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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Age of the People Paparazzi

This blog is inspired in its entirety by Big B's blog (184 (i) dated October 24, 2008), wherein he shows a video of a crowd of cameramen surrounding the ambulance that carried him to hospital in an emergency relating to his recent illness, and writes:

“It will be observed through the video that has been posted, the manner in which an invasion of one's privacy even in a moment of grave emergency is violated. There is scant respect for the occasion or a compliance of ethics. It is in fact a desperate need to get that one image or images that shall seek satisfaction from your station head. It is business for them and a medical emergency for us.”

It is ironical that the incident occurred on the day Amitabh Bachchan was to be honored with award for being the best Citizen Journalist by the media, the same people who also encouraged the paparazzi to invade his privacy that day. The media, print or electronic, need not necessarily be involved directly with such a despicable scene as none from the camera-clicking crowd might be on their payroll, but they cannot absolve themselves from the blame. But for their offering big money to buy such images, the age of People Paparazzi would not have been ushered in. The age in which no celebrity in the world is safe from becoming victim of the people paparazzi. There are four billion mobile phones in the world today with cameras which have led the way in selling the public's images to websites, magazines, newspapers and TV around the world. Some of the biggest scoops include –

Karina Kapur kissing Shahid Kapur in a Mumbai Pub - Rs.10,000.
Ash-Abhi wedding – Rs.100,000.
Karina Kapur romancing Saif Ali – Rs. 20,000.
King Khan-Salman Khan fight – Rs.50,000.

How do the paparazzi sell their photos? Its very easy too. Anyone can email pictures from their cell phone or computer to the celebrity photo agency within minutes, which in turn sells them off to the highest bidder. (Some paparazzi do work independently or start their own agencies.) A typical deal gives 60 percent of the proceeds to the photographer and 40 percent to the middleman. If the photographer used information from the agency—such as, say, "Big B suddenly taken ill and will be taken to hospital immediately from his residence"—the agency might take an additional 10 percent. That extra money often goes toward paying off inside sources such as bodyguards or personal assistants.

Paparazzo was the name of a news photographer in "La Dolce Vita," the famous film by Italian director Federico Fellini. That name soon turned into a noun used to describe the buzzing hordes of shutter-bugs who earned a living by stalking out the rich and famous. In recent years, and especially since the death of Princess Diana, the term "paparazzo" has received a negative connotation. Today, the term is often used to distinguish between reckless star-chasers and more conservative photographers who work official events and studio shoots. There are plenty of agencies that represent paparazzi. Agencies try to sell pictures within 24 hours. The agency crops the images, adds captions, and wires them in digital form to publications around the world. A publication will typically buy exclusive rights to print the photo. Celebrity magazines and tabloids will also commission agencies to get certain pictures. If the editors at Mid-Day wanted a shot of Amitabh Bachchan coming out of the hospital, they might offer photographers a few hundred rupees a day. Exclusive shots net a great deal more, it doesn't bother the media whether they're taken by the most aggressive paparazzi. It's a tragic sign of the times, when someone actively hires a paparazzi to follow a celebrity even inside a hospital where he may be fighting for his life.. Really, really sad.

As a solution to the problem posed by paparazzi in Malibu City, an ocean-side enclave of Los Angeles, where Hollywood stars freely move, local government officials are considering regulations that aim to protect the privacy and safety interests of celebrities hounded by the paparazzi. Earlier this year, Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine proposed creating a "personal safety zone" that would require paparazzi to stay several feet away from the celebrities they photograph. Some such law needs to be enacted by the Government for the safety of our own beloved Bollywood stars. That may not be politically practicable, or if feasible may not be easily enforceable. Thanks to the invention of anti-paparazzi sunglasses, celebrities have another recourse to save themselves from the onslaught of the paparazzi. They work by mounting two small infrared lights on the front. The wearer is completely inconspicuous to the human eye, but cameras only see a big white blur where your face should be. Who knows, these glasses are already in vogue amongst our stars, some of who are always scene wearing sunglasses!


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