By Deepika Hariani
Sexy Bollywood star Mallika Sherawat was excited about having met pop sensation Usher in Los Angeles. He even promised to dedicate a song to her. Leading star Priyanka Chopra came down with an eye infection when she was shooting for one of her forthcoming films, and A-list director Karan Johar faced a 'director's block' in an attempt to write a scene for his next film, My Name is Khan.
Not so long ago, it was the paparazzi who broke such headlines, feeding fodder to starved celebrity fans. But now, we're hearing it straight from the horse's mouth -- no secret "sources", no misquoting. All the above mentioned news is information we've gathered from the virtual Bollywood tree, where more and more celebrities are gathering to tweet. In direct competition to the media, Bollywood stars have taken to microblogging; they're updating their fans in 140 characters or less.
With Hollywood celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Lindsay Lohan and Brad Pitt regularly updating their Twitter feed, their Bollywood brethren could not have been left far behind. It was only after celebrites back home began tweeting, that most youngsters in India discovered the social networking tool for the first time. Prior to this, the common perception about Twitter was that it was a place for geeky technophiles, hence making it difficult for the networking site to penetrate the Indian market, otherwise dominated by Facebook and Orkut. Data from analytic companies reveals that Twitter witnessed a huge traffic growth and registered a 74% jump (in terms of unique users) in March 2009 in India.
While a couple of celebrities have been on Twitter for a while, it was sex-siren Mallika Sherawat's presence on the broadcasting platform that raised the site's popularity in India. The actress known for her bold and brazen ways began twittering to promote her Hollywood project, Hissss. Banking on her fan following back home, Mallika Sherawat became the first Indian celebrity to have visited the Twitter Headquarters in San Francisco, California on July 14 this year. Twitter staff members informed Mallika's producers that "since Mallika joined the Twitter service, membership in India has skyrocketed."
While some Indian celebrities use it as a platform to promote their films others like A-list star Preity Zinta willingly give followers a peek into their otherwise fiercely guarded personal lives. The actress recently shouted out on Twitter that the worst part about being an actress was the pressure to look gorgeous all the time and be perfect. She went on to say she wasn't. "Nobody is," she said. Latest entrant Bipasha Basu has left the updating to her staff members who tweet about the actresses' whereabouts. Some, are even doing live twitter movie reviews while watching the film!
However, not all little birdies in Bollywood are chirpy about Twitter. One, actor Shahid Kapoor, complained about an impersonator creating a fake profile, and stealing his identity.
Now, catfights too have moved to the bird cage, with the industry's two leading ladies squabbling over who has more followers. The loser, has now challenged the other to a virtual tweet-off! When one of them -- Priyanka Chopra -- was contacted by a daily tabloid she said, "Now I'm hoping my twitter family is going to grow even more!"
Read more at Indipepal.