Hindi Film 101: Nepotism in the Hindi Film Industry, Part 2

Happy Thursday!  On Tuesday, I started a discussion of Hindi film history and industrial development, inspired by all the discussion of “nepotism” popping up lately.  I don’t usually plug my book in these posts, but if you find these posts in particular interesting, I go into much more detail in my book, so you should check it out. (part 1 here)

Usual Disclaimer: I have no particular personal knowledge, but I have read a lot of articles and books and interviews about Indian film history, and this is my interpretation of it.  I hope you find it useful.

 

I left off last time at the 80s.  For decades, Indian film, especially Hindi film, had survived based on a small community of families pulling together and working together despite the obstacles.  The Indian government used their censor board, their restrictions on import-export laws, even forcing movie theaters at one point to show government made documentaries instead of popular films.  Not allowing film music to be played on government radio, restricting films being shown on television.  And, most damaging, refusing to give industry status to the industry.  Which meant no money could be raised through stocks and, more generally, banks were reluctant to give loans, and most people if they had a choice would prefer a more stable industry for their careers.

The people who were left were the ones who didn’t really have any other choice.  Traditional artists who couldn’t find a place in new India, Urdu poets and dancers from the Tawaif or temple dancer tradition, musicians and Parsi theater set designers and actors, they all landed up in Bombay and in films.  You already saw this in my posts on Meena Kumari and Nargis and how they ended up as film actresses.  And then there were the ones like the Kapoors, who through the difficult birth of new India ended up losing everything, family farms going away, traditional status, everything else.  Until the young people of the family had no choice but to strike out for Bombay and try to start a new life.

Image result for rk studios holi party

(Holi party at RK Studios.  I don’t know for sure, but I an guessing most of these people were not born in Bombay, and are awfully happy to have found people to celebrate Holi with in their new home)

As the decades rolled by, the descendents of these first families kept working in film.  It was more than just a job, it was a community, it was what they had grown up with.  And not just the producers and the actors.  For example, there is a great article I read on the generations of the “dressman” of Hindi film.  The dressmen would start their training as a teenager or younger, with their uncle or neighbor or father, or maybe an older man you just met the day you arrived in Bombay desperate for a job.  They would go to the sets every day and make more money than they could working in a tea shop or a factory.  And then after decades of this, they would become the chief dressman and take on their own assistant/apprentice, from their family or maybe just a bright boy you met on the streets.  And the mentor would retire on his savings and with the support for the rest of his life of his former apprentice.  The old school directors and producers all knew these kinds of workers through working together for years and years, sometimes watching them grow up into the jobs.  They would give money for a daughter’s wedding or help out when someone got sick, and they would trust the work because they trusted the workers and knew the workers.

Image result for bollywood dressman

(A dressman and his assistant)

That is just one example of one field, because I happened to read an article on it.  But you can expand that to every aspect of filming.  The spot boys, the cameramen, the whole community of a film set was made up of people like this, who had originally come to Bombay from somewhere else and found a new home in film, and then passed that new home on to their children and their children’s children.

But then came the 1990s.  Two things started happening in the 90s.  First was Dawood Ibrahim taking over the local crime industry in Bombay.  The mob had always been tied to film.  It goes back to the early years after Independence, when black marketers needed a place to hide their war profiteering and film seemed like a good option.  It had the possibility of enormous profits, but was not very highly regulated.

And for a gangster, the “family” structure was an advantage.  They needed to work with individuals, people they could trust, not corporations.  If you are dealing with “black” money, then contracts and legal documents aren’t available to protect your investment.  You need to know you are giving it to a single person who will be responsible for treating you fairly.  There were a few studios in the early days, “studios” in the American tradition with actual studio lots and 9 to 5 working hours.  But they slowly transitioned to being more family and Star focused as time went on.  And the norm became tiny “banners”, run by one man who kept the accounts in his head and the money hidden under his wife’s bed.

The mob had always been involved, everyone knew that, and everyone was somewhat aware that a flop film might mean broken legs or a vandalized office until you paid back your debts.  But everything was kind of compartmentalized.  You borrowed the money, you made your movie, you invited the gangsters to the big debut party, you paid them off.

