By Dushyant Shekhawat
The Sara Tendulkar stalking case shows us the worst part about fandom: How it snaps up anyone associated with fame in a vortex of dangerous behavior.
Fame makes people behave strangely, and I’m not talking about Salman Khan. This is something Sara Tendulkar learned the hard way when Mumbai Police had to arrest a 32-year-old man from West Bengal for making lewd and aggressive phone calls to her house and demanding her hand in marriage.
The trope of the die-hard fan who takes their celebrity obsession too far is well cataloged. It crops up everywhere: From real life, like the man who tried to immolate himself because Virat Kohli got a poor score against South Africa, to our media, like the Shah Rukh Khan film Fan which released last year.
The case of Sara Tendulkar shows us the worst part about this all-encompassing approach to fandom: How it snaps up anyone associated with fame in a vortex of dangerous behaviour. Sara is the 20-year-old daughter of Indian cricket’s greatest icon Sachin Tendulkar. Ideally, she shouldn’t have a stalker and that too from across the country. That this possibly harmful man could procure her house number to harass her, points to an alarming trend in how fans believe they are entitled to know everything about a star — including their children.
This media fixation with star kids is a well-established trend in entertainment reporting. Remember the overtly creepy coverage of Shah Rukh Khan’s 17-year-old daughter Suhana, where outlets captioned her photos in a bikini as “sexy”? Or the cutesy-but-bordering-on-deviant thirst for photos of baby Taimur Ali Khan? Whatever the case, the only reason these minors are being thrust into the public spotlight is that their parents are well-known personalities. It would seem the only famous kids who are spared the media scrutiny are the ones whose last name is Ambani.
In each situation, the kids seem to possess more maturity than the adults hounding them.
Of course, this is trickle-down from the paparazzi culture that plagues entertainment industries in the West. Tom Cruise’s daughter Suri has been a victim, as has Kim Kardashian’s baby girl North. This constant exposure results in cases like Sara Tendulkar’s, and sometimes it gets dangerous.
In each situation, the kids seem to possess more maturity than the adults hounding them. Thankfully for Sara Tendulkar, the police managed to intervene in time and prevent her stalker situation from deteriorating. But for star kids to actually be protected from the media’s toxic attention, it would take a collective decision on our part to stop treating them like tiny extensions of their famous parents. Because 15 seconds of fame were never meant for 15-year-olds.
Featured Illustration Credit(s): Shruti Yatam