If you look at Bollywood today, it is a little hard to shrug off claims that nepotism in the industry does not exist. With scions from well-known clans such as the Kapoors, the Khans, and the Bachchans who currently rule the industry with their high-budget films that are members of the ‘100-crore club’, it is a stretch of the imagination to think nepotism isn’t a big factor in an artist’s success in the industry. It is no surprise then that an ‘outsider’ like Richa Chadda in spite of her apparent talent, feels the going is tougher for her than, say, an Alia Bhatt or a Shraddha Kapoor.
But there are a few ‘star kids’ who disagree. They feel that no amount of industry connections can replace talent and hard work. Sonam Kapoor, in a recent candid interview, spoke up about how sometimes, there’s more than what meets the eye in a ‘star kid’s’ life. She spoke about those rare humbling moments in a life consisting of designer clothes and accessories, fancy cars and events, that make it all seem more like chaos rather than a dream.
“I believe in a higher power. I think we’ve all been assigned roles so we can contribute to society in the best of our capacities. Sometimes, when I’m sitting in my car I wonder, why is it that I’m in a fancy vehicle and the guy there has to beg for a living? If I’ve been fortunate enough to come from a prosperous family, I should even out the equation by giving back,” Sonam Kapoor said to Huffington Post.
The actress, who is also an established fashionista, forayed into cinema in 2008. Her father, well-known Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, was often dubbed as the key to her success in Bollywood. It’s no surprise that Sonam has had a fair share of jealous haters owing to her connections. “It took me a while to shake that off because I was surrounded by people who constantly made me feel like I was some entitled brat. I refused to take anything from my father (Anil Kapoor) because of that and he used to get frustrated. There were days when he’d say, ‘What’s the point of me having done so much in the industry when you want to do everything on your own?’ Now, I’ve made peace with it as I feel I’ve been born into a family, given this talent to make a difference and I’m not going to let some outsider guilt-trip me into believing that I’m just a girl born with a silver-spoon who had it easy in life. That’s very unkind and an unfair judgment,” she admitted.
Drawing examples from her own experience in the industry, Sonam pointed at what Alia Bhatt said in a similar interview last month, the crux of which was that nepotism is more of an obstacle than a free-pass. “It’s a business and nobody will invest crores in the film’s production, and another few in marketing only because you’re related to someone… and completely talentless. It just doesn’t add up. You audition. I auditioned for Saawariya along with Shivani Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor and Deepika Padukone. There’s a process and we are all equal when we go through it. I even auditioned for Delhi 6 and projects for Yash Raj Films. I didn’t just wake up one day to have all these films in my roster!” she reiterated Bhatt’s thoughts.
Alia Bhatt, who made her debut with Karan Johar’s Student Of The Year, has established herself in the industry as one of the most sincere actresses whose work reflects talent; she was showered with praise for her performances in Highway and Udta Punjab. Alia admitted that while connections in the industry are a plus, hard work supersedes everything.
“I think those who talk about nepotism are a really, really jealous lot. If you aren’t talented, you can’t survive. Yes, the process to get there is simpler but once the film is out there, you are either ‘in’ or ‘out.’ It doesn’t matter who’s making the film for you. Without taking names, I’d like to say that there have been enough sons and daughters of lineage who have come and gone without achieving much success. What about that? Eventually, people come to see you as an actor and directors work with you because of what you deliver. Why constantly bring the nepotism argument?” she asked.
So far, with the industry becoming more heterogeneous, we see some performances by every other ‘outsider’ as a response to every other Jacky Bhagnani or Riteish Deshmukh produced by the industry. This just might prove right Sonam’s insistence that “nepotism exists everywhere but that doesn’t make the journey any easier”.