The higher the celebrity status, the steeper the price he or she has to pay. And no one realises this better right now than Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, who is being hounded for
allegedly hunting a blackbuck.
One doesn't know how far the charge sticks. Of course, the law must take its course. But there are so many larger issues involving much bigger and more critical crimes that go scot-free. At this given moment, there are scores and scores of legislators and MPs who have serious criminal charges against them.
Pataudi, an erstwhile Nawab, belongs to a different world. Hunting, considered a crime today, was a way of life for the royalty at a time gone by. He is therefore guilty of not being politically correct.
Unfortunately, celebrities are often made an example of by moralists and other breast beaters of society. Some of us don't mind begging the president for clemency when a child rapist is sent to the death row. But to allow Pataudi to get away with hunting an animal? Nah!
It's funny but our tolerance level vis-à-vis celebrities seems to be getting truly low.
The other day Amitabh Bachchan wanted to relocate a tree in his premises that was blocking his driveway. The municipal corporation denied his request. I suggest that these custodians of ecology take a trip to the interiors of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh where trees are chopped down by landlords and others.
It's easy for us to bay for a celebrity's blood. For one, it gets instant notice. Also, we tend to react with moralistic arrogance when it comes to the movers and shakers of society.
We recently had a section of the press accusing Aishwarya Rai of misbehaving in a gurdwara in London and thereby disrespecting the Sikh religion. No such thing happened.
Now they say she was looking "fat" while dancing with the two Bachchans at the India International Film Academy (IIFA) ceremony. For the record, she had to put on weight for her role of a Sikh woman in "Provoked". Can't Aishwarya move a limb without attracting disapproving stares?
"Why should they be allowed to get away with it?" is how many see it. But what about the fact that common people too get away with a lot?
"It's true," says Dino Morea. "Celebrities are made more accountable about their wrongdoings than civilians. Look at Salman Khan. He has been put through a lot more than what he actually did."
The rich and the privileged are often subjected to a more cruel and blinding light of scrutiny than those who are relatively unknown.