Discussion Post: Inside Insiders, Versus Outside Insiders, Versus Outside Outsiders, or Ranbir Versus Ranveer Versus Ayushmann

Thank you FilmiKudhi for the idea! I suspect/hope this will turn into a heated discussion simply because when we have had similar debates in the comments, it has always gotten heated. So, prepare to battle!

A common terminology in Hindi film coverage is “insider” versus “outsider”. As in, “Shahrukh made it as an outsider” or “Ananya Panday only got her role because she is an insider”.

The problem with this is, between the two extremes, there is the “outsider insider”. That would be Ranveer Singh, who has no close industry connections but is distantly related to film industry people and (more importantly I think) grew up in Bandra where the film community is centered and went to school and parties with all the movers and shakers. I don’t want to say he made it as an “outsider”, because it wasn’t like he was struggling to get those first auditions. But I also don’t want to say he made it as an “insider” because it wasn’t like his family produced his launch movie for him.

So, I have three categories! Insider Insider, Outside Insider, and Outside Outsider.

I’m gonna start by throwing some names out for each category, you can disagree with them, bring up more names for your categories in the comments, ask me what I would do with other people, ask me who some of these people are because you have never heard of them, or however you want to leap off from this:

Inside Insider (not to say some of these haven’t earned their spot with talent and hardwork, but they were definitely born and raised on film sets)

Ranbir Kapoor

Uday Chopra

Alia Bhatt

Ananya Panday

Jhanvi Kapoor

Arjun Kapoor

Rani Mukherjee

Kajol

Aamir Khan

Salman Khan

Rishi Kapoor

Imran Khan

Aditya Roy Kapoor

Saif Ali Khan

Vicky Kaushal

Ajay Devgan

Outside Insider (not born and raised on film sets, but born and raised close to people who were born and raised on film sets)

Shahid Kapoor

Ranveer Singh

Akshay Kumar

Kiara Advani

Bhumi Pednakar

Parineeti Chopra

Karan Johar

Outside Outsider (may have been raised rich or at least upper middle class, may have loads of social power, but truly no film connections before they started)

Radhike Apte

Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Irrfan Khan

Amrita Singh

Shahrukh Khan

Ayushmann Khurrana

Rajkumar Rao

Deepika Padukone

And some fun ones for you to puzzle over where to put them:

Katrina Kaif: not born into a film family, or even close to a film family, for sure. But dating Salman at the time she was cast in her first film. Inside Insider, Outside Insider, or Outside Outsider?

Karisma Kapoor: Born into a super film family, but thrown out of the house and given no support at the time she started acting. Inside Insider, Outside Insider, or Outside Outsider?

Dulquer Salmaan: Born into the most powerful family in Malayalam cinema, but does that make him an Inside Insider, an Outside Insider, or an Outside Outsider in Hindi cinema?

52 thoughts on “Discussion Post: Inside Insiders, Versus Outside Insiders, Versus Outside Outsiders, or Ranbir Versus Ranveer Versus Ayushmann

  1. Thanks for the shoutout! Hmmm . . . the only one I really disagree with it Amrita Singh. She is definitely to me an outside insider at the very least. His is a wiki link to her https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rukhsana_Sultana. To me, Amrita falls in the same catagory as Ranveer and Kiara.

    The others I am not sure what to think of are Ajay and Vicky. So they both technically “grew” up on the film sets but to me their parents had about as much inluance as Shahid’s dad. To me, Pankaj maybe even had a bit more pull since he was an actor. Do we need a fourth catagory for these people?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Inside Outsider? The ones who grew up on set and knowing the industry but had no power? That might also fit Karisma, since she knew the industry but had no power backing her at the time she was launched.

      Only if you bring in that category, then you have people like Ananya Panday or Alia Bhatt claiming that status, since their family wasn’t super rich and powerful, even if they were part of the industry.

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      • I like the catagory but do not like the thought of Alia and Ananya claiming that category. Hmmm. I’m at a loss.

        Also, honestly curious why you think Amrita falls into the outsider outsider catagory. Always enjoy hearing your insight and thought process.

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        • I was thinking of outsider-outsider as largely geographic. If you are rich and powerful and live in Bandra, that might make you an Outside Insider. But Amrita was off in Delhi, how much interaction would she have had with the Bombay movers and shakers? Same with Radhike, it seems like her family was more than comfortably off, and if she had lived in Bombay, she probably would have gone to school with the “right” people. But she was in Pune, so different social circle.

