By Chandrima Pal
The rules of love have changed; competitive social media PDA is the order of the day. Celebrity couples are leading the charge with the most perfect kiss and the warmest hug. But who are the King and Queen of Insta-love? Nickyanka, DeepVeer, or Virushka?
With due apologies to Arthur R. “Pop” Momand, Keeping Up With the Joneses has acquired a whole new meaning, courtesy the latest poster-couple of PDA, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas. On a recent episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, newly-wed and a curiously bouncy Priyanka was caught on the rare back foot. Quizzed about the too-perfect-to-be-real photograph of her falling asleep in her husband’s arms while watching the Super Bowl, she rattled off a long and somewhat nervous explanation about hanging out in a group, doing something cute with your partner and having a thoughtful friend at hand, to click and share those intimate pictures online.
No matter how diligent they are about putting their life on record and setting new milestones in PDA from exotic and undisclosed locations, Nickyanka, or #Prick, Mrs Jonas’s preferred hashtag, are not the ones revolutionalising Instagram PDA. They still have a thing or two to learn from our fully desi “It Couple”, Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma. In the months leading up to their grand wedding and thereafter, #Virushka has set the bar for celebrating karwa chauth, walking hand in hand and cuddling at undisclosed locations, clicking airplane selfies, unwinding, celebrating his wins and her rare box office hits. Their Insta-licious romance is giving breathless lovers from Melbourne to Mumbai, the goals – vacay goals, couple goals, twinning goals, advertising goals, success goals, social media goals, the list goes on.
Clearly, love’s labour is lost unless you add a big fat dash of PDA to it. In the empty reels between film releases, fantastic matches, cover and film shoots, being in love and having an Instagram handle to show it, comes in super handy. Case in point: Bipasha Basu’s famous monkeylove hashtags and routine endorsements of Karan Singh Grover as perfect husband material, posted from sweaty gyms rooms and plunge pools around the world. Basu’s got competition from another fabulous-at-40 woman, Sushmita Sen, who has been celebrating Valentine’s Day from late last year. The object of her affection, the young Rohman Shawl, is a tough act to follow. Even through the Instagram filters, what you see in his eyes is utter, unquestionable devotion, as he follows his goddess around from one loving moment to another.
The rules of love have changed; competitive social media PDA is the order of the day. What’s the point of bringing her the white lilies if she’s not going to be ’gramming it? And are you a true lover if you are not the first to heart or comment on his topless picture? Ask DeepVeer. They might not have posted any thirsty images since their countless wedding receptions, but there is no dearth of mushy messages. Deepika is almost always the first to respond to Ranveer’s Insta posts, often staking her claim over him with an assertive “mine”. And “husband of the millenium” Ranveer is not one to disappoint either.
The rules of love have changed; competitive social media PDA is the order of the day.
But these canoodling couples are not making love any easy for us normies. No matter how much we drool over Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor, we know that Kapoor is just not that into PDA. Individually, they might be fabulous. Together, they might have the chemistry of Romeo and Juliet. But does it really count, if on social media they are as dishy as congealed, day-old Maggi in school lunch boxes? Cuddling up to your hot partner in a billion-dollar LA home and posting it on Instagram and cuddling up with him inside your cosy home with no one watching, hardly has the same effect, no?
PDA, especially the kind that makes our collective hearts go awwww and pine for the one, is a lot like love. It takes a lot of hard work and some careful planning. And requires a superbrain to edit every moment in your head, before you can type out a teasing/befitting comment and share it so that the internet can swoon over.
In a more innocent world, the job could be entrusted to the paps who would lurk behind trash cans, climb up trees and scale walls, to capture the perfect moment in a clandestine affair. Stalwarts in the PDA Hall of Fame back then were Kareena Kapoor and her boyfriend of the time, Shahid Kapoor, who were locked in a headlining kiss at a Juhu nightclub many moons ago. That moment was immortalised by a cheeky party- goer and his brand new camera phone.
Today, Instagram has changed the game. Priyanka Chopra credits her perfect pout, hair and cuddle pictures to her cousin. If she were to be believed, celebrity couples, like royalty, never do things alone. They always have a friend, a cousin, or a hair stylist handy, who has an eye for the cutest, happiest, and most intimate moment. The Ayan Mukerji to Ranbir Kapoor’s life. The Karan Johar to every Bollywood insider party.
Cynics like you and I might equate oversharing with overcompensation, but science is rooting for the lovers.
Cynics like you and I might equate oversharing with overcompensation, but science is rooting for the lovers. An article titled “The Psychology of Oversharing Facebook Couples” points to a research that says people who posted couple-y items more frequently also tended to be more satisfied with their partners than those who did not. “I think a lot of people think, ‘Oh, it’s all phony,’” lead study author Gwendolyn Seidman tells The Atlantic. “I think they’d be surprised to hear that it is associated with being genuinely happy in their relationships.”
That said, there is a thin line between the private and the PDA. It must be fun playing with it all the time. But next time someone comes on a certain coffee show and says with a straight face, “I am a very shy, private person,” you can squirt some Insta-sauce right onto their face.
Chandrima Pal is a journalist and columnist. Author of A Song for I (Amaryllis) and At Home in Mumbai (Harper Collins).
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