West indian culture

Celebrities need us as much as we need them, it’s a two-way street now


It wouldn’t be wrong to say that we as Indians are obsessed with our Bollywood celebrities. And over the past decade, paparazzi culture has taken this obsession to new levels. Audiences want to see everything from celebrity birthday parties, movie and song launches to on-set shoots. Thus, Bollywood photographers also cater to their needs by providing content on the go.

In fact, famous paparazzo accounts are followed by millions of people on social media. Manav Manglani, who has been a Bollywood photography ace for over two decades, is one such name in the industry and his followers are eagerly waiting to see exclusive photos and videos of celebrities. In an exclusive interview with Outlook, he talks about what led to the rise of paparazzi culture in Bollywood, the celebrity PR machinery and which celebrities are most favored by neighborhood photographers. Excerpts from the interview:

Why do you think paparazzi culture has grown in recent years?

It is because of the digital push that India has. Everyone is now on their phone most of the time. They consume a lot of content, and sports and Bollywood are among the favorites of Indians. This is one of the main reasons. On social media, there are breaking stories, people can see the stars as they go, what they do – not only in their glamorous roles – but also their daily activities, such as the gym, the meetings or airport looks. They get content as they go.

Previously, fans had to wait one or two days. The photos were clicked, then sent for printing and they arrived in the newspapers the next day. Audiences used to get all the dope from TV or print, now it’s on mobile. Plus, it’s also good for us because we also have good followers and high traction, so it’s also a career for photographers, who like to stalk celebrities, if you will.

Do celebrity managers and PR give out information about the star’s location to get the paparazzi to show up and click on it?

No, it happened earlier. It’s a two-way street. We need them for the photos, and they need us for the promotional activities considering how many followers the paparazzi accounts have now. They also get a scope, so they end up saying where they are. But that’s only 20% of the time. 80% is researching and finding out what’s going on in town, what celebrity is filming where and if a movie is coming up, tracking birthdays, and if a celebrity has an outdoor program planned, so we could spot at the airport and so on.

Some celebrities, like lead actor Jaya Bachchan, have often criticized paparazzi culture. How are you and your team taking it?

It happens often, but we tend to laugh about it. It’s only with some celebrities, not all. We respect Jaya Bachchan ma’am. She may not be too active on social media and she may still believe in print culture. Probably, that’s what makes her angry and we end up avoiding such situations.

More than dads, it is Youtubers who have sometimes made it difficult for celebrities. They have a channel and they want content recorded for it, even though they are not tied to any media organization. You can’t stop them because they all have phones now. They are also invited to events. But yes, there are more and more of them and celebrities are sometimes heckled to see so many people hoarding them. So that’s the negative part of the current paparazzi culture, I would say. They want to create content even if the celebrity is troubled by it all.

Who are the favorites among photographers since they rub shoulders with celebrities?

Most of them are really friendly with all photographers. Ranveer Singh, Varun Dhawan, Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Ananya Pandey, Alia Bhatt are all very friendly. That’s what I like about them. It’s a 12-14 hour shift for photographers. They care about us, ask us what’s going on, ask us to eat or drink water.

Manav Manglani has 2 million followers on Instagram.

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