Hindustan Times - Brunch - - FRONT PAGE - – Ananya Ghosh ananya.ghosh@hin­dus­tan­ Fol­low @ananya1281 on Twit­ter

Once upon a time, the only way you knew any­thing about your favourite Bol­ly­wood peo­ple was via gos­sip mag­a­zines. Now, thanks to Twit­ter, you see them the way they ac­tu­ally are.

Of all the In­dian celebri­ties tap­ping out 140-char­ac­ter snip­pets for their fol­low­ers, ac­tor Rishi Kapoor and di­rec­tors Shirish Kun­der and Ram Gopal Varma are the pithi­est and most acer­bic, show­ing sides of them­selves their fans per­haps never imag­ined.

This, says Pratik­sha Rao, head of me­dia part­ner­ships for South­east Asia at Twit­ter, is why their ac­counts sim­ply buzz with fol­low­ers. “More pop­u­lar ac­counts are set apart from the oth­ers be­cause they are a fun mix of who the per­son­al­i­ties are and the things they talk about,” says Rao. “They show­case a pre­vi­ously un­seen side to them­selves.”

Here’s what makes @chintskap, @ShirishKun­der and @RGV­zoomin tick.

Was Rishi Kapoor the orig­i­nal chocolate hero? Go­ing by his Twit­ter time­line, the vet­eran ac­tor is more caus­tic than chocolate. “Why the term "Chocolate" he­roes please?” tweets Kapoor. “Hu­men dekhkar chocolate yaad aata hai? Aur jo nahin woh kya "nimbu"he­roes hain?. The fa­ther of to­day’s su­per­star Ran­bir and, one of the most suc­cess­ful ac­tors from the first fam­ily of Bol­ly­wood, has been more in the news in re­cent times for his forth­right com­ments on pol­i­tics, co-stars and pok­ing fun at him­self: all hit­ting the mark in 140 char­ac­ters or less. “I don’t smoke; right now I am also job­less,” says Kapoor. “So when­ever I am bored, I tweet!” Kapoor’s tweets are of­ten witty, and al­most al­ways drenched in an acidic hu­mour that is hard to re­sist. So much so that, of his more than mil­lion fol­low­ers on Twit­ter, a fair num­ber sign up for his tweets less be­cause he’s a star and more be­cause he’s so funny.

“When I started tweet­ing, my wife was dead against it,” says Kapoor. “She thought I would miff a lot of peo­ple. But peo­ple liked my posts, they were hon­est and up­front. So I con­tin­ued. I never force my­self to be funny to get at­ten­tion. This is how I am. Peo­ple like that, and my fol­low­ing on Twit­ter keeps grow­ing. But I never ex­pected it to be­come this big.”


Kapoor’s tweets are never lim­ited to just one topic or kind of style. Go to his Twit­ter feed and you may find a still from the film Rafoo

Chakkar in which he is dressed as a girl, or his ag­o­nised tweet look­ing back at his own sar­to­rial choices: “What guts! Don’t miss the red shoes and the red belt. Aaaaggggh­h­h­h­hhh”.

What makes him dif­fer­ent from other celebri­ties on­line? Kapoor talks to his fol­low­ers as he might chat with his friends, with hon­esty and forthright­ness, about what­ever comes to his mind. Un­like most ac­tors, he does not use Twit­ter to pro­mote him­self or his films, and that, on a PR-heavy plat­form, is in­deed re­fresh­ing.

“What I tweet de­pends on what I feel, what mood I am in,” he says. “I am a very hon­est and out­spo­ken per­son in real life, and that re­flects in my tweets. Some­times peo­ple don’t take it kindly, some­times they don’t get my sense of hu­mour, some­times they con­tra­dict my views just for the heck of it, and some­times they really like it. Which­ever the case, it doesn’t really mat­ter to me: I am not tweet­ing to please peo­ple, I am tweet­ing be­cause I want to.”

Most of his tweets are di­rected at him­self. Check this out: “Obe­sity is not be­cause it runs in the Kapoor fam­ily! It is be­cause no one runs in the Kapoor fam­ily!”

But he is just as forth­right about po­lit­i­cal is­sues. When BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi bru­tally beat up po­lice horse Shak­ti­man in Dehradun, he de­manded le­gal ac­tion. And when Sunny Leone was sub­jected to some of­fen­sive ques­tions dur­ing an in­ter­view, Kapoor tweeted: “Very un­fair& rude in­ter­view with Sunny Leone on CNN IBN. She is tak­ing it on her chin sport­ingly, ob­vi­ously in the in­ter­est of her com­ing film”.

Kapoor says he is sim­ply ex­er­cis­ing his right to free speech. “I have the right to speak my mind on a so­cial plat­form. If I feel strongly about an is­sue, I tweet my opin­ion on it,” he says.

“I try to not be hurt­ful. I am not a hyp­ocrite,” he adds. “In one or two in­stances I might have come close to be­ing one, and re­tracted my state­ments. If I say some­thing and then re­alise that I was wrong, I im­me­di­ately apol­o­gise. I treat my Twit­ter fol­low­ers as my fam­ily.”


Some­times even speech as di­rect as Kapoor’s can be mis­con­strued, as it was when he greeted Twin­kle Khanna on her birth­day with: “Happy Birth­day dear one! You were in your mums tummy when I was ser­e­nad­ing her in Bobby “Ak­sar koi Ladka” in 1973 lol”.

Quick as a tweet, ru­mours spread that Twin­kle’s mother Dim­ple Ka­pa­dia might have been preg­nant be­fore she mar­ried Ra­jesh Khanna. But Kapoor was hav­ing none of that. “Kuch lo­gon ko prob­lem Kya hai? Kakaji and Dim­ple were mar­ried, Bobby was still in­com­plete, we shot that song when Dim­ple was 3 months preg­nant”, he tweeted, an­noyed.

Con­tro­versy struck again when, while shoot­ing for Kapoor &

Sons, he took a dig at Alia Bhatt’s IQ and Son­akshi Sinha’s weight. Fans, fem­i­nists and ac­tivists were en­raged. Kapoor deleted the tweet, but stated that both ac­tresses con­cerned were like his own kids. “These guys know me too well to feel of­fended by such a tweet!” Kapoor says with a laugh.

More than trolls, what ir­ri­tates Kapoor most are peo­ple who fol­low him hop­ing to get in touch with his ac­tor son Ran­bir Kapoor. “Since Ran­bir is not there on any so­cial net­work­ing sites, I get so many posts from his girl fans and if I don’t re­spond to their posts, they get of­fended. Young­sters to­day are so child­ish!” he bel­lows.

It is time, per­haps to re-post his tweet that had his fol­low­ers on Twit­ter dou­ble over with laugh­ter

(see pic­ture): A Grumpy Cat with a sign: ‘I’m not Ran­bir’s mail­box!’

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