By S Sapehia
‘Nepotism’ is as ancient as human race itself and even traces its origins beyond that to as early as Mesozoic era (we know as age of dinosaurs).
One doesn’t have to cudgel his brain in order to fathom that it stems from man’s very inherent trait of protecting or safeguarding our ‘flesh and blood’ and often times further that of our near and dear one’s.
Recent untimely tragic demise of young and charismatic Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death has reignited the discourse on nepotism and not just the entertainment industry but people outside it have divergent take on it.
A war of words have erupted on world wide web where while a section of keyboard warriors spewing venom against nepotism and its purported proponents in bollywood, there is another section of netizens countering them, citing sizable number of instances where talented actors/artists irrespective of their family background or without a godfather in the industry, not only made a mark but also thriving in the industry.
We have brilliant actors Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Raj Kumar Rao, Ayushman Khurana, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Irrfan Khan, Manoj Bajpai, Pankaj Tripathi, Ranveer Singh, Amit Shad including late actor SSR and list just goes on.
If we try to dissect meaning of the word nepotism, Hindi translation of the word says ‘Bhai-Bhateejabaad’ and English translation is favouritism and traces its etymology to the word ‘nephewism’.
Beginning from the smallest unit of society, the family, nepotism is omnipresent; be it politics, showbiz, sports, business or for that matter every sphere of life.
If a mother tries every possible weapon in her arsenal to manoeuvre or alter things in order to ensure that her son or daughter shine in a particular field, we wouldn’t possibly want to jump to conclusions dubbing it wrong or right. It’s a grey zone and exists in every fibre of our being albeit in varying degrees.
If nepotism ever existed in bollywood which we all know that it does, it has got diluted with the passage of time and there could not have been better time for budding talented artists to give a shot and get their work noticed in the world of glamour.
With digital streaming platforms such as Netflix, Prime, Hotstar and MX player among others altering the dynamics of how content was originally created, distributed and viewed/consumed, unarguably there is no dearth of quality work rather abundance of it for the talented artists.
OTT platforms not only managed to create rich original content but also put spotlight on fresh faces that not only endowed them opportunity to discover their talent but also find voice and expression. Undoubtedly, the power structure or camps that be in bollywood or in politics use money and muscle power to sabotage careers of those not so privileged to have their way with things.
But that again holds true for every sphere of life, even if a sweeper who cleans the street on daily basis quite possibly stand a chance to lose his job if he does not do his work properly or a contractor might as well replace him with another sweeper who is acquainted to him.
More recent and classic example of a grand old Indian political party that once thrived on nepotism but beleaguered as it is today, dissidents calling for overhauling.
Harping on nepotism or favouritism especially by an actor who despite being an “outsider” not only got to work in quality films as lead actress but also won national award for her powerful performances, is utterly unfortunate.
Her social media posts may have whetted appetite of many but in the longer-run it would certainly go on to set a bad precedent for budding artists who want to work in the industry. Even star kids have a heavy baggage (often unwanted) of carrying forward the legacy of their parents and there too goes years of preparation to acquire a specific skill or master a particular technique.
Their parents or patrons may thrust them in the industry with that ‘grand launch’ in a heavy budget film with masters of the trade anchoring the project, pulling out all stops to make it a hit. But contemporary Indian audience is way smarter and aware now and unlike previously, wouldn’t consume whatever you serve them.
Given the high stakes and cut-throat competition in the showbiz industry, a star kid has the luxury of being backed-up at the maximum for four to five initial projects thereafter, he or she has to either learn to swim or get drown. And to latter we have several instances to that effect as well.
Publicity mongers in the industry did not even spare the tragic demise of a great actor and instead feeding off the dead on garb of nepotism that has only exacerbated the situation, leading many to fall prey to a fallacy subsequently.
Celebs also have moral responsibility towards society and while spreading false propaganda on the name of nepotism may be cathartic to them at personal level but harbouring hate or spreading negative sentiments against the purported ‘privileged lot’ in the showbiz would barely serve any purpose and tantamount to have an axe to grind.
Yes, indeed it does exist but wishing nepotism away is just out of the realm of possibility and amid this cacophony of ‘outsider’ versus ‘insider’ battle, harmonious co-existence is the only way forward.
Views expressed by the writer are personal