Not far on the heels of the pioneering Aamir Khan and the now-not-so-reticent Amitabh Bachchan, Bollywood hunk Salman Khan has entered the blogosphere (http://duskadum.blogspot.com) to promote a show he will soon anchor on TV. The dishy Khan made a whole generation of female fans sigh and swoon as the love-struck Akash Varma in Saajan. His maiden forays online and on the small screen will surely set hearts aflutter again, this time among fans who may have barely been out of their diapers back when Salman serenaded Madhuri with “Tumse Milne Ki Tamanna Hai”.
It must be said that Bollywood cottoned on to the potential of the internet very early on. By the mid to late 1990s many movies had presciently invested in websites regardless of the fact that the internet itself was something of a novelty. Today, a website and other online promotion methods are de rigueur in film marketing. But the blogging bug is a new one. Film stars seem to have understood that the way ahead is social and interactive.
This realisation is part of a larger boom in the high-tech sector. The uptake of technology-driven solutions is surprisingly high in India. Everyone knows that desis love their mobile phones, their ring tones and their caller tunes. Despite sluggish connections, folk in India are also avid bloggers, YouTubers, photo sharers and, to the chagrin of the record industry, peer-to-peer downloaders. With Bollywood becoming increasingly tech-savvy, India is seeing the emergence of a seamless infotainment world that easily rivals any in the West. Of course, there are glitches. As mentioned earlier, bandwidth sucks. We still don’t seem to have the hang of slick animation or blow-you-away graphic design. But the technical prowess of our home-grown geeks and the enthusiasm of the janta more than make up for these shortcomings.
What remains to be seen is whether the new-found fervour for the online world will lead to a dumbing-down and stupefaction of popular culture, as has unfortunately been seen in many parts of the world, or whether it will yield an enriched and democratised public space, as the founding fathers of the internet (Negroponte, Berners-Lee, etc.) had originally envisaged.
I guess if Salman Khan and Sir Tim Berners-Lee can find cogent coexistence in a single blog post, anything is possible online. Let the bits move!