Image result for haji mastan amitabh

(Here’s smuggler king Haji Mastan at some awards show, hanging with the film stars)

But in the 90s, Dawood Ibrahim came to power in Bombay.  Dawood was different in several ways from the former gangster kings.  He brought in drugs, guns, all kinds of things that the “gentlemen smugglers” of the past didn’t bother with.  But his biggest weapon was kidnapping and murder.  It was almost random, just because you told the wrong person about a bonus you got at work, or because someone saw you buying a fancy new car, you would get a phone call saying “give us money or we kill your children”.  And you had to do it, because they actually would kill your children.  And Dawood decided that he wanted to take the whole film industry hostage.

Suddenly these new producers started popping up out of nowhere, and you HAD to work with them.  If you didn’t, you would get a phone call, a rock through your window, a visit from scary men in the middle of the night.  This wasn’t like anything the film people had needed to deal with before, this was something new and terrifying.

But it also meant that there was suddenly an enormous amount of cash floating around, more than films had ever seen before.  Cash from two sources.  The mob producers, who seemed to have bottomless pockets for contract advances to stars and buying off composers who had been promised to other films, and other “offer you can’t refuse” situations.  But also the loosening of the Indian economy which was FINALLY allowing for new audiences to start sending their overseas money to the Hindi film industry.  For the first time, there was the possibility of planning for more than just film to film, and some reasons for film to appeal as an actual “industry” to the legitimate money men of India.

And then in 1999, the Indian government finally gave Indian film industrial status and everything changed.  The largest businesses in film at the time, the distribution houses, suddenly became interested in production for the first time (UTV, etc.).  The tiny family houses started going under, being swallowed up.  And international houses came in, Disney and Sony and Columbia all started opening up Indian wings and making investments.  The days of the family studios were over.

Image result for reliance entertainment

(Not just outside of India corporations, Reliance Entertainment was formed in 2005, an offshoot of Reliance Corp., India’s largest corporation)

Or were the family studios over?  Out of all this chaos and change, one studio emerged as a clear winner, Yash Raj Films.  Which has stayed a family business, refusing to go public and keeping itself under single-ownership.  And which smoothly transitioned in management from father to son.  With Pamela Chopra (the widowed mother) still heavily involved as the public face, and Uday Chopra (the less talented brother), set aside in a smaller role.  Yash Raj has managed to make the shift to “corporate” in size and profit, but stayed “family” in structure.

Almost equally important, I think, to the industrial status in 1999 was the release of Kaho Na Pyar Hai a year later.  Kaho Na Pyar Hai is a family made film for a new age.  Rakesh Roshan produced and directed, his brother wrote the music, and it was all in service of launching Hrithik.  But the way they went about the “launch” is what made it so different.

I mentioned in my last section how Rishi Kapoor ended up getting the lead in Bobby because they couldn’t afford to hire someone, so his Dad made him do it for free.  That was the case in all kinds of areas in Indian film, not just acting but music and choreography and editing and everything else.  If you couldn’t afford to hire someone else, you would make your kid do it.  And if the kid did well, maybe someone else would hire them and they would end up with a career.  Ramesh Sippy, for instance, before he directed Sholay, was just a producer’s son who would direct his father’s next film and save them the money of hiring someone else.

There were the occasional films that were clearly star launch features.  But they weren’t always to launch the producer’s son or someone from within the industry.  Hero, for instance, made Jackie Shroff a star.  Jackie had no connections to anyone, but he had an unusual look and he would work for cheap, so Subhash Ghai picked him up.  And benefited for decades to come, because he built a bond with Jackie through that film and Jackie constantly came back to work with him after he became a star.  It’s kind of an investment scheme.  You put in the time and energy to help someone when they are starting out, building a deep personal connection, and then if they make it big, they will turn around and help you out.

Image result for jackie shroff subhash ghai

(Jackie, showing up at the music launch of Ghai’s latest film, 3 decades after he was first launched by him)

Remember how I wrote about Dulha Mil Gaye recently?  The producer, back in the early 90s, let a young Shahrukh Khan stay in his apartment for free when he was starting out, and helped him to meet directors and producers.  And 15 years later, Shahrukh was the biggest star in the industry and agreed to do a worthless cameo appearance in a terrible movie because he owed him.  It’s an emotional investment that paid off for him years later.