          On Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 3:35 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Got it. Makes sense. I guess I was looking at it slightely differently. To me, Radhika’s parents were doctors in Pune, so while they were very well off (to my knowledge) they didn’t really have any filmi connections. So based on that, I can see why she is an Outsider Outsider. Where as Amrita’s mom was constantly back and forth from between Delhi and Mumbai with Amrita would often accompany her when she wasn’t in school (from what I remember reading this in a very very old Filmfare magazine) So, she grew up knowing filmi people and going to filmi parties then followed her mom’s footsteps and became a model in her teens and eventually had her launch with Sunny. So, to me, just a combination of all those things made her Outside Insider.

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          • Okay, now I would agree with you. I didn’t know Amrita’s childhood was Delhi-Bombay, not just Bombay, On the other hand, I would say Amitabh was an Outsider Outsider, would you agree? Even if he had literally the Highest Possible connections in Indian government in Delhi, he had nothing to help him in Bombay.

            On Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 4:08 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Completely agree. I think Amitabh is an Outsider Outsider! And it is even more evident because he didn’t get a big launch and stuggled for many many years before becoming The Amitabh!

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          • Oh, and Ayushmann! He would be another one. It sounds like he was deep in the theater scene in Delhi, but once you come to Bombay, what good is that to you?

            On Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 4:12 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Yeah exactly!

            To me, Radhika, Ayushmann, and weirdly ARK all have that odd trajectory to films. Theater, dance, DJ, VJ, journalism, radio etc where they got their feet wet in various artistic mediums and then found footing in cinema.

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          • Don’t forget Vidya Balan and her weird weird career! I just find it fascinating how totally her current career version erases the previous one. Like Shahid, who she dated, which no one remembers about either of them because it is such a strange thing to think about now.

            On Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 4:27 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • OMG, yes, Vidya Balan! You should totally do a 101 on her. I remember when she dated Shahid for a hot second during Kismet Konnection. Oh, speaking of that movie, do you think she did it as a bit of a sly dig because she was once considered bad luck? As if to say, screw you people who ever thought I was bad luck, I am a frickin lucky charm!

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          • I hadn’t thought about Kismet Konnection like that before, but now I will!

            On Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 5:46 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I just read through my posts on my computer and good god the typos!!! One must really not have such in-depth discussions on such important topics by typing into a tiny phone! Please excuse my asinine errors.

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          • You do the same for me all the time! And anyway, your comments made total sense to me and I didn’t even notice any errors.

            On Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 10:18 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Ready to have your mind blown? Vidya started as one of the daughters in “Hum Paanch”, India’s first major hit family sitcom of the satellite era. Think wacky gags and stupid plots. It ran for 4 years. Here is the description of Vidya’s character: ” Radhika is intelligent, nerdy and geeky. She uses a hearing aid and has a habit of bumping into doors, walls, statues, people, etc.”

            It would be like if Raven-Symone and Meryl Streep were somehow the same person. Or I guess what Sally Field actually is.

            On Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 4:59 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Per your discussion of the choices that rich kids have vs poor kids: I think there is the category of Far outsider: someone who grew up poor, outside the industry, no connections and made it anyway. Radhika had choices and while she didn’t have connections, she also didn’t have to worry about starving or working double shifts etc.

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    • Very good point. Some of the older actors like Shah Rukh and Jackie Shrof falls in that catagory but is there anyone in the recent batch that would fit the criteria? I honestly can’t think of anyone. The closest I can come up with are Karthik, Kriti, and Sid in so much that they came from very average middle class families but none of them were ever going to starve. They would have likely had to go back home and find a more traditional job.

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      • Viineet Kumar (Mukkabaaz, Gold) – says he has struggled for 16 years, doing some small jobs, not having a place to stay (he hide in medical college) and counting rotis so he could afford bus tickets.

        Pankaj Tripathi comes from a village in Bihar, and his father was a farmer and a priest.

        Liked by 1 person

    • My guess would be that the new reality of the industry that requires English speaking, western clothes, and so on creates an almost insurmountable barrier to the Far Outsider. The closest person I can think of fitting your description is maybe Katrina Kaif. She had a weird background and I suspect did have times when she was on the street. But because she is from the West originally, she has the English and western clothes without needing to be rich to get them.

      But then I am probably forgetting someone obvious.

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      • I was thinking about Nawaz for this category: he seems to have grown up maybe middle class (he’s got a college degree) but in a really remote and rural area; never thought about being an actor until he was wandering around Delhi?

