The N Word
Hindi film industry since as far back as we can remember, has predominantly been a star driven industry, unlike Hollywood which is both star and actor driven. In Bollywood, if one accumulates enough star points, such as – connecting with the masses, having a certain sense of popularity, being adored and put on a pedestal by the audiences, then one is referred to as a star. Now, once one becomes a star, the films demand certain type of money, you get certain kinds of privileges in terms of the kinds of films being spoken about, the best directors want to work with you, the money one wants to charge and the money your film warrants, in terms of the budget. All of this includes in the periphery of being a star.
Since we are a star driven industry and not an actor driven industry, many people would feel that and outsider coming to the fore would face a lot of issues. But this is not only in the film industry, the same is relevant for all the various industries. The fact of the matter remains here is that, no matter what or in which industry one works in or is trying to penetrate through, the person needs to have a certain amount of talent. Sure, some luck does go a long way but talent sustains it overall.
Speaking about nepotism, a lot of actors in our industry have been a product of that, one could say and they have gone on to become huge stars in the industry; be it Amir Khan, Salman Khan, Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Hrithik Roshan, Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and I can just go on listing the names. All of these people have had some or the other connection with the industry at some point before coming into the industry. But all these names that I have mentioned have not gone on to become superstars/big stars because they are star kids or anything like that, but because of their sheer talent. Similarly there are other examples of actors related to someone from the film industry who have tried to get in the industry and make a name for themselves but they have failed and the reason is the genuine lack of talent. Having said that, outsiders like Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Shah Rukh Khan, Dilip Kumar, Akshay Kumar, Kartik Aaryan and many many others have made their own impact and have warranted the title of a Superstar to their name, and that is because of their talent and they managed to gain the love of audiences because of the same.
Another huge talking point since the past few weeks has been about group-ism in the industry, especially after the untimely demise of Sushant Singh Rajput. People from the industry have since come forward and raised questions which are not really in a good spirit. Instead of politicizing/using his death to forward an agenda, people should really be mourning a gem that the world has lost and celebrating his time in the industry.
Bollywood or film industry in general is considered to be one of the riskiest industries in the world. I say it is because; one writer comes up with an idea and then approaches the director or vice versa, but from that moment on the idea is put to the paper and a producer is then approached. Now here IF the producer likes the idea, he gets on board with it and then says he wants an ‘X’ star to feature in the film and is then approached. If the ‘X’ star then likes the idea and if he/she sees himself/herself in the film and then agrees to be a part of the film, and then the other actors are finalized. In this whole process at least 40-50 people hear the idea/script. And once the process is done, the producer then puts his money where the mouth is and the film goes on the floor on the hunch of those 40 people liking the idea and the story and assuming the rest of the mainstream or at least the majority of them will like the film. Once released, the film is up for criticism and appreciation from all the 1.3 billion people in the country. Producers, directors, writers, actors and everyone involved go out there and make a film based on the hunch of 40 odd people that film will be appreciated and will give good returns. Since it being such a risky business, it is a producer’s or a studio’s prerogative to make the film as they see fit and to take the film to whoever they feel will be correct for the role. If you don’t fit the zone, you don’t go out and make such a risky statement because the producers are literally putting their money where their mouth is.
Sometimes there are options for a said film but they still go with the actor they see fit and who probably has a better star pull and could attract the audiences; and that’s one of the most important thing to realize and this is exactly from where this whole debate of group-ism erupts. But we all need to realize that group-ism and nepotism are two different aspects altogether. There are multiple attributes and variables that are involved for producers to see who they want for their film but two of the most important things that we meed to realize here that matter are – talent of an actor and secondly it is a producer’s prerogative to see who he wants for his/her film.
The whole group-ism debate makes sense but only to a certain extent and not everything can be blamed on group-ism. People who have come out and spoken their mind about this whole debate have a point, but that point doesn’t tell the whole story and may not even seem right when looking at a bigger picture. The whole conversation started with the demise of Sushant Singh Rajput and instead of celebrating his body of work people are using it to push their agenda and narrative and it makes me sick to the core.
There is no unity in the industry at all. People don’t want other people to succeed and that’s just the way certain people function. We as an industry also need to learn a lot and figure out a way to have some accountability/fairness, which we don’t right now. Maybe if the conversation happened earlier, we wouldn’t have lost one of our bright shining star, Sushant Singh Rajput. But having said that, we don’t know what a person goes through. Everyone has their own issues they deal with and we cannot gauge that ever. But what we can do is to BE KIND to our fellow human beings first and then figure the way forward.