The emotional investment can go both ways.  If you are an aspiring filmmaker, it’s probably a better idea to spend your time getting to know people and remembering birthdays and building a bond with them, and working super hard at small jobs to prove your commitment, than spending a lot of money to go to some training program.  Or even going to auditions and open calls, there are some of those now, but you are just as likely to be cast because you become friends with the right person at the studio canteen.

The reason you need to make these emotional investments goes back to that mob thing.  Because the industry was run on “black” money (still is largely, in an effort to avoid taxes), contracts were meaningless.  So a star wouldn’t be tied to working with you because of a paycheck or a legal agreement.  It had to be a different kind of commitment.

Which I guess is another reason a producer might want to help their children get careers.  If you are frustrated working with stars who take off and break contracts, directors who don’t show up for work, and composers who turn around and sell a song promised to you to someone else, it would be tempting to think “if I could just train my son to do this and work with him, I wouldn’t have to worry about it.”

Related image

(Quote from the article where this photo was published: “Duggu [Hrithik] is my strength”)

But, again, Kaho Na Pyar Hai was something else.  This wasn’t a trial run to see if the kid had any talent, this was an all in gamble on a major major hit, a gamble that no one had ever tried before.  And, as we all know, it paid off big time!  Not just because Hrithik was super talented (which he was).  But because it was released at the perfect time.  Globalization had reached a tipping point, allowing KNPH to hit all over the world at the same time as it hit at home.  Funding had reached a point that allowed producers to send out prints through out India simultaneously.  New media had advanced, suddenly internet articles and TV interviews were sent out overnight declaring Hrithik a superstar.  Hrithik went from a nobody to the king of the industry in one film.  And this had two major results, both bad.

Firstly, suddenly every star kid in the industry was offered another major launch with the flawed reasoning that Hrithik had hit just because he happened to be born in the industry.  It wasn’t just producers who were confused about this, the media was too.  And still is, we are now dealing with a massive obsession with star children in a way that just wasn’t there before because everyone thinks there will be another Hrithik.  And all of the new media has focused its potential on tracking every move of these poor kids.  In a way that isn’t true in any other popular culture industry that I know of anywhere else in the world.

Secondly, Hrithik’s success was the death knell for the gang involvement in the industry.  Which is generally a good thing, I’m not “pro-mobster” by any means.  But it was bad because in that vacuum after the mob left, the corporate houses descended and quickly took control. The mob left because Rakesh Roshan was shot, in an attempt to scare his son into agreeing to work for the mob.  And that was kind of the last straw.  Along with a lot of other last straws.  Bombay was immersed in a gang war, gangsters didn’t have quite as much time to deal with movie business.  More and more funding was coming from banks and multinational corporations.  Oh, and Priety Zinta testified in court about threats she received from Salman Khan and others related to a promotional tour for Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, gaining her the nickname “the only Man in Bollywood”.

Image result for Nazim Rizvi

(Salman with Nazim Rizvi, the mobbed up producer of Chori Chori Chupke Chupke)

And so here we are today, in the years after Hrithik.  On the one hand, studios are now treated as “corporations”.  Hiring is expected to be related to resumes and graduate certificates, not on personal connections like Johnny Walker being spotted collecting tickets on a bus, or Guru Dutt and Dev Anand meeting over a laundry mishap.

But on the other hand, that “community” is still there.  It can’t go away as easily as that.  Just this week, the release of Sarkar 3 was rescheduled last minute because Aishwarya Rai’s father died.  That’s not normal!!!  Would any other industry in the world delay a major product launch because someone’s son’s father-in-law died?  Of course not!  They probably wouldn’t even know it happened, because it’s not the kind of thing people who are just business partners share with each other.  Or how about when Yash Chopra died, literally the entire Hindi film industry shut down for the funeral.  Studios closed their doors, the Mumbai Film Festival canceled all events, location shoots throughout India and the world were canceled so the stars and crew could fly home.  This is what happens in a family, not a business.

