In a country where CWS or the Celebrity Worship Syndrome is an actual thing, it’s no surprise when lakhs of people rush to catch a mere glimpse of them — especially when it’s the King Khan himself waving from a local train, complete with his name stuck on the list outside, all to promote Raees. Great publicity? Absolutely. But things took an ugly turn when several of them were injured, others complained of suffocation and one lost his life as the train carrying Shah Rukh Khan made a pit stop at Vadodara.
“What happened is highly unfortunate but, as a filmmaker, I can’t say don’t promote your film either, because marketing is everything these days,” says Indrajit Lankesh. The director who recollects having to get into a car with five bodyguards at a reality show promo recently due to the unexpected turnout of people says that, sometimes, the turnout can’t be foreseen.
“While promoting at public places like malls, stations and the middle of the road, one must also remember not to inconvenience the public. Most of them don’t even care about the film and are just going about their jobs. It’s important to value their time,” opines the director of Luv U Alia. Having been a part of several film promos herself, Sandalwood actress Sruthi Hariharan says that it’s normal for people to come catch a glimpse of their favourite stars. “It gets a little uncomfortable when fans try to push us around and take selfies. I think, what we lack is discipline — whether we are in temples, a lift in the mall or railway stations,” she says, frankly.
But is it right to blame the celebs for unfortunate instances that might occur, then? “They have nothing to do with managing the event. They are the face of it,” says city-based artiste manager, Nouman Khan who has worked closely with stars like Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan. The entrepreneur who believes that promotions should not be done at the cost of someone’s life says, “Barricading and security is not just for celebs, but should be enforced for fans too.”
Considering that fans make the celebs who they are, “They are always at the back of a celebrity’s head — they are concerned about what they are thinking, for instance,” says Nouman. So, it was no surprise when the very receptive Shah Rukh took note of what happened and offered up condolences, “We started the journey thinking we all will travel, spend time with each other. When one of your own loses someone on a trip like this, it saddens us all. Hopefully God will bless her soon. On behalf of everyone, our prayers and blessings with the whole family.”