The Brave New Online World of Krishna Shroff and Other Star Kids

  | November 30, 2015 08:11 IST (Mumbai)
Star Kids

The image on the left was posted on Instagram by kishushroff

They have yet to make their debuts (we don't even know yet whether they will or not), but on Instagram, on Facebook, on Twitter they are continuing at least part of the legacy. Psychiatrist Anjali Chhabria warns, "Sometimes, you know, these children have a lot of difficulties and issues with their parents"

In a land that celebrates dynasty, this shouldn't be a surprise. Especially since (for once) it's not political dynasties taking centre stage but those that belong to the big, bad, overblown world of Bollywood. Yes, we do love our film families and, in many cases, they've earned it. Star kids have come in, done their thing, they've soared, they've struggled, sometimes they sank. But one thing they have in common, they have, to a man and to a woman, been welcomed with open arms, all the way back to arguably the industry's very first star child: Raj Kapoor.
And while generations have come, been seen and conquered, there's whole host of others waiting in the wings. Brace yourselves: there's a new wave of celebs-in-waiting, ready to pounce. Except they're not entirely "in-waiting". The new stars of social media, or at least some of them, are young, exuberant and fairly often - famous by association. They're the offspring of celebrated parents, they have yet to make their debuts (we don't even know yet whether they will or not), but on Instagram, on Facebook, on Twitter they are continuing at least part of the legacy. Followers, fanbases, and in some cases even fan clubs. And the numbers, they're pretty impressive.
Aryan Khan, Shah Rukh's 17 year-old-son, has a Facebook fan club that already boasts over 75,000 likes. He's not even on Facebook.

Navya Naveli Nanda, Amitabh Bachchan's 18-year-old granddaughter, has 8,000 followers on Twitter and an impressive 16,000 on Instagram.

Anurag Kashyap's daughter Aaliya has amassed 25,000 followers on Instagram. She's just 14. The same age as Saif Ali Khan's son Ibrahim, who has a grand total of 35,000 followers on the photo-sharing site. His friend Nirvan Khan, son of Sohail Khan and nephew to Salman, has over 11,000 Twitter followers and 10,000 on Instagram.

That's a good haul for an average joe and for kids without careers-yet, we hasten to add-they're pretty staggering. Take Aalia Furniturewala: a student at NYU and the daughter of Pooja Bedi, she's done a web series with her mother and has Instagram followers in the region of 65000. And apparently, it's a fanbase that's not willing to settle for feeds alone. No, they want fan meets.
Aalia clarifies, "I find the term "fan" very strange, as I have never done anything." But that doesn't bother the fans, they requested a meet. "And I was like okay, why not? 5-10 people will show up. I walk towards the event, and I see this whole swarm of people outside. I was very overwhelmed by this. I walk inside, and there were people downstairs, and on top, there were more people, and I was so overwhelmed. I thought 'what have I done to deserve any of this?'"
It's a fair question, and she posits her own answer: "It is like people like me so much for just being me."
That's certainly part of it. For the rest, is it as simple as FOMO-or the fear of missing out - that drives youngsters to follow their peers so furiously? Is it the glamour that comes with these inheritors of legacies? Is it as simple as an appealing face and form? Krishna Shroff, the 22-year-old sister of Tiger, daughter of Jackie and Ayesha, shot to fame with these pictures:

#Repost @divina_rikhye_photography with @repostapp. With @kishushroff #natural #photography #portraitseries

A photo posted by Krishna Shroff (@kishushroff) on

She was as baffled as anyone. "I just put the photos casually on Instagram as I used to and this time the followers shot up to 99,500 straight away from 7,000. I was shocked to see the response. My father sort of kept me guarded from the whole limelight. I think those pictures would not have gotten viral if I didn't belong to this family, if I was just a random girl. The photos were not actually topless. If closely noticed, you will see that I am wearing something. It was more aesthetically done. My mother says that there is a line between good taste and bad taste. So, I don't think I have crossed the line.
17-year-old Ahaan Pandey happens to be the nephew of Chunky Pandey though it's a relationship he insists hasn't factored into his online success. In his case, it all began with something called askfm. He says, "AskFM is about showing your personality through answers. It has a group of people in a city. Like, Mumbai has a group and other cities have theirs. This has its own social circle. It doesn't go out of that social circle. I simply started with it and started asking questions. With time people started liking me." It spilled over to Instagram where he has over 27,000 followers.

Unsurprisingly, this is a favourite stomping ground. And they themselves confirm that 90 percent of local users are under 30 and within that, the 18-24 bracket is - again unsurprisingly - the most active. Smart phone users account for 80 percent of this group. And in an age of selfies and selfie sticks or pretty poses and perfect pouts, perhaps this was always going to happen. But FOMO can carry its own set of concerns.
Psychiatrist Anjali Chhabria warns, "I would be a little concerned about children who are following these figures. Sometimes, you know, these children have a lot of difficulties and issues with their parents, because, somewhere, they start feeling that their parents are not good enough. For example, if x person would come all the way from her village and make it so big, are you some kind of a loser who still goes to a bank and has a job? So, what happens is that, that is where we see issues coming up. Or, if everything I do or say is dependent on what people think of me, or how many likes I get on Instagram or Facebook, then that becomes a problem."
For the parents coming to grips with the sudden success of their children, it's a mixed bag. Some, like Pooja Bedi, delight in their success and, in fact, questions the double standards. "People are actually overreacting to the fact that it is too young, because you see all these reality shows on TV, where parents are thrusting their tiny, little, barely-out-of-their -toddlers-phase-kids into dance programmes, thrusting them into the limelight and there is serious pressure. And that's considered 'wow! they succeeded, wow!' Of course, it's a lot to handle, and as a mother, it makes me immensely happy, to see that my daughter is popular, loved, and looked up to and that people emulate her."
For the stars, as young adults-to-be, there are mutliple ways to mine the medium-for fun pure and simple, for good causes, even for a little pre-career image building. Aalia has used it for fundraising for social causes; Krishna says her primary goal is to support her brother; Ahaan, who does have plans to enter the film world, said it helps him figure out if he has a shot. " The most use I have got is because of the fact, I started a small production company on YouTube. I call it a production house, an amateur one, with my friends, and overnight, because of askfm, all of that, could take off. For me, as a person, it helped me see a side of me that I had never seen before; that I could actually cater to someone, and I could relate to someone."
For now though everyone agrees on one thing - it's here to stay and there's no getting away from that, so if you cant beat them, join them? Perhaps, though, if you're concerned about the flood of the almost famous, remember that the 14- 25 bracket is actually, excuse us, child's play. Consider this: Shilpa Shetty's son Viaan Raj Kundra boasts 14,000 Twitter followers! And he's just three years old.