Image result for yash chopra funeral

(Just the fact of co-workers routinely going to each other’s family funerals, that’s not a thing in “corporate” worlds.  Let alone the way they are all clearly struggling with actual grief, not just “for the sake of appearances” grief)

And, this is just my personal opinion, but I think that “family” aspect is a strength, not a weakness.  American film has never had a family vibe to it.  Because American businessmen are, frankly, horrible people.  The early film studios were called “factories” and that’s exactly how they were run.  Artists were just cogs in the assembly line, disposable.  And disposed of, you don’t have to do much digging to find dozens of people who were chewed up and spit out by that machine (Judy Garland, for instance, given hard drugs as child by Louis B. Mayer so she would stay “peppy”).

And that’s where we are today.  There is an outside perception that Hindi film should be an “industry”, because it has that gloss to it.  International investment, big office buildings, and more and more objective measurements of success, from box office to graduate certificates in specialized programs.

Image result for film and television institute of india

(until 1960 and the founding of the Film and Television Institute of India, there was absolutely no film program in India, on the job training was the only kind of training.  Now, more and more bright young upper upper middle class kids are trying to skip that step by going overseas and coming back with a fancy international degree in film, just like you would with engineering or medicine.  A film degree which everyone from Ranbir Kapoor to James Cameron to Quentin Tarantino has acknowledged teaches you less than 6 months working on a real set.)

But in the heart of it, yes, it is all about nepotism still.  It’s about getting to know people and one on one training and proving yourself on the job.  And then getting the big break.  It’s not about just showing up the first day and getting a chance based on raw talent.  Or about going through a training program and then walking into a job.  It’s about building a bond and a trust and only then getting that offer.  Because you aren’t just getting a job, you are joining a family.

 

 

And on that note, we end the nepotism series!  Which means that it is time to pick what I should write about next.  And just to shake things up, I’ll give you some big conceptual options as well the usual scandalous bio options:

  1. Sanjay Dutt (I have to do it sometime before December, why not now?)
  2. Bombay crime/film
  3. Censorship
  4. Parveen Babi
  5. The history of distribution practices
Advertisements

33 thoughts on “Hindi Film 101: Nepotism in the Hindi Film Industry, Part 2

  1. I have a similar picture of the Film and Television Institute of India. I’m tempted to post it, but not without your permission.

    Like

  2. The problem I have with nepotism is when it is a barrier to deserving people. If you are a fabulous actor and do all the right things to learn and experience the film world — but it takes you 20 years of menial positions and by that time you’re too old for a start. Meanwhile, friend of a friend of a relative is actually acting on camera when they’re 15. How many great performances are we missing because some brilliant actor couldn’t get his/her foot in the door?

    Like

    • I agree! But then the question becomes, how would you best find these fabulous actors? Dangal, for instance, did everything “right”. In the Koffee episode, both actresses went into detail on the process. It was 6 weeks of auditions and callbacks, held by a professional casting company, and they were cast based on their objective abilities as actresses, not on their connections or their resumes. And you could say that is great and all films should be cast that way.

      Only, there is still a hidden barrier to entry in this process. In order to be completely objective and merit based, they had to do a full six weeks of call backs. Which means the only people who could go through this process would be the ones who could be out of work for 6 weeks in order to try for this job. And even before then, they would have to be people who understood how casting calls worked, who could read and speak English to understand the instructions, who had transportation available to get to and from the casting agency, and so on. So the barriers of nepotism and connections are removed, but they are replaced by barriers of class, education, and disposable income.

