Don’t be starstruck, be a die-hard fan – Harshita Vaishnav
She is Bollywood’s official “Fan Girl” who has taken ‘fan’dom to an all new level. And it doesn’t stop there. She is a celebrity PR professional, a stylist and a social media junkie. Meet Harshita Vaishnav as she narrates her journey of becoming a fan girl, her celebrity crushes, helping other fans meet their star idols and much more.
A Fan Girl’s journey
As a fan, my first craze was Abhishek Bachchan, which was around the year 2004-2005. At that time there was no social medium where you could go all out verbally. And then Abhishek got married to Aishwarya and that was a big heartbreak.
Then in 2007 came Saawariya and Ranbir Kapoor became a heartthrob. Facebook had just come in and there was Orkut too. So I became very verbal about my liking for Ranbir and kept writing about him on my Facebook profile, Orkut, everywhere I could. I was literally pleading to meet him and luckily happened to meet him in 2009. There was an IBN Live contest going on for Wake Up Sid – a Date with Sid and they approached me since they had seen my page and knew I was a diehard fan. So I gave it a shot and within a week, I was shortlisted and ended up winning a date with Ranbir Kapoor. Can you imagine meeting your hero whom you have been dying to meet for over two years? It was a dream come true. And Ranbir was so nice to me. When I achieved my dream, I thought that every fan should get a chance to meet their favorite star because I got to know how special it feels. So I started by making a Facebook page for Ranbir fans called ‘Ranbirholic’. And it became so popular that people would go up to Ranbir, much to his surprise, and ask him, “Do you know Harshita?” In fact, Ranbir told me how popular I’d become.
So I continued to post things on the page and tried, in my own way, to promote his films – Rockstar, Barfi etc. As time went by Ranbir became bigger and even I got busy with my studies. But a lot of people started taking inspiration from what I was doing and they would contact me and ask if I could help them meet their favorite star, get an autograph etc. And I did try and help as many people as I could.
In 2012, when Ishaqzaade released Arjun Kapoor became a rage. He was a self-made guy who had gone through a lot; lost his mother just before the release of his film, battled weight issues and risen above it all. I too was overweight and he was like an inspiration for me. I happened to meet him during the promotions of his film and he was such a humble and sweet guy. I started calling myself ‘Arjunzaadi’ and even started his fan page that is being run even today. After that everyone started using me as an example about how I would just go and meet the celebrities that I liked and do things that I wanted to. That’s when I thought that why not make “Fan Girl” a brand and try and connect as many fans as possible with their celebrities, give them that moment of happiness, if nothing more.
The Fan’s World
A lot of upcoming celebrities started approaching me to handle their social media because they thought that my posts looked very genuine and natural. Till then I had never thought of it from a career perspective. Also when I was associated with Ranbir, a lot of media people would call me and ask for gossip, updates etc. I would save those numbers to avoid them but by the end of it I had almost 70 percent of the media as contacts. I also happened to try my hand at publicity for a friend’s film and it turned out well and that is how PR happened. Initially I did work at other agencies but most of them had a problem with my being a fan girl. People do not respect fans and look at them as obsessed, jobless people but that is not always the case. There are two types of fans – one who just go to every event, click pictures, eat free food and come back, while the others are those who genuinely go beyond a boundary to do something for their star and don’t expect much in return. The maximum you expect is to meet your star. And that is how I thought of starting my own venture and “The Fan’s World” happened. We specialize in PR and social media but also create contests and other opportunities where fans get a chance to meet their favorite celebrities.
Making dreams come true
Since I’m in the field of PR, I do have other PR friends too. So even if I don’t know a celebrity personally, I do know of the events that happen around. So I request my PR friends and try to take a fan along to an event, maybe an award show to get the red carpet feeling. Or there are meet and greet contests that happen during film promotions, so try and fix up something there.
As of now connecting fans with their favorite stars is something that we have just started. I will officially launch my website very soon but whatever response I’ve received from fans on Twitter, Facebook etc. is amazing and they have become very cooperative. Also, professionally I have this rapport with the media as they have seen me as this child-fan who has grown and managed things on her own. So they too are very supportive.
And the stars speaketh
Ranbir has always been very humble. Even today if we meet at some event he always enquires about my work. Arjun on the other hand is someone I look up to; he’s like a motivating factor in my life. I think stardom has not gone to his head and that is the sign of a good star. For 2 states, I had arranged a fan screening, booked a theatre and contacted all fans of Arjun. I had also requested Arjun to come and he actually came. That was truly a memorable moment.
Social media has given us immense accessibility to celebrities. But the demerit is comparison. If a star replies to one fan and misses out on another, that fan is sure to feel bad, even though it isn’t something the celebrity is doing on purpose. That leads to heartbreak, jealousy and even bad mouthing the celebrity. So there is a good side and a bad side.
A peek into the future
Being a fan girl is like second nature to me. It’s not like anyone has hired me to be a fan girl. So for me that is more like a lifestyle now. For instance, updating Arjun’s fan page is more like a routine; my day is incomplete without it. But I am looking at something on the lines of talent management where I can offer a complete package to the celebrity. So I can help them get projects, style them, do their PR and social media, it’s like a 360-degree solution under one brand.
Pearls of wisdom
Don’t be star struck, be a diehard fan.