|Kareena Kapoor with co-star Imran Khan in Gori Tere Pyaar Mein: |
you voted for her fans as being the most active on Internet
If I don’t post this blog right away, I’m afraid @Kareena_No1 on Twitter will have me hung, drawn and quartered. My apologies. I’ve been busy, so I’m just sitting down to discuss this poll question I had asked you earlier this month:
WHICH BOLLYWOOD STAR HAS THE MOST ACTIVE FANS ON THE NET?
Here’s how you voted:
34% of you believe Kareena Kapoor Khan has the most active fans on the Internet.
25% believe it’s Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
15% picked Shahid Kapoor fans.
7% of you voted for Rani Mukerji’s fans.
4% each believe that Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone’s fans are most active on the Net.
3% – Salman Khan’s fans.
2% – Priyanka Chopra’s fans.
1% – Amitabh Bachchan’s fans.
Those who didn’t get any votes at all: fans of Ranbir Kapoor, Preity Zinta, Aamir Khan, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Akshay Kumar, John Abraham, Hrithik Roshan, Sonam Kapoor, Katrina Kaif.
If you were to go by the raging battles on the social media, it would seem that Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan are the Bollywood stars who have the most active fans on the Internet. Yet, it’s Amitabh Bachchan who has the largest and/or fastest-growing number of followers on most platforms (7.2 million followers on Twitter, 6.9 million likes on FB as I write this post) – and if you follow such things closely you will see his fans too are quick to zero in on anyone seeming remotely critical of him.
From personal experience I can tell you that the most overwhelmingly positive response I’ve ever got to a query on Twitter has been from Rani Mukerji fans. When I was hosting an interview show for Headlines Today till three years back, I used to have a Twitter section in which I’d ask my guest questions sent to me by people following me on Twitter. No stars’ fans have ever flooded me with as many questions and messages as Rani’s fans would when I’d alert them about an interview. They sent me so many tweets for one particular show, that when I printed them out it came to 35 pages! This was about 5 years back, Rani was already floundering in the industry at the time and it was clear that her decision to stick primarily to Yashraj Films’ projects combined with the industry’s tendency to tire easily of heroines had damaged her career, possibly irreparably. From her fans’ messages though, it was evident that there was a hunger among them to see her in more films and in substantial roles. The experience of that interview with Rani set my mind ticking so I checked the Twitter account of her contemporary Preity Zinta whose acting career was clearly pretty much over by then. The numbers were startling: she has 2.6 million followers as of now with not a single film in hand and none in sight, and even today they remain a very active community. Again, from the messages being sent to her, it was clear that there was a hardcore fan following yearning to see her in more films and solid roles.
On a not-so-positive note, when I first joined Twitter, I found the fans who tried to intimidate me the most were Salman Khan fans – back then they’d pick on every single tweet I posted on Bollywood heroes and allege an anti-Salman bias for the most laughable reasons, I assume to put me on the defensive. Was I doing something wrong, I wondered? This is obviously exactly the question they wanted me to ask myself. I was reviewing films for Headlines Today at the time and for weeks before a Salman film’s release, they’d start sending tweets of this sort: We know you media are all pro-SRK and anti-Salman so it goes without saying you will give Bhai’s film a bad review. After a while I began to realise that this was a psychological game to influence critics who might consequently, at a sub-conscious level, hesitate to give a negative review even if they were genuinely unfavourably inclined towards a particular Salman film. Was I being singled out for such attention? Was I flattering myself that people thought I mattered enough to be targeted with such mind games? Fearing that my ego was getting the better of me, I visited the Twitter accounts of critics from rival channels and newspapers and found that they were all being similarly targeted, some mildly as I was, and some rather viciously.
Then when Guzaarish was released and I happened to tweet my thoughts about the film I had my most unpleasant experience ever on Twitter. Fans of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan bombarded me with tweets threatening all forms of violence including rape and murder on me and my family, while directing the most vile abuse at me, my family and my organisation. I immediately visited the Twitter accounts of critics from two rival channels and whaddyaknow: the very Twitter handles that were attacking me that day were writing to both of them with the exact same threats and abuse. That’s when I devised my personal social media policy (for want of a better word) that I intend to practice for all time to come: NEVER REPLY TO ABUSE AND THREATS. It helped. In time I found that abusers melted away. I’d like to assume with Gandhian conviction that this happened because there is limited satisfaction to be derived from cursing and threatening a person who refuses to respond. Now I find the people on my followers list are primarily interesting film buffs with whom one can engage in a sensible conversation; the insecure, verbally violent sort rarely bother me now.
Question is: from personal experience, do I conclude that the Bollywood stars with the most active fans on the Internet are Salman, Rani, Aishwarya and Hrithik? Not necessarily. First, I believe it is unfair to gauge the fan activity of male and female stars with the same barometer. It is an achievement for the female stars and a measure of their extreme charisma (which the industry does not fully tap) that they have such massive fan followings considering that they almost never get the kind of larger-than-life roles that the men get. Second, the heavy activity among female stars’ fans shows a keenness to see them in the sort of projects that made them stars in the first place. Goes without saying, there are not enough such projects going around. After a while, the enthusiasm of the fan followings is bound to dwindle. Third, a star may have active fans on the Net even without being personally present on any web platform. Aishwarya, Kareena, Katrina, Rani and Ranbir are proof of that. Fourth, numbers don’t necessarily indicate activity, which is why when I uploaded this poll, I urged readers to read the question carefully. To my mind – and this is purely from observation – though Bachchan fans are extremely active on the Net, fans of SRK and Salman are even more so, possibly because Bachchan’s numerous projects are still the sort that one would see in a star’s second innings whereas SRK and Salman are right now at their peak. What about fans of the third Khan? Well, though Aamir is a massive star, he himself is relatively indifferent to the Net therefore the other two end up scoring over him in this respect. On the other hand, because of the kind of projects SRK and Salman choose, the kind of fan Shah Rukh attracts is more likely to be already active on the Net and able to articulate their views in comparison with the average Salman fan (not all, but most, please note). My guesstimate – which, incidentally, mirrors the analysis of the film industry too – is that Shah Rukh and Aamir fans have similar profiles while Salman and Akshay fans have similar profiles in terms of education, background and so on.
My vote therefore:
Among the female stars, I’d say the ones with the most active fans on the Net (in this order) are: (1) Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (2) Priyanka Chopra (3) Rani Mukerji (4) Kareena Kapoor Khan (5) Deepika Padukone
Among the male stars, I’d estimate this order of fan activity: (1) Shah Rukh Khan (2) Salman Khan (3) Amitabh Bachchan (4) Akshay Kumar (5) Shahid Kapoor
Signing off now. Do vote in the next poll which will soon be up.
Photograph courtesy: Everymedia PR