Bendre’s tweet about her illness is yet another example of an honest revelation by a celebrity before unending media speculation.
The heartrending statement from Hindi film actor Sonali Bendre Wednesday revealing that she was suffering from high grade cancer that had metastasized was not just a bolt out of the blue that proves how vulnerable humans are in the face of illness, but also yet another example of an honest revelation by a celebrity before her health became the subject of intense and unending speculation in the media, especially social networking sites.
As she travels to the United States for treatment, Bendre joins a growing tribe of celebrities who are shunning layers of secrecy and carefully crafted public personas and speaking out about their illnesses. Earlier this year, actor Irrfan Khan, weeks before his film Blackmail was to release, tweeted about his illness.
Khan went off the radar for a while post that tweet but gave a beautiful and rather philosophical interview last month where he spoke about suffering from neuroendocrine cancer and fighting to survive. The tone of the interview revealed Khan’s willingness to fight the odds. More importantly it left very little for speculation. An actor spoke to his fans and supporters honestly — that he doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring but he will not stop hoping.
In an industry where physical appearance translates to fame and money with a premium on being fit and healthy, both Khan and Bendre have redefined the terms of engagement.
Behind closed doors, the fear of being seen as ‘less strong’ or ‘ill’ worries actors since that is likely to translate into wariness to invest on part of producers. With crores riding on a project, a producer’s biggest fear is a project being stalled and so they perpetually, and justifiably so, try to ensure that nothing goes wrong.
Another factor that scares many in tinseltown is the viciousness that is unleashed on social media and the unchallenged theories that are purported as the truth through WhatsApp forwards. For instance, the rabid rumour mongering and conspiracy theories over actor Sridevi’s death made many realise the ugly side of being under the spotlight of social media archlights. Rather than be the subject of Chinese whispers, celebrities are choosing to use the same platforms to connect directly with their fans and well-wishers with minimal chances of being misquoted or taken out of context.
Before Khan and Bendre, actor Deepika Padukone too shocked many when she spoke of her battle with depression in 2015. Her admission of vulnerability was met with a mixed response with some cynics calling it a gimmick. She wrote recently after the tragic suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrated chef Anthony Bourdain through her organisation, the Live Laugh Love Foundation, continuing to champion the cause of mental health awareness.
In January this year, I happened to be at an event where Amitabh Bachchan was handing some free hearing aid kits. He spoke very openly of his many illnesses from tuberculosis to Hepatitis B and how he got the disease through a contaminated blood transfusion. He smiled but the mood got sombre when he mentioned that only 25% of his liver is functional. There was a hushed silence in the crowd, hearing the legend speak of his weak health, but I could see that many were able to see him just like one of them.
Do revelations like these make our stars far more relatable? Does it make them more vulnerable or even more loved? Or does it take the sheen off them? Honestly, to suffer from a serious illness and to voice what you feel at your lowest ebb takes strength and unbelievable muster. The fans see that and so does the larger public.
Courtesy: The Print India