Forget the reel ones. Let’s celebrate the real superstars!

IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman arrives in IndiaWe believe whatever we see, as truth. We also believe something we don’t even see as the ultimate truth of life. But that is not the topic I intend to write on!

Movies and television highly influences children and the impact of the influence sustains with them even during their adulthood. If a kid was asked who is his superhero or role-model, they would definitely answer that it would be Superman, Spiderman or an actor.

From my personal experience, I figured out that it takes a lot of observation and learning to free ourselves from the influence of television and movies that have imposed on our mind since childhood.

There is a number of great people who have influenced as well as reformed our society. Unfortunately, those great lives that have brought real changes in our society remain in the confines of the pages of our history books while fictional characters who never exist and celebrities who entertain us receive accolades and recognition.

A few weeks ago when our state film awards were announced, the award for the best actor went to a popular actor who has portrayed the life of Former Indian football captain, V. P. Sathyan.

At the age of 41, V. P. Sathyan committed suicide suffering from depression and financial distress. During his lifetime, he didn’t get the much-deserved appreciation for his talent and effort. But when his life got portrayed in a movie, people recognized his talent and his contributions to Indian football. But, by that time, he is no more.

Anyway, the actor who portrayed him and won the state award dedicated the award to V. P. Sathyan. The irony is, a person who was a real-life hero never got his due while he was alive. On the other hand, a person who portrayed him on big screen gets a state award for the best actor.

A few years ago, one of the popular actors in our state had been conferred with the title of Lieutenant Colonel just for portraying an army officer in a movie! This gesture of the central government is more or less ridicule at the valor and sacrifice of our army personnel.

Last year, I acted in a short film titled ‘Salumarada’ that portraits the life and principles of Thimakka, a childless lady who gained international attention when she won National Citizenship Award in 1996 for her environmental conservation initiatives. Her fellow villagers fondly call her Salumarada Thimakka. Salumarada in Kannada means a strip of adjacently planted trees. She planted and watered 384 teak saplings alongside a major road in her village in Karnataka. Considering her contributions towards the environment, the Indian government has conferred her with the title of Padma Shri this year.

Thimakka padmasriI was fortunate enough to meet her, receive blessings from her and share screen space with her in the short film. I’m really sad to realize that such a great recognition to an extraordinary, ordinary lady for her contributions towards society and environment took a long time to reach her. She is 107 years old. This shows the priority of recognition or appreciation in our society.

I always wonder when I see a poster of the fan club of an actor. For what the heck an actor needs a fan club whose contribution to the society is nothing other than acting in a movie and getting paid for it? Why can’t a fan club is being created for the real-life heroes of our country like Abdul Kalam, Rakesh Sharma, Kalpana Chawla or Abhinandan Varthaman? Why mere actors are celebrated in our society while real-life heroes who make real, appreciable contributions to our society is being ignored?

I attribute this phenomenon to the power of visual media – the ultimate weapon of mass distraction. It is the repercussion of the influence that movies and television exert in our thoughts and attitude over the years. The persons we see on television or on the big screen give us the impression that they are someone larger than life. That is the reason temples are built in their name and even a minuscule gesture or word from them is being glorified.

In fact, a society that grants more emphasis to entertainment by celebrating actors and sports stars is a nonthinking, stagnant society. When money, fame, and appreciation flow towards entertainment, talents also draws towards that direction. It is how things work in this world.

A society can embrace the future only if it takes the eyes off the buffoonery of reel-life celebrities and focuses on celebrating the achievements and contributions of real-life superstars. The deployment of investment, recognition, and appreciation in the fields of science, technology, education, and entrepreneurship can only transform our country into one of the superpowers in the world.

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