A long time back I had heard the word “nepotism” being thrown around a lot in Bollywood section of newspapers, specifically surrounding Kangana Ranaut and Karan Johar. The whole debacle on Koffee with Karan was viewed differently by everyone, some defending it, others supporting it, and the rest (including me) not really caring about the things that didn’t directly or indirectly affect our lives. Despite the issue being dragged on and on at various events, life carried on and so did we. Being able to forget most of it, the recent turn of event has actually salted old wound that is “nepotism talk”.
The recent events at IIFA 2017 a.k.a International Indian Film Academy (what’s “International” about these awards though, apart from the location?) found Karan Johar, Saif Ali Khan and Varun Dhawan in the spotlight for yelling “Nepotism Rocks!” especially when Kangana Ranaut wasn’t present at the event. While Kangana had rattled the previlege cage of Bollywood offsprings, leaving them to defend their title against the very public accusations made by her on the talk show Koffee With Karan, Karan Johar was still not able to find the guts to “Joke” about this issue in her presence.
In conclusion, the joke wasn’t taken well by most of the audience and various social media platforms, who took jabs at the trio for joking about a touchy subject, especially when they themselves are the result of nepotism and wouldn’t be where they are now without the support of their established family status. I agree that we all should take things lightly and try and find the humor in the situation rather than taking it all seriously, but some things shouldn’t be joked about, at least not until they have been dealt with properly.
Hollywood has a pretty transparent system of selecting actors for a film, be it big names or newcomers. Their auditions are conducted fairly, compared and selected depending on talents and acting skills. I’ve heard about Tom Cruise, Will Smith, and Ben Affleck etc being denied roles because they didn’t seem fit for a certain character or big names playing supporting roles because that’s what they were found suitable for. Bollywood, however, usually depends more on connections to sons/ daughters of established actors/directors over newcomers and rookies. All of it seems fair from a business point of view where businessmen would not want to take risks with their money over new faces, but saying that you chose an actor’s son/daughter because of their hard work and talent, especially when they clearly aren’t as talented as other outside industry based actors, that’s where you go wrong. It’s agreeable that nepotism exists in our daily lives, but Bollywood is public about it and is tagging the wrong reasons for its practice.
Most of the newcomers we have seen in the past few years bear surnames of already established families in the industry. Some names include Alia Bhatt, Tiger Shroff, Varun Dhavan, Athiya Shetty, Sonam Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Shraddha Kapoor and Harshvardhan Kapoor. While some of these actors like Alia Bhatt, Shraddha Kapoor, and Ranbir Kapoor have actually proved their acting skills and true talent, not all are naturally good actors just because they have a set of DNA from two famous parents. As most actors’ claim that their connections help them get in touch with filmmakers but sustaining their career depends on their talents and hard work, I would like to compare the ratio of newcomers to celebrity children. These numbers clearly show weak ratios and end the debate with a clear conclusion that nepotism and privilege have helped these kids start their career with well knows directors, a chance which might actually be a golden ticket for outsiders who actually deserve the chance to be in the spotlight.
Deserving candidates like Sushant Singh Rajput, Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh, Shah Rukh Khan, Rajkummar Rao, Deepika Padukone, Kangana Ranaut, Priyanka Chopra, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Taapsee Pannu, Randeep Hooda, Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte and many others have shown more commitment to their work, have developed their talent and skills, suiting to both independent, commercial and offbeat roles. Their acting skill set can be considered better than most newcomers.
Recently Nawazuddin Siddiqui tweeted about not being paired with certain actors due to his looks. What really matters is his acting skills. Looks are important for commercial purpose; however, Siddiqui sir has better skills than Sonam Kapoor, Athiya Shetty, Varun Dhawan, Tiger Shroff, and the few of Kapoors and Deols combined. Recent release “Mom” had everyone in awe of Nawazuddin Siddiqui, stealing the limelight from Sridevi.
It’s no use bashing everyone with connections as some are truly talented gems who have successfully sustained their career as actors, but time will tell if the rest can actually work it solely on their talent, provided they have any.
While most people claim that Kangana Ranaut has played victim long enough, criticized writers, taken credit for scripts and taken over films, those are the comments about how she is as a person, which is a debate up for another day. However, as an actor, she has outshone most newcomers with her talent and has been brutally honest about her stance on Bollywood, something that has been evident for a long time. Ranbir Kapoor, being very diplomatic, has often replied that he agrees that nepotism exists and played its part as a platform to perform as an actor and maybe get a few roles, thanks to his ancestors. He even wants to work hard to be able to provide his children a platform so they can get the best of everything in the future.
The IIFA trio who had joked “Nepotism Rocks” had later apologized to the public for joking about the sensitive issue and have claimed to have been carried away in the moment without assessing the situation. However, the damage has been done and it’s an irreversible process. Maybe soon Bollywood will learn from its mistake and be fairer to the outsiders.