      I think the ideal system might be closer to the “AD” system that Dharma Films and Yash Raj are already using. It’s on the job training and an internship all at the same time. You are drawing an actual paycheck, and you don’t need fancy expensive training. You still have to prove yourself for a few years, and be easy to work with and get along well with others, but it allows for outsiders to get a chance without needing to go through all the class barriers of an open casting call. My impression is that there are a lot of ADs working on each film, but only a couple end up being really mentored and encouraged based on their abilities as proven during shooting. It’s harder for actors, especially heroines, because as you point out they only have a limited time for their careers to take off. Spending 2-3 years slowly proving yourself on the job would be difficult for an actress to go through, when actresses only have viable careers between 16 and 36. Maybe the solution isn’t to get rid of nepotism, but to get rid of this abbreviated lifetime for an actress which doesn’t build in time for her to work her way up?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very interesting! The mob aspect of Hindi film in the 90s really intrigues me (and is also incredibly terrifying to consider). It’s an interesting dichotomy between the colorful, joyous and silly stories onscreen and the dark, scary undercurrent running behind the scenes. There was a story, I think in Anupama Chopra’s Shahrukh book, about several huge, armed bodyguards just off-camera the entire time that they were shooting Dil to Pagal Hai, because of a threat on Shahrukh’s life that he refused to back down from. That’s certainly more exciting than anything that happened on-screen in the movie! (I kid, I kid, you know I’m a big DTPH fan.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Have you watched Main Khiladi Tu Anari yet? It’s a big fun silly action movie, but it also has a bit of a backstage film aspect to it. And it is fascinating for how it handles the mob part of the industry in the 90s, acknowledging it as just a cost of doing business, our silly naive movie star doesn’t even think about it, he is so used to it.

      Like

  4. I loved this article, it explains a lot. Couldn’t Karan write something like this in his column instead of trying to convince us that nepotism doesn’t exsist?

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is the advantage of academia! I can come into it and see the whole beginnings and ends from an outsider perspective. Karan doesn’t have that luxury, he is all caught up on the inside of it.

      Of course, he also knows all sorts of things I don’t, and has all kinds of other specialized knowledge, but in this one area, it’s good to have an outsider view.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Great article and a great overview. I’d heard about Hrithik’s father being threatened by the mob and shot, but this puts it into historical context which is very helpful in illuminating the significance to the industry — and not just the Roshan family.

    I think the AD system for directors happening at Dharma is a great form of “nepotism”, but for actors, I do wish there was something more like Dangal — finding diamonds in the rough. An interesting coda to Dangal is how especially evidenced in that Koffee episode that Aamir made those young actresses part of his family!!

    Like

    • There’s a whole other post on female modesty and how it affects work opportunities. Film work, with the late hours and casual attitude and mixture of classes and religions and everything else, isn’t considered work for “proper” women. Not even talking about actresses, ADs and editors and sound mixers and every job like that, it’s had to get your start if you are a woman not just because you might not be hired, but because your parents may not let you work in that kind of job. Farah got her start because she was able to apprentice with her uncle, so it was “proper” to work with him, she was essentially chaperoned. And she has been very aggressive about mentoring other young women since she is the only female high enough in the industry to do it. I think Zoya Akhtar has followed her lead and been aggressive about it as well. And Sonam and her sister are taking it to a whole different level producing movies that feature women and working closely with their stars.

      On Thu, Apr 6, 2017 at 9:29 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Liked by 2 people

  6. The holi pic has very welk own faces. Raj Jappor & Prithviraj Kappor are at both ends. RD Berman on Accordian,; Nargis is the lady in front. Check out memsaab story website. She has extrnsive knowledge of Hindi actors of the past both welknown & obscure.

    Hritik was not he first star son launched by father nor was he first heartthrob.

    Kumar Gaurav, Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Ajay Devgan, Sanjay Kappor are some of the star kids launched by their fathers/ friends of fathers. There are alos a slew of star kids hat were launched bur never made it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I thought I recognized Nargis, and of course Raj and Prithviraj, but I had no idea that was RD Burman.

      What I find different about Hrithik is what I said in the post, that he was launched in such a huge manner, which just hadn’t been possible before, not that wide of a release both through out India and the world, with all those websites and everything else to bring immediate news of his success.

      You are right, Memsaabstory’s website is wonderful!

      On Sun, Apr 9, 2017 at 2:26 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      • And then there was the time they had started promoting his brother-in-law Zayed Khan claiming he is being trained just like Hrithik (gymming and dance lessons) for his big launch. IDK, I kinda liked Zayed. He was effortlessly amiable in that film. I wonder why he stopped working.

