premiers, _____ (insert brand, book, whatever) launches, etc. Where the point is to see and be seen – to have the shutter bugs snap and flash as guests enter.
For the first 40+ years of my life, such ‘EVENTS’ (yes those caps again!) were rarities rather than regular affairs. However the hazard of having a partner in ‘The Biz’ means these are a normal part of life in Bombay.
There are times at such ‘EVENTS’, I’m reminded of a short section in Fahad Samar’s book FlashPoint…
His description of the six specimens typically found at society events is sharp and hilarious. Even better, to help promote the book, the publisher created cartoons depicting these creatures… which I’ve reproduced below (due nod to the originals!)
You have to giggle at the RSVP antics! (aka Reality Show Veterans and Professionals)
This gaggle of unabashed C-listers earned their livelihood by acting outrageously in front of the media to garner publicity. They would slap each other t parties, threaten to strip nude in public if India won a cricket match and shamelessly debase themselves so that they could receive offers to appear on reality shows. As the nation sniggered at their theatrics, these performing monkeys went laughing all the way to the bank, earning a fat fee for their exhibitionism.
F3s (Fully Faltoo Filmi) desperate for a return to Page 3!
Several Bollywood actors and actresses found themselves at a loose end after discovering they had lost their on-screen lustre. Craving attention, they became permanent fixtures on the party circuit and would land up at every event they were invited to, even – as a young director cattily observed – to the opening of an envelope.
Terribly cynical but sometimes true SPCAs (Socialites Promoting Causes Always)
Some members of the literati had become notorious for championing every cause and charity imaginable. Inspired by the media attention that social activities were grabbing, these bleeding hears became ‘socialite activists’. But instead of staging downmarket dharnas and wasting wax at candlelight vigils, the celebs preferred to remain in climate-controlled surroundings and paid their publicists to plant stories in the media, expressing solidarity with issues that ranged in importance from Anna Hazare to Anna Kournikova.
B3A (Bady Baap ki Bigdi Aulaad) ever-privileged brats
The metropolises of India were peppered with the impudent progeny of wealth parents. Mumbai was not without its share of spoilt brats who shovelled coke with a silver spoon and behaved obnoxiously, convinced that the sun shone out of their little brown bottoms.
And the ubiquitous Professional Gate Crashers (PGC)…
Not just wannabes who often tried sneaking into parties, a few well-heeled Mumbaikars also felt it their birthright to attend high-profile events without bothering with the niceties of an invite. Convinced that they were welcome everywhere, they habitually sauntered in and air-kissed the organizers who immediately let it be known to the media that these pesky guests were never on their list.
CSI Mumbai (CSI = Cheating Spouses Inc)
Husbands and wives who cheated on one another were a source of great entertainment to the holi polloi who had a hard time keeping track of which promiscuous socialite was sleeping with whom. Adulterous spouses would sometimes arrive at the same event as a cuckolded partner or an ex, leading to red faces, hasty exits and occasionally, a public showdown. A brazen, two-timing menage a trios succeeded in making many an evening in Mumbai an affair to remember.
Surely such specimens are not unique to Bombay… there must be variations found in other parts of the globe. However there also seem to be some distinctive elements to the desi variant.
Amongst the glitz, glam, air kissing and exclamations of ‘we must catch up soon daaaahling!’, there are some utter gems. Real folks with interesting lives who one genuinely cares about. They make these events amusing, fun and worth attending.
And there are many who wear the mantle of ‘celebrity’ with grace, charm and a conscience. Who take up causes close to them with a passion and commitment barely seen in the limelight. Who are completely down-to-earth and unspoilt even if born into film stardom.
I could go on… which means… I guess I’m not really so cynical after all.