PR movies: Exploring Bollywood’s rare portrayal of PR professionals in cinema

Unlike their Western counterparts, Bollywood films often overlook the lives of publicists. However, there are a few standout exceptions where the spotlight briefly shines on these behind-the-scenes orchestrators of celebrity image and perception.

In Heroine, written and directed by Madhur Bhandarkar, actress Divya Dutta takes on the role of Kareena Kapoor’s astute publicist. Handling controversies with finesse and shaping her client’s branding strategy, Dutta’s character is rumoured to have drawn inspiration from Bollywood PR maven Dale Bhagwagar. Known for his deft maneuvers in the industry, Bhagwagar has not only navigated numerous high-profile campaigns but also managed Dutta’s early career trajectory.

Contrary to speculation, Bhagwagar denies any direct involvement in crafting the character, suggesting it would have been the vision of the film’s writer-director. “Though Madhur knows me personally, and I have handled the PR for Divya long ago, they would not be aware of about my internal PR mechanisms, strategies, spin and machinery,” he remarks, dismissing any direct correlation between his strategies and the character’s portrayal as “coincidental”.

In Bombairiya, actress Radhika Apte portrays a PR professional whose tumultuous journey unfolds after her mobile phone is stolen. These fleeting depictions aside, Bollywood remains relatively silent on exploring the intricate workings and personal narratives of PR professionals on the big screen.

While these glimpses offer tantalizing insights into celebrity PR in India, they underscore a broader narrative gap within Bollywood’s cinematic scene. Perhaps in time, more films will delve deeper into the nuanced world of public relations, shedding light on the unsung heroes who shape the public personas of stars behind closed doors.

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