Orry, Shehnaaz, Elvish became newage stars:

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The birth of new age celebrities–Shehnaaz Gill, Uorfi Javed, Elvish Yadav and Orry–and what it means for stardom as we know it.

Shehnaaz

How to turn into a big name? Envision a top of the line grocery store, where the best in class glossy thing is the film superstar starter pack. Individuals can get to it, yet not every person can utilize it. Its fixings are straightforward, however difficult reachable ubiquity that cuts across orientation, district and age, film industry numbers to flex, social effect for now is the right time and, obviously, heritage. In 2023, the element of the starter pack maybe has gone through a slight change; it currently incorporates yet isn’t restricted to-online entertainment following. Does it actually taste well?

How to become a celebrity? Imagine a high-end supermarket, where the top-shelf shiny item is the movie celebrity-starter pack. People can access it, but not everyone is able to use it. Its ingredients are simple, but not easy achievable– popularity that cuts across gender, region and age, box office numbers to flex, cultural impact for its time and, of course, legacy. In 2023, the ingredient of the starter pack perhaps has undergone a slight change; it now includes–but isn’t limited to–social media following. Does it still taste well?

From Bollywood’s point of view, 2023 will be earmarked as the triumphant return of Shah Rukh Khan. His films smashed records, made fans sing and dance, created a stir and continued to win new audience. But away from the shadow of the offline mega stardom on display, birthed, lived and became stronger a new breed of stars– the online kind.

The trendy newsmakers who overwhelmed 2023 were the web sensation Orhan Awatramani, formally an extraordinary undertaking supervisor at Dependence Ventures Restricted however generally an entertainment world sweetheart, #1 of numerous since her introduction on Bigg Manager Shehnaaz Gill, the proud and capricious Uorfi Javed and the YouTuber who surprised the television, Elvish Yadav.

The four ‘stars’ which bit into a sizeable chunk of news generation at various phases last year, deeply benefited from an audience base that wanted to know more about them, see more of them, even be like them. Though all of them have cultivated a loyal following for reasons distinct from each other, what has pinned them all on the popularity chart is the nail of voyeurism.

Curious gawkers sprinkled all over the internet ensured that the four popular personalities remain on top of the chain– but there is a flip side. Unlike traditional popularity generated by the movies, internet fame can perhaps be earned easily–with the right positioning, at the right time–but is also dangerously short-lived. All the four internet personalities earned this by a well-designed stragergy, even if for some it may have well begun by accident.

The new female star– at least online

She isn’t really a 2023 born sensation, but the year was a stepping stone for her as she stepped from Instagram reels right on to the Bollywood big screen– Shehnaaz Gill. The Punjab-based actor’s rise to fame was in 2019, when she participated in the reality show Bigg Boss. Shehnaaz soon emerged as one of the most popular contestants on the show, and despite not winning it, perhaps became the biggest talking point later.

Shehnaaz, who hadn’t really tasted any major success back in the Punjabi film industry, became a household name with the Salman Khan hosted show, but her might truly started to show once the show got over and her fans pretty much assembled on the internet to hype her up. A mere mention of Shehnaaz today guarantees social media virality– be it a piece of news, reel, image or a comment. If Shehnaaz is mentioned, her fan army ensures it gets sufficient traction. Take the case of her two Hindi releases of the year– Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan and Thank You For Coming.

While the former was headlined by Salman Khan and the latter featured Bhumi Pednekar in the lead, Shehnaaz remained as one of the biggest viral-worthy personality with regards to content generation. If Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan centered around how she was making her Hindi debut, her post Bigg Boss journey and closely guarded personal life, Thank You For Coming took it a step further. Both the movies sank, but Shehnaaz managed to stay afloat in the news cycle and trend lists. But there is a catch.

Though Shehnaaz Gill has so far remained on top of the social media relevance pyramid, one wonders how far and long the spot can be held without, since she is primarily an actor, solid work backing her. In a previous interview with Indianexpress.com, Shehnaaz had shared a telling line about how she is aware the path for her won’t be easy. “It is completely a lie if people believe that I am a rising star just because I have gotten an entry in Bollywood.  I am aware I have to work hard. Only talented people get opportunities. The world has become smarter today.”

From YouTube to TV screens

The rise of Elvish Yadav is one for the digital books. A Haryana-based YouTuber builds a loyal fan base, then starts a second YouTube channel primarily to diss movies, gains substantial clout, amps it up with his Twitter following, gets mired in several controversies and as what happens with anyone with this trajectory, ultimately finds a spot on Bigg Boss. If Shehnaaz Gill has her fanbase ready to come to her rescue, Elvish has, what he calls, his ‘army’.

These fans, who swear by the YouTuber, defend him against all odds– even if it means running a trend against Salman Khan, after they felt the superstar insulted him on one of the episodes of the show. They are likely also the reason why Elvish won the last season of the show, after having received a whopping 280 million votes during the live voting in the finale. Post his win, as was the case before he appeared on the show, Elvish has remained a popular figure on the internet.

These four standout figures have very successfully placed themselves in public discourse. But the harder part begins now. For what happens when someone new with inside access, another Bigg Boss darling, an opinionated fashion influencer and a rising YouTuber enters the sphere? Will they continue to remain relevant, hold on to their fan base or fight with the attention span of viewers who are one scroll away on jumping to the new sensation? Only 2024 will tell how sustainable the new celebrity starter pack is.

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