November 27, 2022

The Professional Times

Excellence in Every Word

Why celebrities earn so much money — and what it says about our society?

Many silver screen celebrities around the globe are officially billionaires, thanks to business magazines like Forbes, we are all privy to the monetary minutiae of the rich and famous. Many Indian actors are earning more from endorsements than films.

There are many examples that prove there is nothing wrong with wealth if gained by sheer hard work and honest branding. Every brand ambassador should personally assure the quality of the product they are branding. Do they really do that? Being the role models of society, they are expected to maintain the highest moral standards as fixed by society.

During Corona Crisis, social media build a dismal narrative when many were suffering. Many silver screen celebrities of our country, except for very few, were perpetuating unattainable lifestyles, sharing on social media the snaps of designer clothes, expensive cars or trips to luxury holiday locations. So it’s only natural that aspirations around money and fame infiltrate deep our psyche.

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When we glorify the image, what does our society feels about them?
It goes without saying that some well-paid careers — like acting and modelling — come with a voluntary or involuntary trade-off, especially for women. There are whisperings of casting-couch in social media.

Film Direction, Madhur Bhandarkar became infamous in 2012 when he faced criminal charges for the alleged rape of actress Preeti Jain. He got acquittal at the end. Salmaan Khan was also in news for rash driving and blackbuck hunting. Eventually, nothing could be proved in court-of-law.

The mystery behind the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput is yet to be unfolded, but it raises many unanswered questions about the dirty politics and leg-pulling behind the curtains. SSR is not the only one who committed suicide in the film industry… there are many other cases of suicide and suspicious deaths.

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There are countless stories of extramarital affairs, unsuccessful marital relationships, drug addiction, and many other controversies floating across social media fading thereby the glittering of stars. The life of Bharat Bhushan also bears testament to the fact that fame and popularity are transient as a star of his stature was later forced to do minor roles in films to make ends meet.

And what do the persons like us, who are working full-time for five-figure salaries, think about the awesome wealth of our film stars? Are we less deserving, incompetent, or simply not worth as much? And is there a way to track our value to society that isn’t monetary or in other words – intangible?

It’s complicated when we tackle the comparison of affluence and inequality. Ask a Bollywood hero and he just might hide a grudge that why Hollywood stars are paid so handsomely? A supporting actor, on the other hand, would complain that he is earning far less than a hero does. There are many so-called “camps” and the rivalry across them surfaces like scum in a tranquil lake.

Since time immemorial, the debate of disparity is unending. Not that the celebrities don’t deserve their multi-million cheques — most are incredibly talented and diligent.

In our prevailing economic system, mass redistribution of wealth from rich to working-class is highly unlikely. Even if it is done, “the same will eventually return to those from whom it came,” says economists… quite strange but true. It’s high time film stars should become more conscious of their role in the society of perpetual inequality and be the real stars in the eyes of their admirers.

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