It was nearly a month back that the bold and beautiful actress of Bollywood, Kangana Ranaut opened the can of worms by publicly accusing Karan Johar as the propagator of nepotism. Since then the Bollywood has nearly split into two groups like Red Sea, between the artists who have gone to openly assent to the said statement, the ones who deny it calling it figment of envious mind.
Bollywood and nepotism has more or less gone hand in hand as the existence of the partially and favoritism had existed right from its days of yore. Whether it was the (in)famous attempts of Mangeshkar sisters to rule the Bollywood’s musical rooster by kicking out any and every competitions and talents like Geeta Bali or Kapoors’ attempts to run a closed business by more or less including only their kin. Most of the newcomers (lovingly called outsiders) who did not have a famous father or mother or uncle or aunt within the Bollywood were ensured the experience of the wild where they survived after a long gruel fight against the favoritism. And ironically, if the said ‘outsiders did survive this wild, they promoted the same nepotism against which they had to spend best of their days fighting. That famous story where Kapoors literally hated the guts of tall and lanky Amitabh Bachchan who made big in spite all the attempts by Kapoors; and later on same Bachchan tried to kick another actor out a movie because he wanted his son for the same role, is the favorite tea time story of many artists.
But while nepotism is rampantly prevalent in the Bollywood, not many discussed it and still very few articulated anything about it while none of them openly said the “N” word fearing the repercussion- that is until recently. It was like that ugly open secret of the family, about which everybody knew, but none spoke about it, waiting for others to broach the subject. It was like a ticking bomb waiting to be just touched. As soon as an artist daringly and openly used said about it, the avalanche has broken loose.
Interestingly, it was the two ladies who could be credited with daringly speaking about it. The first one to speak about the Bollywood’s ugly Pandora’s Box was perhaps Priyanka Chopra. And it couldn’t have been a more befitting person as she was herself the victim of nepotism in its worst of forms. After her possible affair with one of the senior actor became public, the actor’s wife literally witch hunted her out of Bollywood. The wrath of the actor’s wife was so profound that she made sure with her influence that Priyanka kicked out from nearly all the big projects, not invited to any important party or even to anyone’s home. PC was nearly rendered jobless, defamed and a time came that she almost had to bid good bye to her acting all because the wife hated the outsider’s audacity to apologize. The role in Quantico proved to her timely salvation, and now the people who shunned her as outsider ‘welcome with a warm heart’ and queue up to take picture with her.
It was her bitter experiences with the nepotism that Priyanka had made sure to stress in most of her interviews that she did not have any ‘big daddy’ to ensure the job or fame for her. She mad made it clear that whatever she has achieved it today is the sole result of her own hard work. Though she never outright referred to the ugly N word, she had left enough bread crumbs for anyone with half the brain to connect the dots. Yet, the kudos guest to Kangana to boldly accuse Johar as one of the propagators of nepotism publicly, that too in his own show, even as Saif balked in the sidelines.
As Kangana gracefully gave jolt to Johar many along with her might have reminiscence along her the days of gritty struggle without their ‘big daddy’s’ coat tails to ride. Since then many have come forward to support the claims of Ranaut as they spilled their beans of their misery at being replaced by a starlet. The talented actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rajkumar Rao etc. had been either sidelined for far too long or given lesser roles merely because they lacked a good voice to speak for them.
In today’s scenario nepotism in Bollywood especially seems to run amok as the starlets are launched left and right by the directors and producers. The actors like Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Sonam Kapoor etc. seem to rule the rooster even as their parents invested time (influence) and perhaps money for them. While some of the starlets have talents, many of them bag the roles merely owing to their ‘names and legacy’ in spite of their poor performance while many good talents are totally ignored. If many of them have been launched, many more of them are waiting behind the curtains to be launched. The daughter of Sridevi, son of Shah Rukh Khan, sister of PC and Katrina etc. are just the tip of the iceberg. Recently the news of the daughter of a known actress replacing a talented ‘outsider’ made rounds till the report was rubbished by an actor (who ironically was the son of famous actor), calling it a report based on prejudice.
‘Prejudice’, ‘illusion’, ‘misconception’ etc. are mostly the words that are used to describe any and every news related to nepotism in Indian film industry. And typically these words are more or less used by the starlets whose job is secured by their ‘legacy’ (i.e., by their famous parents). The actors rubbishing the favoritism are the ones who are more or less surviving in the cinema jungle after managing to enter the good books of the ‘those elite and powerful’ who manipulate the filmi politics. The terse reply of Varun Dhawan: “I don’t think so. I don’t want to talk much about it”; Or Alia Bhatt’s “We are talking too much about it. We need to stop,” or Johar’s famous rant: “I’m done with Kangana playing the woman and victim card” sounds as hypocritical as they come.
Nepotism is here to stay in Bollywood for ling years to come, at least until the pubic realizes the talents they are losing out to the favored starlets with a coat tail to hang on to. So, for now, the only hope is that Bollywood at least won’t lose those bold stars who daringly speak out against them in the public.