Celebrities  And Their Afterlives



The year 2020 has been very cruel to Indian cinema and its artists. As the world continues to be upended by the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian film industry has lost some shining talents whose work has made magnificent contributions in furthering the Indian cinematic identity in global artscape. Audiences who worship celebrities like, Rishi Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Sushant Singh Rajput, Saroj Khan, S. P. Balasubrahmaniam, next to gods are yet to come to terms with the sudden demise of their favourite stars. They are shocked, shaken to the core, benumbed with pain as their departure in quick succession left a huge vacuum in hearts. Despite belonging to different life stages, all five artists created a distinct body of work significant enough to enamour the global artistry.


While films have witnessed  their talent in abundance, their lives  have witnessed struggle, hard work, dedication, rejections, failures and personal sufferings. A celebrity might leave the mortal form but what remains is his/her silent Sisyphean struggle as an artist in the public space. The fact that the wonderful creative minds breathe no longer, is difficult to internalise. The fact is also that these artists have left with us an oeuvre to go back to.  


This is the time to de-mystify their celebrity status and portray their engagement with art in everyday lives.


Stardom offers an outlet for human imagination, just as the gods and demigods of ancient Greece and Rome once did. The stars play many roles and serve many purposes in society. Richard Dyer in his seminal work Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society  goes on to depict how stars are of substantial importance in our daily lives ‘because they act out aspects of life that matter to us; and performers get to become stars when what they act out matters important to enough people’. 


Celebrities and superstars are closely integrated into our lives. They can be seen everywhere and all around, from pages of film magazines, to products of everyday use. Roland Barthes’s concept of myth is often used to analyse stardom and celebrity culture. In ‘The Photo Effect’ Barthes goes on to examine it as what he saw as the ‘here-now and the there-then’ paradox of photography. According to Barthes the photograph serves as a ready record, capturing and presenting something that is absent in reality; "it brings to us that which has already gone into the here-and –now through the illusion of reality of the image. Photographs according to Barthes are based upon a present/absent paradox. This concept resembles the lives of stars who are simultaneously present/absent creatures. The film star, a vision of corporeal perfection, intimately ‘there’ before the admiring spectator, is also simultaneously not there, a higher extraordinary being" a stellar entity that fascinates the admirer.


TMYS Review March 2021 would like to look back at their art, and attempt to revisit their lives remembering the work, their network, their channels and the attitude that immortalises them. 


Rishi Kapoor (1952-2020):

Rishi Kapoor had to establish his individuality against the gigantic names from his own family, huge enough to overshadow him. In fact, other than Rishi, no one from his generation of Kapoors could successfully rise up the success ladder in Bollywood. What was so special about Rishi Kapoor? How was it to be Rishi Kapoor in an industry which had Amitabh Bachchan glowing like the sun? While Rishi Kapoor's immediate generation identified him with films like Karz, Bobby, Sagar, Sargam, he had effortlessly given himself to women-centric films - Chandni, Nagina, Damini. At a stage past the prime, when people drift into typical character roles, Rishi Kapoor was ambitious and hungry - competing with Bachchan again, reestablishing himself with films like Mulk, 102 Not Out, Agneepath, Kapoor & Sons etc. His book Khullam Khullah is as vivacious as Kappor himself. 


Irrfan Khan (1967-2020):

Irrfan Khan entered the industry and rose to a space where he ended up challenging every definition of the quintessential 'Bollywood hero'! After initial years of struggle and negligible roles, he was unstoppable and dismissed the so-called glamour factor of stars with his acting prowess. From Maqbool, Lunchbox, Paan Singh Tomar, Life of Pi to Piku, Blackmail, Qarib Qarib Single, Jazbaa, he created an outstanding range that delighted his audience. His audience grew with him, as Khan went beyond the boundaries of Bollywood and found great acceptance in many international projects. And then in his last days, his Twitter handle discovered his philosophical side with poetry and life learning - which still inspires and influences, blocking his path from fading into a forgettable ‘past’. 


Sushant Singh Rajput (1986-2020):

There was a time when whatever Sushant Singh Rajput touched, turned into gold. And then there was a time when nothing seemed to work. Though Sushant got very limited time with his audience, the images he managed to inscribe are a force to reckon with. His talent was vast, his interests intellectual, sometimes beyond the grasp of the common man. He was the boy next door and yet distanced from the mundane. Some of his films that didn't gross well in the box office, were critically acclaimed. It's unfortunate that while Rajput would be remembered for M.S.Dhoni The Untold Story, Kai Po Che, Chhichhore and others, the audience woke up to Sonchidiya and Detective Byomkesh Bakshy only after they lost him. Other than his films, Rajput's Instagram posts make for a separate body of research.


Saroj Khan (1948-2020):

Saroj Khan is the first woman choreographer in Bollywood. For her, it has been a long struggle with many ups and downs. As a debutant in Gulzar's Mausam (1975), she was first noticed for her choreography in Sridevi's Nagin dance in Nagin. She won the Filmfare Best Choreography Award eight times, and also the National Award for Best Choreography. Trained by B. Sohanlal, she embraced Islam, married Sohanlal at the age of thirteen, got separated from him in 1965 but continued to work as his assistant. Her personal life apart, in a career of more than four decades, Khan choreographed more than 2000 songs. From Hawa Hawaii to Ek Do Teen to Dhak Dhak to Dola re Dola, she not only turned a queen-maker to many leading ladies of Indian cinema but also staged her life as a dance recital from one form to the next.


