Journo Justin Rao Exposes How Stardom Today In ‘Manufactured’ Using Fake Crowds & Engagement

Justin Joseph Rao is a distinguished and popular entertainment journalist who uncovers the inner workings of the film industry. He has carved a niche for himself as a trusted source of information and analysis. He brings forth stories that explore the reality behind the stars and the ever-changing landscape of the entertainment industry. He is a pretty fearless journalist too and once stood up to Kangana Ranaut after she verbally attacked him at a press conference during the promotions for her film ‘Judgemental Hai Kya’.


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Justin Rao recently wrote an article for The Indian Express where he exposed how stardom is being manufactured in the age of social media. Ever since awards have lost their credibility, considering they can be bought, celebrities are now manufacturing how the audience perceives them using social media.

Justin spoke to marketing agencies, members of the paparazzi, publicists and even stars who, on the condition of anonymity, revealed some pretty shocking truths about the ‘making’ of a star nowadays.

“It is 2024, where stars are not born — but manufactured,” Justin writes in his article.

Everything – from crowds to fan interactions to crowded theatres – is paid for. There are “crowd-supplying agencies” that tie up with marketing agencies. They charge anywhere between Rs 30,000 to Rs 1 lakh depending on the crowd one needs.

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After the release of a film, you will come across videos on social media where the actors of the film enter a crowded auditorium to thank the fans for their love. You would think that the stars entered a random theatre which was genuinely crowded. But that’s not it.

“Most of the people who eventually end up inside an auditorium aren’t even fans of the actors. The process is simple. The said agencies have a network of colleges, where they speak to the student co-ordinator or the student head of college festivals. The deal is usually a barter, where the agency asks for constant student crowd in return of a celebrity for their college fest,” Justin claimed.

Previously, trailer launches and press conferences used to be journalist-only events but nowadays, there are more fans than there are journalists. Crowd-supplying and marketing agencies provide these “fans” with posters, t-shirts and whistles. When the star enters the stage, the crowd cheers. The actor thinks that their film is such a hit, even when they know that the crowd is paid for. It’s like they live in their own bubble.

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“To book an event at a multiplex screen, the makers pay approximately Rs seven-eight lakhs. Then the agency to get in the crowd would charge Rs 50,000. Later, the producer would shell out an additional cost to paid trade influencers to build a narrative. The paid influencers, charging anywhere between Rs 15,000 to Rs 60,000 per tweet, would hype the film or the star. Then, videos and pictures from the events would be pushed online,” revealed Justin.

The crowds outside restaurants, the homes of actors, on sets, during promotional events – it’s all an illusion. Apparently, the entire Mumbai knows about this fabrication. But for a person sitting in a different city – who is scrolling through social media and coming across a video showing a huge crowd surrounding an actor – it is believable.

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But for how long will this continue?

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