Bollywood's nepotism debate has been carrying on for years. The idea of merit versus connections, who gets the first chance, and who gets opportunities based on connection, is not new to any profession.
While nepotism exists in every walk of life, and naturally so, in Bollywood, it has become a question of the kind of culture it breeds that makes it hard on those who came from outside it.
The 'outsider' versus 'insider' debate was fuelled with Sushant Singh Rajput's death. Now, as the death is investigated, netizens have been demanding justice and have been trolling big names in the industry out of outrage.
The matter doesn't seem to be dying down as it has done so many times in the past. Moreover, a significant number of celebrities have called on Bollywood to look inward and change certain habits, and curb some of the harmful practices it hones.
The nepotism debate: Bollywood celebrities speak out
Nepotism might always exist, whether hidden or in the open, will doing loved ones and friends a favour stop? Maybe not. Of course, giving an opportunity to someone of talent is necessary, but choosing an association, preferential treatment and giving someone a chance at the cost of real talent, might always be frowned upon. Sushant Singh Rajput's death triggered this debate.
The nepotism debate had been quietly playing out as a few celebrities cried foul, and many chose to turn a blind eye. Now, with Sushant Singh Rajput's death there has been an outcry online against all that looks glamourous in Bollywood. Big names have been slandered and trolled over nepotism. Despite them expressing anguish over the demise, to the public perhaps their show of grief mattered less.
A sizeable number of actors and directors began discussing nepotism out in the open. There has always been hesitance in the industry to address it, to call it out, or to provide their take. But, some actors and directors who rose above it, spoke openly and even called for a change in behaviours and attitudes.
Director Nikhil Dwivedi had slammed those mourning Sushant's loss when they hadn't kept in touch with him while he was alive:
At times our movie industry's hypocrisy gets to me. High &mighty announcing they shud ve kept in touch wth Sushant..— Nikhil Dwivedi (@Nikhil_Dwivedi) June 14, 2020
Cmon u didn't! &thts coz his career dipped. So STFU! R u in touch with Imran Khan, Abhay Deol &others? No!
But u were, whn they were doing well#SushantSinghRajput
Shekhar Kapur had urged for a change in the system itself:
Naming few people has no value. They themselves are products and victims of a ‘system’ everyone is protesting against.— Shekhar Kapur (@shekharkapur) June 16, 2020
If you really care, if you’re really angry, then bring down the system. Not the individual. That’s guerilla warfare. Not a spurt of anger. #SushantSinghRajput
Prakash Raj acknowledged it and shed light on the importance of thick skin:
Gulshan Devaiah who had said there's no sense of 'family' in Bollywood, also spoke about the deep-rootedness of the culture:
I’ve seen good friends of mine who are “outsiders” shamelessly lick asses of other “outsiders” who wield power #outsiders vs #insiders my ass— Gulshan Devaiah (@gulshandevaiah) June 17, 2020
This ass licking & handshaking is never gonna stop. Do you still have it in you to even fucking exist in bollywood? What way is your way?
Vivek Oberoi expressed the need for change in the industry:
Raveena Tandon spoke openly against the culture of Bollywood and the 'mean girl gang'
When you speak the truth,you are branded a liar,Mad,psychotic. Chamcha journos write pages&pages destroying all the hard work that you might have done.Even though born in the industry, grateful for all it has given me,but dirty politics played by some can leave a sour taste . https://t.co/uR9usJitdb— Raveena Tandon (@TandonRaveena) June 15, 2020
Kangana Ranaut also spoke about 'blind items' and how Bollywood 'mafia' was ruining good talent:
The whole debate has gotten out of hand. Many Bollywood actors like Sonam Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha have spoken up against the attacks on nepotism. Sonakshi deactivated her account after receiving hate. How far is too far? How much is too much? Maybe that's a question that needs answering at this point. There don't seem to be two sides to this debate, just some who've made peace with it but hoping for some change and those who've made peace with it and don't want anybody hurt in the process. In some ways, they all seem to be right where they stand.