S. P. Balasubrahmaniam (1946-2020):

Destined to be a singer, S. P. Balasubramaniam performed in annual college programmes at AMIE. In 1964, after bagging the first prize in a music competition conducted by the then Madras-based Telegu Cultural Organisation, SP Kodandapani took him under his wings, and since then offers came pouring in. A leader of a music troupe, he was a playback singer who started his career in 1966. He sang more than 40,000 songs in more than 5 different Indian languages, including Telegu, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi and Malayalam. He held the world record in the Guinness Book of World Records for having sung the greatest number of song recordings by any singer. Apart from this, he has acted in some movies and hosted a children's singing show in Andhra Pradesh. Covid-19 Pandemic has silenced the singer but not his songs.



Project Lead

Sonal Pandey
School of Humanities & Social Sciences
Digital Humanities
Indian Institute of Technology, Indore





TMYS Review is inviting essays on either of the five artists - Rishi Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Sushant Singh Rajput, Saroj Khan and S. P. Balasubramaniam.


Who can submit: established, emerging or independent scholars


Mentors & Guest Readers:











1. TMYS Review - March 2021 issue will release on the last week of March, 2021

2. The best submissions will go up for publication on TMYS Review.

3. Each Guest Reader will select the essay/s he or she wants to discuss with the author.

4. Each discussion session will be webcast in March/April 2021

5. The net profit (80% of sales) from TMYS Review - March 2021 issue will be distributed equally among all winning contributors. 

6. The selected contributors will be notified accordingly via email.

7. Excerpts from the selected essays will be highlighted on social media, all through February-March 2021

8. Other than sending email intimations, all winners will be announced in March 2021 on the social media handles of TMYS: FacebookLinkedinTwitterInstagram.


Content Guidelines:

1. March 2021 issue of TMYS Review seeks to explore the immortality of art and factors that eternalize artists based with special focus on the film industry and the five very talented artists we lost in 2020. Given below are some contexts. The contributors may choose their dimensions or add more dimensions as appropriate, to the given discourse.

a. The Consumers or the audience - the bodies of recipients. The people watching the films/shows or consuming the social media content or following the endorsements or simply copying and loving everything their icons seemed to love. Each time one reads a book, or listens to a piece of music, or watches a film or a play or a dance recital, not only the work of art but also the artist is made to live. And since people are constantly responding to art, it follows that artists are perpetually alive.

b. Technology -  we must be grateful to technology since it allows works of art to be preserved or archived. This not only grants eternity to artists but can also present a historical property to contemporary audience with relevant effects and consumption preferences. The user experience granted by technology is also often derived to be the grandeur of the artist, and thus technology plays a vital part in the making and sustaining of an artist!

c. The Larger-Than-Life expanse - comparative study of the work of art and the artist with relevance to other contemporary narratives and also the changing times. Deep contribution of an artist in furthering the cultural, social and gender responses of an era. The perceptions of perfection that might exert immense pressure on the artist and yet, without those he or she is as disillusioned as the common man.

2. Choose ONLY ONE of the five icons to build your content for the essay, with reference to one, all or more of the contexts above (in pt. 1)

3. The essays must restrict to the work and art of the artists – the stories they created for public consumption and the images they impressed in the larger-than-life vision. We DON’T want any content based on general or specific opinion of or about their personal lives or unwarranted controversies.


Structural Guidelines:

1.    Word count : 3000 - 3500 words

2.    A suitable title in the beginning of the essay, indicative of the contributor's primary line of research, under the given theme.

3.    Author introduction, around 200 words, written in third person.

4.    An Abstract, around 400 words, explaining the essential thought and flow of the essay.

5.    It would be preferred that the academic critic and analytical commentary be enriched with diverse insights from the theories of  History/Psychology/Philosophy/Literature/Anthropology/Sociology, based on the discipline of the scholar, to establish the research points in the submissions. 

6.    A bibliography at the end in MLA format.

Submission Guidelines:

1. Please adhere to the theme. All submissions to TMYS Review that do not follow the theme or the content guidelines will be rejected.

2. All submissions should be emailed to

3. While making a submission, mention in the subject line : the title of the essay, <name of the artist the essay is based on> and March 2021.

4. The submissions should be attached as word files with the email.

5. All submissions should use Calibri/Times New Roman, font size 12; font size 16 for headings and font size 14 for sub headings if any. Line spacing : 1.5

6. Only original and previously unpublished work will be considered.

5. A participation fee of INR 200/- (USD 2.72)                         will be charged per contribution. This is a                           non-refundable fee, but we will do our best                             to cooperate in case you have made an error                           that can be corrected to help you resubmit.                             In each such case, our decision will be final.

You may also make an NEFT payment to our bank,                          in which case you will receive complete tax waiver. 

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6. Post making the payment, please send a mail at to register yourself.

***Registration doesn't guarantee publication*** 

7. Simultaneous/multiple submission is accepted, with the same fee for each submission

8. Decision of the editors will be final.

9. Last date of submissions : 10th January 2021

10. Contact for Queries : write QUERIES in subject line and send us an email at; we apologise in advance for not responding to obvious or irrelevant queries.