YouTube and Instagram are full of videos that promise a glimpse of the houses of celebrities like Manju Warrier, Vijay, Rajinikanth and more.
The fascination with celebrities is universal, and a specific subculture that has developed around her is the home visit of some of the biggest star actors. No real sightseeing though, like a guest coming to the house, but more sightseeing from the outside and hoping to spot the star during their day. Beverley Hills, Los Angeles, home to many of Hollywood’s most famous people, offers real tours with a guide, map, and a Rolls Royce to get you there. There are also two-hour van tours, as not everyone can afford to tour LA in a rented Rolls Royce.
But what about closer to home? YouTube and Instagram are full of videos that promise glimpses of celebrity homes. These are not filmed by anyone officially invited by a star to show off their sprawling residences. Bordering on voyeurism, the videos are made by enthusiastic fans who for the most part just come to the front door. There are dozens of such videos made by fans of Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu stars, some with thumbnails and titles that are much more exciting than what actually happens in the videos. Yet the fandom and curiosity around these is so great that the videos get thousands of views. From the videos, it appears that these houses are outside the realm of privacy – as if, like historic or holy sites, they are free from such notions.
There is a plethora of videos focused on the journey to the actor’s house, infused with elements of a travel vlog – Itinerary: Stargazing. Many times all there are are shots of a luxury car with blackened windows entering or leaving lavish mansions, walled behind massive automated gates.
Take this video from the home of Kollywood star Sivakarthikeyan for example. It unfolds like the documentation of an adventurous field trip. The person recording the video says at the start that today he is going to show us the footage of his meeting with Sivakarthikeyan. Spoiler: He doesn’t really meet him. There are, instead, a few minutes of an angry security guard asking them to leave: “No, Sivakarthikeyan sir is not at home.” After a while, a white car with its heavily tinted windows rolled up, entered the enclosure. Whether the actor turned hero is even in there, nobody knows. But even a meeting like this is considered the price of camping outside your house, which the videographer gives us a useful description of: “there are a lot of trees inside, you can’t really see the house itself because of them. – maintained garden, however. “
Two Manju Warrier fans attempt to enter his Thrissur home, where someone who works there pushes them out the door citing COVID-19. But no virus can stop them from showing anyone interested the exact banyan tree she was supposed to sit under as a child or her “favorite” temple – they claim – to visit. What if vloggers couldn’t meet Manju chechi? The video lasts 17 minutes where the vloggers describe the whole village around Manju’s house.
Our next video features none other than Mohanlal himself. Well, not him. His home in Kochi. You get the picture (dare I say). Entitled “Bicycle Travel Series”, the channel “Sherinz Vlog” indeed presents trips to the mountains and others. However, one of the episodes is 15 minutes long and shows the vlogger searching for the home of “Lalettan” on a bicycle, getting lost, stopping for crisp vadas, highlighting famous filming locations. The suspense thickens. It’s in the last three minutes or so, and a go pro pointing through the gates of Latettan’s entrance gate gives us a view of a pristine lawn, “his new car” and the car’s license plate. his caravan. A gardener comes and joins the vlog. He informs us that Lalettan is not at home, he is in Chennai.
Speaking of Chennai, Malayali vlogger Anoop M takes his viewers on a bilingual tour – where? The home of Rajini’s Poes Garden, of course. The house of the late Chief Minister Jayalaithaa, who was once the “Superstar” neighbor, is a bonus. For this, he sits passenger on a bike from Chennaite. After having toured the city, they arrive in front of Rajini’s house. The vlogger continues to comment on the roads of Chennai, effortlessly switching from Malayalam to Tamil. Yet neither of them have the chance to see the Thalaivar.
And if Mahesh Babu fans need a quick guide to direct them to his house, someone has provided one. The bgm is free, it is assumed.
Then there are the Instagram handles dedicated to various actors. One section of the messages are kinds of “pilgrimages” to the homes of the stars. A common theme in many videos outside of Vijay’s house is the unironic use of the same background track. The lyrics “oru murai dhaan, oru murai dhaan, unai paarthaal oru varamme” from his hit movie Kaththi (2014) play relentlessly as Thalapathy fans almost reverently gaze at his door or his car (it’s unclear if this is the now infamous Rolls Royce Ghost). The lines loosely translate to “seeing you even once would be a godsend”. In fact, the editing, mixing of songs and clips of various actors by these handfuls of fans would merit an article on their own.
It makes you feel both amused and exasperated wondering if titles, tags, and intros in YouTube videos are a good way to monetize fandoms without really showing fans what they’re promised. After all, at least several thousand rupees can be earned based on ad views and other intricacies of the YouTube world. Or is it a scam that people willingly participate in, knowing that the conundrum of a star’s personal living space is just out of reach?