The Hindi film industry has been less welcoming towards actors who hail from humble backgrounds. Karan Johar has been pointed out often as the flagbearer of nepotism. While a few star kids squirmed with guilt-ridden embarrassment, others had humbly acknowledged that much of what they get is because of their last name.
Now a new name Adarsh Gourav has become testimony of talent existing outside the Bollywood family. He has been nominated in the BAFTA's Best Actor category along with stalwarts such as Late Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Hopkins, Mads Mikkelson, Tahir Rahim to name a few. If he wins, it would be a huge break for Gourav as an actor, and a lesson for Bollywood producers to shed the thought of outsiders as less bankable for the business.
The White Tiger had been one of the first Indian releases in India in the year 2021. The film had largely been promoted under the faces of two of Bollywood's A-lister outsiders, Priyanka Chopra and Rajkummar Rao.
However, it was Adarsh Gourav, the former tea-seller, who became the show stealer again. Many had drawn parallels with the previously Oscar-winning film, Slumdog Millionaire but let us face it, The White Tiger had a lot more to offer than just a picture of India being an underdeveloped country.
There had been a multitude, which included the slum-dwelling city people, the Indians who wish to build a new India and watch the country prosper and the Indians who want to settle in New York and visit India on a tour basis.
Has Bollywood learnt the lesson
In 2016, even in the middle of demonetisation, Nitesh Tiwari's directorial, Dangal, starring four outsiders Sanya Malhotra, Fatima Sana Sheikh, Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar, went on to create a new kind of history at the box office of the Hindi film industry.
It came as a huge shock since the film had marvelled at a time when most producers were blaming demonetisation for the bad performance of their films at the theatres. Late actor Rishi Kapoor too had questioned the producers, when Dangal went on to become hugely successful till the next year.
However, the act of launching star kids will not be halted,. But the big win on the international platforms, and success at the domestic box office should act as an eye-opener for A-lister producers in Bollywood, about creating a co-existence where talents, with or without family connections can perform and survive in the industry.
Ever since Priyanka Chopra, started a new venture as a producer and opened up Purple Pebbles Pictures, she had produced Ventilator, Pahuna, Sarvann, Firebrands. The Sky Is Pink had marked her first Hindi project and later in The White Tiger, she introduced new talents too. Even while managing Hollywood projects in New York, our PeeCee managed to do her job right in India.
Needless to say, brand PC brings a new kind of energy to the film industry which begins with Chopra's big win as Miss World and later her conquest as the global icon. That again was another success story of an outsider in Bollywood.