Nepotism in bollywood – the truth and the speculations.

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“Nepotism in places of power, like Adolf Hitler, is a killer”

Nepotism or favouritism is the lowest and least imaginative form of corruption. In simple parlance, it refers to the unfair use of power in favour of relatives or friends especially by giving them jobs. This practise been prevalent since the beginning of time and is omnipresent in every field of life even today, be it film, business, sports or politics.

Nepotism in Bollywood can be dated back to 1950s, when Raj Kapoor, the pioneer founder of Indian Cinema, introduced his children into the same line of work. Ever since, the Kapoor’s have been one of the most influential clans for almost 5 generations in the 92-year-old film industry. Others include the Khans, Bachchan’s, Chopra’s, Pataudi’s, Johar’s etc.

It is no lie that nepotistic culture in the film industry has hindered the professional growth of innumerable talented individuals who had dreamt of making a name for themselves. In opposition to this, some may say that a director or producer has every right to choose whom they work with. However, the problem arises when cartels are formed to steal fair opportunities from the meritorious. It is an open secret that actors with pure talent are side-lined as relatives and favourites are given more priority. Although there is no guarantee that all star-kids are talented, most of them are offered more opportunities, bigger projects, high budget films on a silver platter.

Recently, when actress Kangana Ranaut tagged the Indian film-maker Karan Johar as the “flagbearer of nepotism” on his show, it sparked a nation-wide controversy. Ranaut also pointed out that Johar was intolerant towards outsiders in the “movie mafia”. Ever since, the debate on talent (without a Godfather) versus lineage (products of nepotism) has been raging.

However, like every coin, there is another side of nepotism. Nepotism can sometimes backfire and nothing can explain this better than the case of Abhishek Bachchan. Being the son of Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, Abhishek, who is a fairly good actor, is constantly trolled for not meeting the unfairly high expectations of the audience.

While the paparazzi and tabloids are busy focusing on Superstars’ children who have not (yet) set foot in the industry, they fail to capture the struggles and accomplishments of self-made stars. But some say that media houses cannot be blamed as they are delivering what is widely demanded by the audience. Most of the Indian audience have the least cognizance for realistic and top-notch content. They would rather invest their money and time into movies with a clichéd story line over movies which have newer and better scripts because they are enacted by artists without a branded last name. Hence, the audience are to be equally blamed.

While some actors of the industry have owned up to being the ‘products of nepotism’, others say that belonging to a filmy background does not necessarily guarantee success. Some actors who made an entry riding on family names made a quick exit. Others like Ranbir Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Kareena Kapoor, Kajol, Hritik Roshan to carve a niche for themselves and become the “good” outcomes of nepotism.

On the other hand, while there is intense competition and politics in the industry, some “outsiders” have established themselves without a Godfather and achieved tremendous success. Some of the prominent figures are Akshay Kumar, Kangana Ranaut, Madhuri Dixit, Vidya Balan, Sushant Singh Rajput, Pankaj Tripathi, Ayushmann Khurana, Manoj Bajpayee etc. Others like Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai, Irrfan Khan became A-list Hollywood stars and global icons with their talent and passion.

To conclude, it is easy to blame nepotism but there are many actors who came through nepotism but couldn't sustain themselves. Some came without nepotism but still couldn't sustain. Some had talent but still couldn't sustain. Some are maintaining well even without talent. The truth is that more than just talent and connections, actors also need luck.

-Mahitha B

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