Fanning the flames of a conversation
An event this weekend will dissect what it means to be part of a fandom and how such communities can become agents of change
It's a curious thing how people living in India sometimes follow a foreign football club such that they feel compelled to say "we" lost or "we" won a match depending on the result. They invest such a large part of themselves in the team that they feel a sense of identity with it. There’s also a feeling of community. A person who supports, say, Real Madrid will automatically connect with another supporter of the Spanish club giant. This holds true not just for football, but also for musicians, actors or anyone else in the public eye. The sense of commitment that fans bring to the table can translate into all these other avenues as well.
A scene from Being Bhaijaan
Yet, there is precious little academic insight into understanding what makes such people tick, though an event this weekend at Godrej India Culture Lab seeks to alter that situation. Called The Great Indian Fandom Conference, it involves film screenings, panel discussions and expert talks on dissecting the subject. The speakers include Twinkle Choudhary, admin of BangtanINDIA, a fan club for K-pop icons BTS; Amlan Das, media manager of Delhi Dynamos Football Club; and mid-day’s senior assistant editor Rajendra Aklekar, who also belongs to The Indian Railways Fan Club. Together, they will delve into what it means to build a sense of community, and even become agents of change, based on a shared love for a certain entity.
Saniya Shaikh, the show’s curator, tells us, "I think that while there are many different communities in society already, it’s becoming increasingly difficult at this point in time to start a conversation between two diverse sets of people. There are many communities formed on the basis of ideology. But there are great ideas coming up in silos. Individuals aren’t really talking to each other, in that sense. And fandoms are great in that regard because people who are part of, say, a BTS fan club might come from many different backgrounds. But through their shared love, there are many issues that might be brought to the fore. The musicians might sing about something in a socio-political context for instance, and it’s interesting to see how the various fans make it their own and start a multi-faceted conversation on the subject."
She adds that the three films that will be screened are For the Love of a Man, which is on Rajnikanth; Being Bhaijaan, on Salman Khan; and The Queen of my Dreams, where director Fawzia Mirza talks about her childhood desire for Sharmila Tagore. But don’t let these cinematic subjects fool you into thinking that the event will only dissect people’s passion for celebrities. Aklekar, for example, will talk about how the railway fan club is closely connected to the authorities and helps bring about visible impact. And that really is one of the biggest plus points about the concept of fandom. It might not be easy for a single person to bring about large-scale betterment in society. But together, we can all make a positive change.
On September 20 and 21, 5 pm
At Godrej Culture Lab, Pirojshanagar, Vikhroli.
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