Mumbai: And nowhere in the world does that adage hold truer than in our country, where two individuals uniting in matrimony calls for a big fat Indian wedding. Over the past few years, it has become a national pastime, as celebrities, both big and small publicise the progress of their relationships like it was everybody’s business. The buzz surrounding the wedding of a popular Bollywood pair which took place last week, was one of those occasions that had hijacked the screen time of news media for the better part of three days.
Hashtags like #Ralia had been trending on Twitter and a cottage industry spawned in the aftermath of one of the most talked about weddings in recent times. TV viewers sitting at home were given a minute-by-minute update on the arrival of the guests, their attires, and teasers into what audiences could expect if they stayed tuned in for the remainder of the day.
For naysayers who wag their fingers, pointing out that round-the-clock coverage of a celebrity wedding does not amount to news, this might be news to you. There are millions to be earned via advertising when TRPs go through the roof, and sponsors line up by the dozens to choose coveted slots on prime time. The parallel industries that flourish in the aftermath of any such wedding includes fashion labels, destination wedding planners, tourism operators as well as stakeholders in real estate and architecture who wait with bated breath for the announcements of the possible new homes where such affluent couples plonk themselves.
And this isn’t a purely Indian phenomenon. Globally, the fixation with celebrity weddings has taken up a major part of our attention. Even back in the 80s, the collective colonial hangover of the commonwealth nations ensured that footage from Royal weddings such as that of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and more recently, Kate Middleton and Prince William, as well as Meghan Markle and Prince Harry had transformed into the stuff tabloid legends are made of.
Today, photographs and footage from celebrity weddings are part of a big ticket media opportunity that guarantees the licensees unfettered exclusive access to ‘behind the scenes’ videos at such proceedings, in the short term. In the long term, telecast deals can be struck with OTT providers who are looking for new and unprecedented formats of programming to keep the moolah coming, in an age where viewers are also experiencing media fatigue.
There is a certain inherent escapism involved in this fixation of ours with celebrities and their lives. Realistically, it is impossible for 90% of the nation’s population to be able to afford the bells and whistles and performances that are part and parcel of such weddings. At best, they are a borderline welcome distraction from the humdrum daily grind. At worst, they are an excuse to look beyond the tragedies and travesties playing out in the country and thousands of miles away. It might be pointless to pick faults with the media’s incessant coverage of national and world events and the common citizen’s need for some respite from the seriousness of it all. Maybe every once in a while, it might bring in some levity — looking at the world through coloured glasses.