While nobody is safe from the merciless trolls, being in the public eye exponentially increases chances of being trolled. Actors are considered fair game on social media — for the way they look, the roles they pick, their views on social issues, and even their silence on these issues.
Salman Khan was recently fat-shamed because he had a bulge around the belly. People who watched a video of the actor’s performance at the Dabangg tour in Saudi Arabia even said the actor had ‘deceived’ his fans, claiming that the chiselled body that they saw in his last release may have been a computer-generated effect.
Akshay Kumar was trolled for looking too old in Sooryavanshi and Kareena was castigated for trying to hide her age behind a pout, on the basis of pictures from a private party with her BFFs.
However, trade analysts, directors and writers say trolls have very little impact on the actors and on their market value.
Any publicity is good for the stars
Netizens have been largely critical of the fact that the same big names are cast over and over again in big budget films despite the actors looking too old for the parts they play — many still play the roles they did 10 years ago.
Admitting that actors try to play young roles for as long as they can, Mani Shankar, director of Knock Out starring Irrfan Khan, Sanjay Dutt and Kangana Ranaut, says, “Artistes wait till they are really old to start doing senior roles. In cinema years, everyone is 30 until they’re 55!”
The director, however, is of the opinion that any publicity is a boon for actors. “Actors have been getting trolled for a long time. One of the most trolled people in recent times is Kangana, but there’s no change in her commercial value because of it. In the film industry, any publicity is good publicity. It keeps an artiste very hot and current.”
Taran Adarsh, trade analyst, agrees. He cites Akshay Kumar’s role in Sooryavanshi as an example. “Despite trolls saying that Akshay is too old for action roles, a director as big as Rohit Shetty cast him because he knew Akshay’s market value, and this was justified by the movie’s huge box office collection,” he says.
The C-G effect
Bollywood actors are admired for their flawless skin and ripped bodies. Fans feel deceived when they find out during promotional events that the heroes they look up to for fitness motivation achieve their on-screen looks with the help of computer-generated effects. Experts stress that audiences must remember that cinema is a make-believe world. Enhancing actors’ looks using technology is a common practice in the film industry.
Mani Shankar explains, “Subtle airbrushing is always done. Bags under the eyes are concealed and pimples are removed. In fact, there’s hardly a movie in which the female actor isn’t given a touch up during the editing of the film. Male artistes who have fine lines on their face are also given a touch up. During the post-production, protruding bellies are hidden, and abs are given definition.”
Actors work very hard
Emphasising the effort that goes into becoming an A-lister, writer of the Akshay Kumar and Sara Ali Khan starrer Atrangi Re, Himanshu Sharma says, “It takes 20 years for an actor to become popular and penetrate deeply into the rural parts of the country. Actors who get trolled for looking old have invested a lot of time and work to acquire the glamour that they enjoy today.”
Elaborating on this idea, Mani Shankar says, “All the A-listers like Salman and Akshay are veteran artists and have a good box office pre-sale value — their movies are sold before they’re seen because of the fan following they have.” Taran Adarsh believes that veteran actors are also in demand because of their expertise and skills. He says, “There continues to be a demand for these actors because they are very dedicated to their craft and are good at what they do. Age catches up with everyone. You can criticise actors for their performance but definitely not for their weight or looks,”