Competition by Indu Balakrishnan

Koffee with Karan has been one of my favourite TV shows. They come up with the craziest questions, funnest topics and a lot of gossip. It’s not an IQ boosting show by any standards but it is a lot of fun. And sometimes, that’s all we want at the end of a long week. 

One show stuck out for many reasons – right and wrong. Kangana Raunat came on the show. She called Karan Johar The Flag Bearer Of Nepotism. He could have edited the comment before telecasting it. But he didn’t. It raised a lot of doubts. And eyebrows. It brought a lot of things to light. 

The argument went on for over a year. And then the tragic suicide of Sushant Sing Rajput brought the argument back to life. 

What is nepotism? 

Nepotism is a specific form of favoritism in which a family member is prioritized over a non-family member. While it is certainly a controversial topic in business ethics, it isn’t inherently unethical to employ family members.

Where does it exist? 

Duh! Everywhere. 

The argument

Does nepotism exist in Bollywood? 

There are two sides to every story. 

Side One: Nepotism exists in Bollywood and most outsiders face intolerance.

Sons and daughters of popular film stars automatically get the red carpet welcome into the film industry. Karan Johar promotes them by launching them in his movies. They are preferred over skilled actors and newbies who probably deserve to be there more than those with golden tickets and silver spoons. 

There are camps in Bollywood. Outsiders are treated shabbily and ignored. They are dropped unceremoniously and given no reason. People who had earlier picked them for their movies are forced to withdraw their offers.

Side Two: Nepotism exists everywhere. It’s talent that takes people to the top. 

Isn’t it a director or a producer’s call to pick who he wants to work with? This is not a Government Agency where you need to screen all applicants and take consensus. If someone chooses to work with a son or daughter of someone he knows, is it entirely wrong? 

Besides, being related to an actor does not make you a good actor for sure or guarantee you success in the industry. Amitabh Bhachan’s son, Abhishek Bhachan has had a tougher road than most. Having to live up to a legend can take its toll. He probably wishes he was his own and not his father’s son because people never see him as anything else. 

And then we have Alia Bhat – star-kid and launched by Karan Johar. She  has impressed the nation with her acting skills. Her first movie showed none of it, but today she has definitely proven to be a star in her own way. 

And then there is the negative side to nepotism. You cannot say no. Take Alia Bhat again. She had some amazing opportunities. She worked hard. Did extraordinarily well. And then she was given scripts which she would not have accepted, given the chance. But she had to, because she was so-and-so’s relative and saying no would mean opening a can of worms. Nepotism means you can’t say no either. 

The world is a competition. Sure, we all have to start at the same place to be able to participate and race against each other. Many feel that star kids start ahead of the curve and the competition is unfair. Others feel that it takes talent to get ahead in the race, not just the last name. It’s not about how you start, but how you handle the journey. How far you go with what you have inside of you. 

End of the day, everyone has their own journey. Sure, you can get into Bollywood with that last name. But can you last with just that name? Is it fair to diss all star kids and call them a fluke? 

What’s your opinion? 

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