        I have a funny story about Hrithik’s launch. So, for some reason I just didn’t like him from the word go. I don’t even remember who I had a crush on during that time. (Prince William and Shahid Afridi maybe) But my schoolfriend did. She was in full fangirl mode. She even wrote him a letter. And she got a response. She showed it to me because I was the only one she’d confided in. She was gushing about how amazing it was that he took the time to write a letter back to a fan. It was a letter printed in handwriting font and Hritik had only given his autograph at the end in his own hand. I knew that because my cable got a channel that did a special on him where he said he took time out every day to autograph responses to fan letters and he autographed every picture sent back with responses himself. I didn’t tell her the entire letter wasn’t written by Hrithik.

        But I think of those things now. Getting a reply from a star on social seems not so unlikely. Heck stars do twitter AMAs all the time and they turn into news items too. I wonder if someone still does the fan latter thing anymore. It would be so cute if someone did. Like hired a letter reading assistant who could pick out the most interesting letters and then the star reads it too and responds. I’m sure they have social media managers that do something like that but if I’m thinking in today’s environment, it would be so amazing if a kid wrote a letter to a star and made a card and everything and th star wrote back with a special autographed picture!!!

        Like

        • I liked Zayed too! Main Hoon Na, Dus, he was delightful! I think maybe more natural charm onscreen than Hrithik himself. But less dancing, beauty, star power.

          That story is really sweet! I know with the social media world, they do the same thing, but different. I read an article somewhere about those social media armies (you know, the ones who drive the twitter trends any time a trialer comes out or anything), and how stars will meet with them one on one to say thank you. I think the example in the article was Ranveer, who I don’t even think of as that active on social media or with that big of a fan army, but there was someone out there who coordinated all kinds of promos for him, and Ranveer made sure to reach out and have a private meeting with him to say thank you. And of course Shahrukh’s last couple of movies, his trailer launches have been all fan only things.

          You know who I could see still doing the fan letter thing? Anil Kapoor. Or Jackie Shroff. Those old school stars who still have old school fans that don’t know how to work computers.

          Oh, and have you seen Dhanak? Not to spoil too much, but the whole (incredibly sweet) movie revolves around a kid sending a fan letter.

          On Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 11:11 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

          >

          Liked by 1 person

          • Gotta watch that! Oh and what you said about the film fraternity working like a community and helping out the guy on the lower end of the scale- that is exactly what I meant when I talked about social obligations in that Bahubali post. Imagine those small community style banners surviving unindustrialized (but they get rich and the business stabilises purely on profits from the BO) for 100s of years. Of course the patriarch in that setup would still be sought when help is needed by the small guy in his community.

            Oh and it is customary in India for businesses to shut down shop in solidarity when one of the businesses in the community has a death in the family.

            That’s why Rishi Kapoor was totally justified in attacking the “stars” who didn’t attend Vinod Khanna’s funeral.

            Like

          • there was this really interesting little story a while back, some technician died (I think of a heart attack?) on the set of Ek Tha Tiger. And his widow was making a stink because Salman hadn’t given them money yet.

            There were all these underlying assumptions! That just because the worker had died while working on a film, the owners of that film had a lifetime responsibility to the family. And that it would be Salman, the star, not the producer of the film or anyone else, who would take on that responsibility.

            And everyone accepted this, including Salman. His side of the story wasn’t “this woman is ripping me off, why should I support her just because her husband died?” It was “the money is on the way, obviously we are in process of doing this.”

            It helps explain the terrible working standards of these film sets, safety and 8 hour days and all of that are unheard of. But who cares, if you are injured or get sick, you will be taken care of, so you don’t need a bunch of safety guarantees.

            On Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 11:35 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

            >

            Like

          • And then we’re back in the nepotism debate again! Like you said, most of the technicians and crew working a film are also hired through connections. They’ve learnt their craft on the job too and if their mentor didn’t bother with safety etc, they probably won’t be inclined to bother with it either, especially since safety gear is expensive and the producer has no money left after paying the star.

            Like

          • Exactly! It’s all a trust and tradition system, not contracts and legalities.

