Preity Zinta Will Find Herself Increasingly Isolated

(Shobhaa De is an established writer, columnist, opinion shaper and social commentator, who is considered an authority on popular culture.)

That's the damn problem with celebrity spats - the personal becomes more important than the larger issues raised.

When such spats involve a beautiful and brave former 'Bollywood star' who is facing a slow and painful fade-out, and a volatile rich man  who happens to be a former lover and current business partner, it's a made-for-media story all the way.

The easiest thing to do with all the juicy material flying around is to dismiss it as a high-profile lovers' tiff, as certain journalists with deeply-vested interests have tried to do.

Once you reduce the case to nothing more serious than a former girlfriend's public pique at being dumped and possibly replaced by a younger, hotter woman, perspectives change and opinions alter. In Bambaiya-speak, it becomes another flippant Bollywood 'lafda', worth milking by scoop- famished mediawallas .  

It also makes Zinta look bad. Perhaps, that's the whole idea. Preity is being projected as either a 'poor thing' who can't handle rejection, or a neurotic, high -pitched, out-of-control woman chasing publicity at any cost.  This is grossly unfair to Zinta. As it would be to any other woman caught in similar circumstances.

Let's be honest : It takes guts to file an FIR against a powerful person who has allegedly been abusive in public. Abuse is abuse - verbal, physical, sexual. This is not a fight between equals. Pitted against Zinta is a wealthy, well-connected, individual. Zinta will find herself increasingly isolated, not just by her own film industry colleagues (evasive!), but even by those in her social circuit. That's Mumbai.

Zinta is no longer regarded as a force to reckon with in Bollywood - she has made too many professional mistakes, turning a flop producer being the latest. That's how it goes in the movie business - a female star is only as valuable as her last week's box office collections. Most fans will find it difficult to recall Zinta's last commercial hit. Becoming the part owner of an IPL team that narrowly missed the cup this season  has ensured a certain level of visibility.

But the debacle that took place at the stadium on May 30, and which is dominating media space right now, will only erode whatever is left of the PZ brand.

India is not terribly kind to strong -willed, outspoken women who are dubbed 'trouble makers' if they dare to raise their voices, especially against men. Zinta is such a woman. In the past, she has bravely stood up to pressure tactics by being the only witness to stand by earlier statements against the Indian Mafia in the notorious Bharat Shah case of  2003.

Today, she's at the centre of another ugly controversy and is being hauled over the coals across social media platforms.  Why not let the cops get on with their job? It must be noted that Zinta has not accused anybody of  molestation -sexual or otherwise. Her lawyer has sensibly relied on a Supreme Court verdict which specifies that the real test is whether an action "shocks the  sense of decency of a woman."  

If  Zinta was indeed called an "f#$% whore",  a "f#$% bitch"  in the presence of several people inside a stadium, as she claims, and reminded of the fact that she is just a 'bloody actress', one would think it definitely qualifies as a fit case that must have shocked her sense of decency - as it would, any woman's. And since Zinta's 'class' was also allegedly questioned in the exchange, it is appropriate to point out that generally it is the abuser who displays his / her true class....not the victim!

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