All we needed was Koffee with Karan to spice things up in Bollywood. Ever since Kangana Ranaut accused Karan Johar of being the ‘ruling king of nepotism’, the topic has been brewed many a times by Bollywood celebs. While some laughed off the remark, some beg to differ. As they say, Bollywood is a mixed bag of emotions!
The firing controversy : Nepotism
Kangana, who appeared alongside Saif on the show accused Karan of being the ‘snooty director who would never give her work’ and ‘the promoter of nepotism’. While both celebs laughed off the remarks during the show, it was pretty evident that Karan was pissed off with the actress when he said, “I am done with Kangana playing the victim card” and “She can’t be right every time.”
Voicing her stance on the statement, the Phillauri actress said : "The production house which launched me, I can't talk like that about them because they gave an outsider like me a chance.” She further said, "They did have an option to take any industry kid at that time but Aditya Chopra put faith in me. I can talk about my experience and I've never faced nepotism in any way. Maybe it happens but I can never say this about Aditya. He has launched all the outsiders. Me, Ranveer Singh, Parineeti Chopra. Except for Arjun (Kapoor), all the Yash Raj talent are outsiders."
Swara, who herself is an outsider in the industry, however vehemently denied any ‘nepotistic’ experience. “Bollywood as an industry is based on relationships, it has always been star-driven and it has an element of feudalism. So, it would be difficult for an outsider but my experience of Bollywood is not nepotistic at all. I think people, who have been most warm and nice are people like Karan Johar, Sonam Kapoor and even Aditya Chopra. He has always been very responsive and helpful.”
Speaking on the controversy, Aamir had a rather interesting take on it. He said, "It's normal human nature to try and help people you love and care for. It doesn't have to be someone from your family. So it's a very natural emotion. In my work, I strive to not allow that feeling to interfere. I feel that it's my responsibility as a creative person towards the audience and give them the most importance. I try to not bring in any emotions of that sort in my work."
Alia, who was the ‘indirect’ victim of Kangana’s nepotism remark had her reply ready to the statement. "I think a star kid can get that first film due to nepotism. But to constantly get films just because you belong to a filmi family is not possible. Eventually, people come to see you as an actor and not because your family is famous, and you can't fool them."
Swara’s good industry friend and a star kid herself, Sonam belittled the entire statement.
“I made a decision when I was very young after my second or first Koffee With Karan - it was that I would not do mudslinging when other actors and actresses are concerned because I would not do it for TRP's, I would not do it for a channel and I felt if I have to give an opinion or be opinionated, it would have to be for something that is relevant and I don't think dragging someone down or criticizing someone or having this public spat - I find it very distasteful. You can set examples without washing your dirty linen in public."
While the actress might have found stable ground in Bollywood, she doesn’t deny the ‘Godfather’ element in Bollywood. “The fact is, yes there is nepotism. One will be lying if one said there is no nepotism. There definitely is. But it is there in every walk of life. When I say that, I don’t want to take away anything from a lot of my friends who are also from the industry,” Huma says in an interview. “They are very hardworking and passionate people. You have to give credit for the hard work and talent but being from here (industry) makes it easier.”
Masaan v/s Bajrangi Bhaijaan
While the debate on nepotism ruling the industry might be an ongoing one, there’s no refuting that star power has its own effect on the cinema halls. Indie films and small budget films often get sideline by big budget star shows. The most recent one would be between Masaan and Bajrangi Bhaijaan. While Masaan, which was a critical success and a hit in International film markets failed to find audiences when it faced a close competition from Bajrangi Bhaijaan, starring Salman Khan.
Star kids v/s Regular debutantes
Often, star kids have it a little easy than regular debutantes. While we agree with Alia’s stance that one needs to constantly work on skills to be noticed but being a star kid has perks. Celeb kids get noticed, are better equipped. However, as many directors say, Bollywood celebs also learn from the family ‘experience’ and are better equipped to handle failures.
While stars might be out denying the entire debate or existence of it, there’s no telling that Bollywood doesn’t rely on its glorious star presence. More than often, star kids end up getting a better preference than regular debutantes, courtesy their ‘lineage and legacy’. Be it Athiya Shetty, Varun Dhawan or Suraj Pancholi, Bollywood is still somewhat ruled by star power, which makes entry difficult for outsiders.
Changing winds in Bollywood
Whatever the ruling stars might have to say, Bollywood too is undergoing major changes, though not prominent enough. Directors are signing ‘credible’ actors and production houses are slowly trusting them. Sanya Malhotra and Fatima Sana Sheikh were both debutantes when they acted in such strong roles in Aamir Khan starrer Dangal. While it may take a long time for the trends to completely change, we do hope there’s an equal place for all!