            On Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 11:55 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

            >

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Hindi Film 101 One-Off: The Importance of Ratnam-Rahman and the Director-Composer Relationship – dontcallitbollywood

  8. Pingback: Hindi Film 101: Woman Filmmakers, Why So Few? – dontcallitbollywood

  9. Pingback: Hindi Film 101: The Samarth-Mukherjee Family Part 2, The Mukherjee (Ganguly) Branch – dontcallitbollywood

  10. Pingback: Hindi Film 101 One-Off: Bahubali 2 and the Future and the Past of All India Hits – dontcallitbollywood

  11. I actually remember the Preity Zinta thing too. She’s an alumni from my alma mater 😁 and her generation of girls was the feistiest in the college’s century old history. (At our college, you meet an alumni from two batches before you, you call them Ma’m.)

    That natural no-nonsense attitude of Bedians aside, she is an Upper Shimla girl too. Now, the upper Shimla belt is famous for being a tight community and they have super strong political connections too. There isn’t much on the Internet to prove this theory but I remember the conversations in town from the time which claimed that she was able to be fearless because she had the backing of the Congress Party and security assurances were given from the highest level to her.

    Like

    • I love that Preity background! She was always one of my favorites, seemed to have a certain kind of inner strength without being boring or snobby seeming. Kind of sad her life took a turn somewhere, but hopefully she is happy being married to someone totally outside of the industry and kind of having her own life back.

      On Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 11:23 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Just caught up with all your good stuff here on nepotism through the ages. What brilliant and analytic writing, much better than most desi film journos who cover the industry happenings. Still wrestling with the realization that a westerner is schooling me about Hindi cinema when it has almost always been ever present around me!

    I’m led to wonder about Karan’s soundly profit oriented assertion that it is a business at the end of the day and he is free to pick and choose whoever he wants and the people are free to ignore his films for whatever reason. Can that reasoning be extended to Hollywood studios who these days are obligated to give due consideration to factors like inclusivity, diversity and the portrayal of women etc in both casting as well as for those working in the industry? As in, can they not also use the same argument that it is a business and they are free to employ and cast whoever they think will draw the biggest audience and not be morally/ethically obligated for anything to anyone? At what point does the great power great responsibility dynamic kick in if at all.

    As for Kangana, there is also the story about how she has demanded co-writing credit for the upcoming film Simran after suggesting changes here and there while filming. And not surprisingly the actual writer was not too thrilled which set in motion a chain in which the writer posted his side of the story and then another writer accused him of being a stealer himself before finally Kangana herself weighed in lol. No clue who to believe.



    http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2017/05/18/kangana-ranaut-on-accusations-of-stealing-credits-being-diffi_a_22096892/

    Like

    • For the diversity question in American pop culture, there’s a fallacy in the way the question is usually phrased. The fact is, diversity IS profitable. It is obviously the only sound business decision. Every hit movie of the past 5 years (Fast and the Furious and the Marvel movies, most successful franchises, aggressively diverse casting. Spider-man Homecoming, first successful Spider-man movie in years, aggressively diverse cast. And the sleeper hits with the biggest profit margin in history, Get Out. Plus The Big Sick which is also rapidly climbing) and hit TV shows (except for NCIS, but Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Quantico, the Big Bang Theory) has had a diverse cast. People like seeing people like themselves onscreen and will go out of their way to watch anything in which they feel included. Business logic says you should cast as varied a group as possible. It is prejudice and illogic that keeps that from happening. That is what is being objected to.

      The bigger concern, you ask when it becomes a moral issue? It becomes a moral issue when study after study shows that minority children are psychologically damaged by watching American TV. I don’t exactly see the small children of India going “oh no! Alia Bhatt got that role instead of Kangana! My self-esteem is shot and I am subtly less confident in a way that will cause failure in school and play into a cycle of abuse and oppression!” The concern with American popular culture isn’t so much that talented performers are losing roles (although there is that too), but that the false pictures we are seeing onscreen are playing into a false view of reality in the audience.

      I remember that Kangana issue! At first I was more with the writer, because it sounded like Kangana was asking for credit for something that was no more than what a star would normally do, giving suggestions on the script. But then Kangana explained that she knew what is “normal” and this was more than that. And that other writer told such a similar story, plus I remember hearing about that other story at the time, so now I am withholding judgement entirely.

      Like

  13. Pingback: New Youtube Video! Nepotism, Aayush Sharma, Salman Khan, and Karan Johar | dontcallitbollywood

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s