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22 Jul 2017

Bollywood's nepotism debate: What exactly is the reality?

And the good old nepotism debate is back!

You must have been hearing about Bollywood's hot topic of debate right now: nepotism. So Karan Johar, Varun Dhawan and Saif Ali Khan made jokes on Kangana Ranaut's stand that nepotism exists in Bollywood.

After a massive controversy, Johar apologized. Dhawan apologized. Then Khan apologized in an open letter. And now the 'Queen' has finally responded.

But does she really make much sense?

In context

And the good old nepotism debate is back!
Here is what Saif said in his open letter

Saif Ali Khan

Here is what Saif said in his open letter

Yesterday, Saif penned an open letter in response. He blamed the media for their reaction, calling it the "real flag-bearer of nepotism" which constantly focuses on star kids.

He claimed genes play a major role in the movie industry. He said nepotism is least in movies and "rampant in politics and business".

He also mentioned three systems at work: aristocracy, meritocracy and democracy.

Kangana Ranaut

And here's how Kangana responded

Kangana started by calling Saif's opinion "disturbing". She listed grit, hardwork, diligence, eagerness, and "human spirit" as factors behind talent apart from "a sanitized upbringing".

She insisted that businesses not run by "value systems" bring only superficial profits.

She added she didn't understand the comparison Saif made between actors and hybrid racehorses. "If your point (about genetics) was true, I would be a farmer."

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Take a moment and think. Does nepotism exist in movies?


Take a moment and think. Does nepotism exist in movies?

There's no doubt about it. When Alia Bhatt, Parineeti Chopra, Varun Dhawan, Arjun Kapoor and other star kids get starry debuts and grand launches, the inner mechanisms at play are not coincidence, and definitely more focused on their surname rather than their talent.

YRF's posters introducing Aadar Jain, Raj Kapoor's grandson, set social media on fire for "harping on" his lineage.


But does lineage give them a significant edge?

Entry is surely easier for star kids than for those with no contacts. They have been exposed to the environment for years and are better groomed than newbies.

But think of Tiger Shroff, Sonakshi Sinha, Shraddha Kapoor and Sooraj Pancholi: all these celeb kids were few-film wonders.

Even Abhishek Bachchan, son of a legend, couldn't use his lineage to keep his fledgling career afloat.

On the other hand, the "non-star-kid" legends

Then there are the others who entered the industry like a boss with no relatives inside and then created major brands: Shah Rukh Khan, for one. There's Akshay Kumar, Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi, Jackie Shroff… The list goes on.

Nepotism is not just in the movie industry


Nepotism is not just in the movie industry

The movie industry's harsh truth is a reality everywhere: nepotism is in politics, business, even in individual professions.

Think Congress. Think RJD. Think the Ambanis. Think of the numerous incidents when common people in official positions flout rules to get their relatives a job.

And in many cases, nepotism has worked well. Kids do know the inner workings of the business better.


Nepotism is not always bad, subject to terms and conditions

Maybe Karan, Saif and Varun could have made a better joke; the situation and platform (Kangana was absent at IIFA) is questionable.

But it's irrational to expect people to not favor their loved ones.

As long as those favors don't deprive deserving candidates, it shouldn't be a huge problem.

As Kangana says, nepotism is "merely a weakness of the human nature", not a crime.

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