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Fifteen seconds of fame
- The lure of celebritydom
Frenzied fans greet Abhijeet Sawant, the Indian Idol. A Telegraph file picture
As the country gets ready to welcome yet another superstar once the results of Indian Idol 2 gets announced within a few days, the one trend that will surely witness an unprecedented rise with every such victory is the rise in the number of teenagers, who want to achieve instant success and grab their 15 seconds of fame on television.
Neha Singh (name changed) a student from a reputed city school travels to and from Ranchi frequently to participate in a weekly television show. The reason is simple, her parents cannot afford to look after a family and Neha at an young age is chipping in to save the family in times of crisis. Moreover, the 15 seconds of fame on the small screen is too hard a temptation to resist.
Genuine cases like Neha can be one in a million, but the fallout of reality television has surely been on the teenagers today.
Urge to get instant fame, money and a classy lifestyle in a metro, such dreams have given many teenagers a reason to run after television and silver screen, often at a price.
With every success story like that of, Abhijit Sawant, Debojit Saha and Amit Sana, there are many other unknown faces that never get to see the arclights. When many enter the tinsel town they are unaware that these professions require as many hard hours of work and toil as any other. Therefore, the chances of a burnout is quicker and more prominent.
According to a study conducted in the United Kingdom, the lure of celebritydom is so great among teenagers that almost one in 10 would readily abandon their education if they had the chance to appear on television. Although the odds of hitting the jackpot through reality television are 30 million to one — greater than those for winning the lottery — a considerable chunk of teenagers believe they are ready to take the leap of faith.
With the recent generation fed with reality shows, big money, the poll of nearly 800 youngsters in the 16 to 19 age group, commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), found that money and success were their main motivating factors. Experts feel: "For many young people, trying to be famous through reality television can be tempting, particularly if they are unsure of the direction they want their lives to take." And the stories of Richard Branson, J.K. Rowling and David Beckham whose almost over-night fame is alluring enough.
Question remains how "glamourous" are these shows in real-life. City girl Jigisha Chanda who had participated in two rounds of a successful music shows on a popular Bengali music channel has a different story to tell.
"The pressure to perform and to prove oneself is tremendous mostly resulting in depression, its almost like a rat race. Nervous breakdowns are a very common thing, but at last it all depends on how a participant takes it into his stride," says Jigisha.
P. Ghoshal, a city musician who had participated in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa about two years ago seconds her opinion. "The reality that lies behind the camera, is totally different from what is being shown on television and the hardwork that goes behind it is tremendous. There is no glamour behind these so-called glamourous shows," says Ghoshal.
But that is hardly deterring millions of teenagers across the globe, who rather hit the bullseye with one shot.
"I think education is important but for me I do not think a 9-to-5 job would be good enough. I would not like to go to the same job every day. I do not think you can become really rich with a normal job. I think you can just be comfortable. When you are really rich you can do whatever you want. Being comfortable is not the same thing," rues a school student from Jamshedpur.
Though leading city doctors refute such cases as one in a million and not such an alarming trend in the city, but Aatrayee Chandra, psychologist at Telco Hospital recalls a particular case that she had to deal with recently.
She recalls the case of a teenaged girl, who wanted to be a model, but was not ready to put in any hardwork in the form of exercises or going in for a healthy diet. Instead, she blamed her mother for all her failures.
"The girl's mother had some skin problem, which she inherited. She kept on blaming her mother for her inability to perform," says Aatrayee.
When brought to the hospital, the girl was told about the major pitfalls of choosing a career in modelling, but what startled most was the desperation the she showed in achieving her dreams.
"She was completely aware of the kind of exploitation one has to go through. But she was ready for everything," says Aatrayee. This type of obsession leads to a state of extreme depression if there is failure of some sort. Doctors feel that the only way to break this stupor is to show these youngsters the real picture behind the camera.
And then there is counselling. Experts feel that counselling can help in a great extent to solve these problems and make students come out of a make-belief world. "In most cases, the craze leads to extreme depression and the only treatment left thereafter is treating depression, which in itself is a long drawn process," added Aatrayee.