In 2017, while being a guest at the Koffee with Karan show hosted by Bollywood biggie Karan Johar, actress Kangana Ranaut kick-started a debate on nepotism after she accused him of being its ‘flag bearer’.
After this, several celebrities faced questions from the media that debated and dissected this issue. Seemingly, no big change is expected from the industry that cashes in on ‘good looks’ and ‘names’ over talents.
Johar himself used his fame and platforms to diss Kangana. One of the notable incidents being on IIFA awards where he, Varun Dhawan and Saif Ali Khan together said the infamous phrase ‘nepotism rocks’. They faced the heat from the audience who criticized them for attacking Kangana and Saif added insult to the injury with his ‘Eugenics’ argument.
Kangana, a total ‘outsider’ in the industry, faced one obstacle after the other to have her film debut. She slept on pavements, faced rejections and abuse while making her way.
Producer Aditya Chopra, at the time, said that she won't last in the industry, which he stood corrected after the success of her film ‘Queen’.
Actor Shah Rukh Khan was one man army when he entered Bollywood. He had no godfathers or relatives from the industry. He made it during the time the likes of Kapoors and Khannas were being promoted by their influential parents and relatives.
Unfortunately, Shah Rukh Khan also has entered the list of ‘flagbearers’ when his daughter Suhana Khan got the launch pad as the cover person for Vogue magazine, with no work to back her.
Big budget films are made by parents for their kids. Harry Baweja in 2008, made the big budget film 'love story 2050' for his son Harman Baweja. David Dhawan made Judwaa 2 for his son Varun Dhawan.
Rakesh Roshan made ‘Krrish’ series for his son Hrithik Roshan. Roshan launched Hrithik in his film ‘Kaho Na Pyaar Hai’. Kangana sarcastically called this out in an interview with Barkha Dutt saying, 'Hrithik had his father's money. I have to make my money'.
The fact is that many of the industry’s veterans are not hesitant to come public with their nepotistic attitude. Karan Johar himself confessed in an interview that since he favoured star kids, he is ‘kind of’ nepotistic. He is known for launching several star kids in his films.
Recently he launched Janhvi Kapoor, daughter of Sridevi and Boney Kapoor, and Ishaan Khattar, brother of Shahid Kapoor, in his film 'Dhadak' which is a ‘refined’ Bollywood version of Marathi blockbuster ‘Sairat’.
He made ‘Student of the year’ with Alia Bhatt, daughter of Mahesh Bhatt, and Varun Dhawan. Actor Saif Ali Khan’s daughter Sara Ali Khan had the backup of Karan Johar and other biggies to get herself launched in Bollywood. Co-incidentally, Saif Ali Khan himself is a star kid born to 1970s heartthrob Sharmila Tagore.
Saif Ali Khan had his mother's talents and he made it big in Bollywood with notable performances in films like ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’, ‘Hum Tum’, and ‘Parineeta’.
Alia Bhatt deserves her place in mainstream Bollywood due to her immense talent as an actress. Proof of the pudding are films such as ‘Dear Zindagi’, ‘Highway’, ‘Udta Punjab’ and ‘Raazi’ to her name.
However, several others failed to make their mark in the industry.
Harman Baweja for example, could not live up to the expectations. Adhyayan Suman, son of actor Shekhar Suman, was not able to be at par with his other successful colleagues. Shekhar Suman, however, continues to make films for his son.
Actresses Sonakshi Sinha, daughter of actor Shatrughan Sinha, has received many opportunities including vehement support of actor Salman Khan but she could not be at par with successful others. She had women-centric films to her credit like ‘Akira’, ‘Noor’ and ‘Happy phir bhaag jayegi’ to prove.
Shraddha Kapoor, daughter of veteran actor Shakti Kapoor, is still receiving good projects irrespective of several back-to-back flops, latest being a biopic on shuttler Saina Nehwal.
Actor Ranbir Kapoor, despite many unsuccessful films, still gets good roles and fat paychecks. If reports can be trusted, he is paid twice the salary of Deepika Padukone, one of the most successful actresses who was launched alongside Ranbir. This also points to the question of the massive gender wage gap exists in the industry.
Actor Abhishek Bachchan did a dozen flop movies before delivering the hit film ‘Dhoom’.
Though Actress Sonam Kapoor has given reasonable performances in films like ‘Neerja’ and ‘Padman’ is still not steadfast as per critics.
Outsiders like Ayushmann Khurrana, Vicky Kaushal, and Radhika Apte were not getting the adequate media attention that they deserve until recently. Apte also spoke about facing issues like casting couches which were vehemently denied and sometimes insulted by the industry.
2018 witnessed the success of films starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkumar Rao, Vicky Kaushal, Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Similarly, women-centric films starring Taapsee Pannu, Alia Bhatt, Tabu, Rani Mukherji and Netflix films starring Radhika Apte became successful.
The viewer will be enriched and entertained when content-rich films are presented by a good crew. ‘Opportunity for talent’ should be the mantra for the moviemakers to see that really talented artist are recognized.