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Lights, Camera, “Nepospasm”!

A Silver- Screen Epidemic

An eight-lettered word that has been starkly juxtaposed into a synonym of the Indian entertainment industry, ‘nepotism’ in Bollywood has its origins channelized and moulded into unexplored territory. Herewith speculating some exemplars of nepotism, and neoteric approaches to this debate- flarer, is Perspectoverse’s Raeeka Sengupta.


Bollywood, or ‘Bombay’s Hollywood’, derived from the intelligible notion of nepotism originated through a restrictive law, has successfully failed to establish an untainted reputation for its unrivalled entertainment caliber. Needless of regurgitation, the “flavour of India” has struck the radars as the most promising contrivance of showbiz, courtesying the magnitude of its feature-films, booted by the sheer manpower of 248,600 employees as of 2017 (Statista).

With seething tides of public dissent threatened to drown the industry due to its “trend’ of nepotism as well as misogyny, the media has revealed how Bollywood’s reign-bearers have been rendered into businessmen, instead of industrialists tackling socio-cultural facets that have been negated to redundancy- talent and tenacity.

Nonetheless, guardians of this machination have been detected to gainsay aspects devoid of proof - "We have introduced 21 debut directors. Out of which, I can say, 16-17 are not nepotistic young filmmakers. They are not from the fraternity or the industry. They are completely from outside." (Karan Johar – Indian film producer, screenwriter, costume designer, actor and television personality)

Inextricable demands for replies may arise; ‘Dharma’ never lay in the swaying of the world’s most powerful entertainment industry into the educational teachings of rightism, did it?

Subsequently, the masses will be mildly pacified to know that Karan Johan is left-handed.

Varun Dhawan (Indian actor) stated how ‘outsiders' have the potential to make it big in the industry by going along the principles of “hard work, willpower and sincerity”. Elucidating on his father David Dhawan’s (Indian Film-Director) trail in the industry, Varun Dhawan explained how his father had been a gold-medalist at the FTII (Film and Television Institute of India), had edited for Doordarshan (an Indian public service broadcasting channel), and had directed 50 films. He garnered acclaim post directing his first Bollywood film in 1984. Nonetheless, that particular year was within a period devoid of such rampant nepotism in Bollywood, as the kind we as the netizens of today are highly acquainted with.

While it would be digressive to state that all striving individuals take their aspired statuses in Bollywood, the percentile of ‘outsiders’ in Bollywood is noteworthy. 95% of the employees and artists who are infiltrating into the mainstream are ‘outsiders’, yet the 5% who are not displaceable, dominate the industry. Success rates vary, yet the niche of opportunity availed of by the ‘close- knit’ realm in this industry, range between 90% to 97%, while the prior community in Bollywood bears the brunt of having to tackle 47% more of uncharted risk.

In a country teeming with 1.38 billion beams of potential and globally noteworthy diversity, such a position of undeniable and almost unchallenged power of an industry is a sheer advantage harnessed by the ‘flag- bearers of nepotism’ - communism did bear its putrid fruits.

Sanjana Sanghi, who made her indelible impression by co-starring beside late Sushant Singh Rajput in the cinematographic megahit and puller of heartstrings, ‘Dil Bechara’ (Rajput’s last production), circulated her recent approach to the quandary at hand. Revealing how nepotism was undeniably a queen-pawn in Bollywood, she mentioned, “I don’t consider nepotism a topic of debate really, because I think it’s a given. I have dealt with it in school and college. People deal with it in the companies they work at. I have too much empathy for their challenges too.”

Mingling the subject of discussion with the imperativeness of moving on, Sanghi also elaborated on how nepotism is merely a “circumstance” in the path of a truly oriented artist, she mentions how one might as we yearn of “looking for a solution” to the problem. Unveiling the foreboding reality into the forefront, she disseminated how there isn’t a solution, and how her parents were expectedly anxious about her path in Bollywood, which resulted in her “moving on away”, causing her denouement in showbiz.

She elaborated and explained how she would hypothetically “have to give 500 auditions to bag the one big thing — and that may take 6 years — I am nobody to say that when they get what they do get, it’s any easier. The pressures are different. I’m not at loggerheads with this situation at all. I am all about doing what I know I want to do.” Although varying in its shades of prevalence, misogyny has also remained an irreconcilable factor alongside nepotism.

Reacclimating one’s speculation to the veiled abetting is imperative. Anupam Kher (Indian actor) has been appointed as the new Chairman of the FTII. While the conclusion of Gajendra Chauhan’s officeholding in March 2015 brought about relief across the institute, the current anointment reveals how the trend with the current establishment has become the short-listing criteria for heads of universities and institutions during rather than the person’s own capabilities and credentials. Time enough for this caprice to be probed.

Robin Joy, President of the FTII’s Students’ Body, and Rohit Kumar, General Secretary of the FTII’s Students’ Body, unanimously delegated a letter to Kher. Interceptions of the same are traceable, and the label of the “Darker Side of Showbiz” as a myth, has been blasted to smithereens.

“Limitations have been brought into exercise norms as part of the new syllabus like, the norms brought in place for dialogue exercise in third semester. These limitations are logistically not feasible, like the three-day-eight-hour shift has been reduced to a two-day-twelve-hour shift which would be exhausting and inhuman to force the lightmen, carpenters, painters and make- up artists and actors to work at such a stretch. Also, this being the first coordinated exercise in a studio, students should be given enough time as primarily the students’ learning aspect should be prioritised rather than looking for finishing off the exercise in a haste. When we, the students, questioned this new norm change, we were told that the norms would remain the same and when it was decided that the students would boycott the exercise five students were suspended without any show of cause or notice.”

The aforementioned case may be tantamount to more than just an administrative discrepancy. Are the policies in the tutelage of India’s high- cachet institute of cinematography, manipulated by the ‘upper tiers’ of the industry in a manner to instil premonitions into aspirers for talent to give in and make way for incessant nepotism?

The solution which can be effective, is the response and actions of us masses against such ‘unethical ethics’. As Subhash Gai, a now 75-year-old veteran actor declared, “Bollywood has been under the scanner in recent times…(nevertheless)…The Hindi film industry represents everything that is best about India. It tells us stories of our history, heritage, culture, and mythologies. It teaches us about love and family, kindness, and courage. It represents the best part of us, the part we all strive to emulate. The public knows this and knows that we always try to do what is best for them and for our country.”

With an average of eight to nine ‘star-kids’ assailing the headlines of showbiz every year with the key aspect of talent being relentlessly negated, the very foundations of ‘the flavour of India’ are essentially vulnerable to hypocrisy.

Just how much sooner will Bollywood wait, before all its stars lose their shine?

Written by Raeeka Sengupta

Illustrated by Anushka Doshi








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