The nepotism debate: Here’s what Bollywood celebs have to say about it

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It is believed that Bollywood is a tough turf to manoeuvre for rank outsiders and star kids have it relatively easy. Kangana Ranaut, who is known to speak her mind fearlessly, sparked off a major debate on favouritism in the industry.

During her appearance on Karan Johar’s popular chat show, she called the filmmaker “a flag-bearer of nepotism and movie mafia”. Karan promptly retaliated by saying that he has promoted many talents who are outsiders and that Kangana always plays the “victim card”. This led to a war of words and the two stars have been at loggerheads ever since. While it sparked off a debate on nepotism, our B-town stars stand divided on the issue. Here’s a look at what the leading actors of today had to say on the subject.
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Sushant Singh Rajput was a successful television actor who then graduated to films in 2013. Not one to boast of a Godfather in the industry, the ‘Raabta’ actor was asked for his take on nepotism in Bollywood. Stating that he has never borne the brunt of nepotism, he said, “I think nepotism can co-exist with the idea of encouraging new talent from outside of the film industry. I, being an outsider, got the opportunity and luxury of choices to choose the film that I wanted to do. So I have no complaints. But having said that, if new talents won’t get a chance, and only the practice of nepotism continues, then the industry will collapse in some time.”
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She may have been born into a film family and launched in Bollywood by Karan Johar, making her success seem a result of nepotism. However, one cannot question the actress’ talent – even her detractors agree that she is a powerhouse performer. Alia, on her part, thinks that nepotism can only take you so far, and it is one’s hard work and talent that pay off in the long run. She said, “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. I am aware people do struggle to make a mark in the industry, but it’s not right to blame nepotism. I didn’t plan my birth in the Bhatt family. I can’t change that and today, I am successful not just because my family is famous, but also because I have worked hard and you can’t take it away from me.”
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Anushka Sharma is one of those rank outsiders to have made it big in Bollywood with her sheer hard work and talent. She was launched by Aditya Chopra in the movie industry. When asked about the burning issue of nepotism, the ‘Phillauri’ actress stated that she had never faced it. Anushka said, “First of all, every actor has her own journey in Bollywood. Moreover, if you are good at your work, people will show interest to collaborate with you, irrespective of your background. Ranveer Singh, Parineeti Chopra and all of us were not from the film industry! So being an outsider, I never faced nepotism.”
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Launched by Karan Johar in Bollywood with ‘Student Of The Year’, Varun Dhawan is known to be one of the filmmaker’s favourite ‘students’. The star kid sided with KJo on the nepotism debate. When asked if nepotism exists in the industry, Varun said, “I don’t think so. I don’t want to talk much about it.” However, he also praised Kangana Ranaut for her forthrightness as he said, “I like Kangana, her style and more power to her.”
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Sonam Kapoor slyly dissed Kangana Ranaut’s claims of nepotism being rampant in Bollywood. When asked about the ‘Queen’ actress’ remarks, Sonam stated that Kangana keeps saying things like these all the time and that it is very entertaining. She also added that she was not much aware about the debate as she was travelling at the time.
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Vidya Balan is one actress who has carved a niche for herself on her own merit. However, like Anushka, the ‘Begum Jaan’ actress took a neutral stance on the debate when she said, “Kangana feels that way. To each his own. Everyone has different experiences. I am no one to comment but my experiences are different.”
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‘The Lunchbox’ actress was of the opinion that the nepotism debate was blown way out of proportion. Nimrat said, “When you talk about nepotism, it is in each and every profession. For example, a lawyer’s son will have an easy way of being a lawyer just by the virtue of having grown up in that environment… and having access to that environment. By the same logic, even an actor’s kid will have that advantage. But then it holds true for just one time as the final word is always with the audience.”
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The ‘Pink’ star decided to openly side with Karan Johar on the matter and took a dig at Kangana Ranaut as she said, “I’m a proud outsider, nobody forced me to come into the industry. I was aware of the nepotism that exists in the industry and even then, I decided to be a part of it. I don’t like playing the victim card.”
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The veteran actor was all praise for Kangana for raising awareness about this important issue. During the promotions of ‘Naam Shabana’, he said, “I’m very happy that because of Kangana, so many people have come to know and understand the meaning of nepotism. The roles I played and have been playing for twenty-three years, these are not roles that any star son or daughter would choose, so I never really faced any competition from them. It was always a topic which was discussed in a very hush-hush way, but I really thank Kangana that it is there in the public domain and for people to discuss and debate about it.”
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Swara is known to not mince her words when it comes to expressing her opinion on various matters. The ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ star agreed that Bollywood functions on relationships but she made it clear that she has never faced nepotism. “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. Since the whole nepotism debate is going on, I just want to say that Karan has been a revelation to me. He is an industry elite but has been a wonderful surprise,” she said.
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