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Cause without a rebel

Cause without a rebel

What does Imran's plea for lowering the minimum drinking age or Abhay's concern for Irom have in common? Read on to find out.

Whether it's squeezing cheeks of Tsunami victims or chopping ribbons at schools for the under-privileged, Bollywood stars have always stood up for what they believe in (or whatever attracts enough traction). The reasons for extending an arm to issues that bother society or affect mankind could be many. For some, it's presenting a socially conscious and responsible side to fans, for some it's the only way of getting into the dailies, but more recently, strategic self-branding just before a film release has become a popular reason.
So, it's hardly a surprise that Imran Khan filed a PIL (a couple of weeks before his 'Delhi Belly' hits the screens) voicing the grouse of teens and those in their early 20s who would be denied alcohol following a new law. Also Abhay Deol's sudden concern for the 'Iron Lady of Manipur', Irom Chanu's hunger strike seems just the right reason to be in the press before his mega-multi-starrer, 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' releases.
Now, it can be argued: Why align yourself with a cause and subliminally market your film rather than going the traditional way? The answer is obvious. These cleverly crafted social marketing initiatives are far more effective than the best endorsements in the business. A good example, the number of people who moved to a popular hair colour brand endorsed by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan would be a fraction compared to those who signed up to donate their eyes, when she led a campaign urging people to do so. When our idol feels for a cause (or atleast pretends to), we notice the concern in a different light and are obliged to empathise. It makes us feel like we're doing it for them and for a larger good, the two vital ticks that take us from 'indifferent' to 'concerned' to 'I don't need to be a Baba to go on a hunger strike'.
Conversely, mismanaging these efforts could result in a PR nightmare, for instance, Aamir Khan's Narmada debacle or Vivek Oberoi's inappropriately cinematic photo-op with the Tsunami-affected.
There are just a few golden rules to ensure smooth operation: The cause must be fitting, the efforts must be sincere and the dialogues must not seem rehearsed. So don't go overboard like you're going to forsake your acting career if your activist steps don't garner enough attention. A few quotes in the media, an online petition and if need be, a crisp press conference, and you're off sailing. If you end up doing otherwise, what you stand for will seem like a cause without a rebel.