In the last few years, undoubtedly Bollywood has taken itself to a different level. There is an insane craze for the Bollywood movies and this is the reason why we Indians are proud of the Bollywood industry. No one ever imagined it will touch these heights when it started nearly a hundred years ago. Yet, there is an issue that has crippled this industry over the past twenty years or so and has been a hot topic of debate since then. This issue is none other than Nepotism. If you look up to a dictionary to find the meaning of the word ‘Nepotism’, the dictionary often states it as the practice among those with power or influence of favoring acquaintances or friends, especially by giving them jobs.
Well, Nepotism in Bollywood is nothing new but for years this topic has not been given discussion. The present-day Bollywood industry is largely controlled by a handful of families that emerged out of three essential sets of people. These include the actors and directors who came from Punjab in the 1940s and 1950s, the writers who broke down in the 1980s and their progeny thereafter. Since then, Bollywood has remained no less than a mom-and-pop shop, depending heavily on personal friendships. The roots of these archaic practices of nepotism and affiliated biases run deep.
In May 1998, when Bollywood acquired the ‘industry’ status, there was a hope that things would change. But, unfortunately, the scenario still remains largely unaltered. The film aspirants have always been divided into two categories- young actors and directors from a filmy background and the ones who come to Mumbai from other cities. The first category has an edge over others as they get numerous chances while the latter has to succeed with their early projects to establish themselves in the industry else the doors slam hard on their faces. But, the good thing is that now at least the celebs and newbies have started becoming vocal about it rather than developing fear and getting suppressed.
Nepotism prevailed earlier as well but it came into limelight when actress Kangana Ranaut labeled filmmaker Karan Johar as a ‘flag bearer of nepotism’ in an interview. This happened after her interaction with Karan Johar in the acclaimed chat show ‘Koffee with Karan”. Moreover, she also stated that Karan Johar was snooty and intolerant towards outsiders in films. After this conversation, the issue of nepotism got a spark and is indeed the biggest topic of discussion in Bollywood since then. Many B-town celebrities and Bollywood specialists have given their views on this topic.
“It’s not that star kids are not talented, but the opportunities they get are far easier, projects far bigger and the budget for their films is huge,” said Huma Qureshi on nepotism. Mira Rajput, wife of Shahid Kapoor also stated that she hates nepotism. Moreover, Tapsee also tweeted, “Nepotism, Finally, learned the meaning of this word. Now, will learn to deal with it.” All these statements by famous celebrities vividly reveal they all have been a victim of nepotism at least once and all of them are against it.
While the self-established actors and actresses are totally against nepotism, star kids always find ways to defend themselves. Just after Kangana raised her voice, the Gully Boy actress, Alia Bhatt came with a statement “A star kid can get the first film due to nepotism. But to constantly get films just because you belong to the filmy family is not enough.” Not only Alia, Sonam Kapoor, daughter of superstar Anil Kapoor also stated “The top heroines today- Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone-are both women who aren’t from industry. And are you telling that Alia Bhatt is where she is because of her family and not because of her talent?”
Recently, this debate has been reignited after the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput. Many celebrities, the mainstream media and people have concluded that in some way or the other his death was connected to nepotism in Bollywood. His fans feel he was never given the respect he deserved and was treated with disdain. There have been demands for a CBI inquiry which has been granted by the Supreme court of India. This case has its roots in nepotism. Reportedly,The Kai Po Che actor was in a state of depression after six projects were continuously snatched from his hand and offered to star kids. Moreover, a comment he wrote on one of his Instagram posts read, “If you do not watch my films, they will kick me out of Bollywood. I have no Godfather; I have made all of you my God and my father. If you wish, please see it. I will be able to live in Bollywood.” This comment, after his suicide, is going viral and clearly demonstrated how badly nepotism has ruined his career and compelled him to commit suicide.
After the demise of the talented actor, Kangana Ranaut again raised her voice and is continuously receiving support from people across the world. . Recently, in an interview famous filmmaker, R. Balki stated, “Find me a better actor than Alia or Ranbir, and we will argue. It’s unfair on those few people who are probably some of the finest actors.” As soon as the statement reached the B-town, the audience and another filmmaker Shekhar Kapoor countered by tweeting, “I just saw kai Po Che again last night. Three young new actors at that time. And the stunning believable performance by each of them.”
Even the superstar Govinda admitted that nepotism exists in Bollywood and said that there are only four-five people who are running the industry. Moreover, he claimed that even some of his films were not properly released. He admits that for the outsiders, the struggle is real. During the initial years of Bollywood, whosoever was talented, got work but now things are totally different.
From all the above statements it is very clear, nepotism is a never-ending debate. Even in the eyes of studio heads, there is still nobody bigger than a star who is often seen as a failsafe for generating big business revenues. This practice adds another obstacle to the outsider’s race to achieve stardom and a successful career. Nepotism has been no longer confined to harmless ragging or collegiate groups. Moreover, the toxic level this ‘othering’ has reached is particularly alarming and hence it needs to come to a conclusion now so that no young star loses his or her life due to it. Just like the star kids, outsiders should also be provided at least a chance to prove themselves. Also, the biggies of the industry should support and motivate them in their tough times instead of making conspiracies to ruin their career and throw them out of the industry. Recently, many people have also pledged not to watch a movie just because it is of a star kid and watch only of those actors or actresses who truly deserve it. Moreover, voices on platforms such as YouTube and Instagram are also weakening the forces of Nepotism.
The seeds of Nepotism sown in the early 90s has grown into a huge tree now and has spread its roots all over the industry. But, now the time has come to cut this tree along with its roots and build a healthy working environment for entertainers. No one exactly knows who started the nepotism in Bollywood but now we have to ensure that it ends with the demise of Sushant Singh Rajput.
Written By - Ishita Rai
(The views expressed are the authors own. Article has been modified for publication purposes)