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        • So far as I can tell, yes. Although he already had a good job in Delhi when he went to NSD. So he already had the basics like language skills and ability to navigate an urban setting.

          I forgot until I reposted my other post, but Ileana might have fit into that category too. Her parents were a love marriage who eloped, her mother worked in housekeeping at a hotel which (I suspect) is how she became so fluent in English and polished seeming.

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  3. To me it is simply two categories- those who have access v/s those who don’t. For a true outsider,the struggle starts with having to find a place to live in Mumbai & it reminds me of SRK having to live at someone’s house in his struggling days. The whole exercise that Priyanka Chopra’s character goes through in Fashion would be the full fledged outsider struggle that Katrina(just an example) might have gone through before catching Salman’s attention. Compare this with a Jhanhvi or Ananya who grows up being groomed and partying with the godfathers of the industry. For them it’s simple a qn of who will launch them or which will be their launch film v/s if they will ever be launched. So while Ajay,Vicky and Shahid may not be from big influential families,they too had access to people.They could get those first opportunities without breaking much of a sweat.Ranveer definitely had access to Anil Kapoor but I don’t know if that helped/would have helped him in landing any opportunities unlike Anil’s own son who had two mediocre performances in his first two movies but would still get opportunities. I don’t think Ranveer would have survived if his initial performances were not good. He would have become a male Vani Kapoor of YRF. I think the class divide, especially in today’s time ,is a huge barrier to overcome in Bollywood and for someone not part of that elitist culture,it is a tough thing to break-in & sustain.

    That DQ had to act in movies like Karwaan and Zoya Factor in Hindi is proof that his father’s clout isn’t helping him in Hindi.

    Liked by 1 person

    • With your “access” rule, where would you put someone like Amrita Singh, Amitabh, or Sharmila Tagore? Ones who came from very important powerful backgrounds, but not film backgrounds?

      Those are the ones who trip me up, because in a larger sense they have access to everyone in India. But they don’t have close connections or access necessarily with the Hindi film industry in particular. I don’t know what to do with them myself.

      On Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 9:59 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I think the rules change with time also? What is working now probably wasn’t how it worked earlier or probably isn’t how it will work in the future? I don’t know enough about the 70s to comment on these three. But the way Amitabh was rejected initially and then came up via supporting roles,I think he maybe an outsider outsider? The worlds of movies and literature was probably less connected then,so I doubt influence in one field helped in others.

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        • Now I am trying to think of a similar person today. Maybe Ranveer is as close as I can come? Rich, has all those privilages, but not at the level of being able to knock on a door and say “okay, launch me now”.

          On Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 10:18 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I think there are a lot of people with money and Bollywood dreams in Mumbai. Kiara Advani is also rich but still she had to go through side roles like Kalank and wait to be taken under Karan Johar’s camp to be taken seriously. And two films flopping would put her back to where she started.I would definitely consider her as more struggling than say Janhvi(what’s her spelling really!)or Ananya.

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          • I have given up on Jhanvi! Someday I will meet her in person and ask her how to spell it, until then I am going to go with Jhanvi because it’s normal.

            Good point about a flop film putting you back tot he start, I like that as a dividing line. Although by that rule, Vicky would be an outsider too. And so would Shahid, without the Kareena relationship.

            On Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 10:32 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Agree about Vicky. And I guess the National Award is a kind of trick to avoid that backwards slide? He has now created the perception that he is a bankable actor and not one among the many.So few flops won’t question his caliber anymore?
            Shahid-Kareena in retrospective looks that way but I think the previous decade was little less calculative than today.

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          • I’ll be curious to see what happens with Vicky. Raazi and Uri were such big hits and big roles, it felt like they shot him to the top immediately. But without the strong connections, and the personal fame (I can’t remember seeing stories about him dating people or arriving at the airport or stuff), I’ll be curious if it lasts past his first flop.

            On Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 10:46 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • If you pronounce Janhvi’s name the way it is written in Hindi (or many other Indian languages) the spelling she uses in English makes total sense. Jhanvi is a totally different combination of sounds and means nothing and is definitely not “normal”. Along those same lines, I always wonder why you write Radhike instead of Radhika?

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          • I’m a little bit dyslexic. I can’t sound words out, when I write words it is based on memorizing the way I have seen them written before. If I’ve seen “Jhan” in other contexts more than “Janh”, that is what will stick. Not sure what it is about Radhike, but somehow it got stuck in my head wrong and now I have a hard time with it. Maybe because her last name ends with an “e”? I’m really not trying to be offensive or anything, but it is literally impossible for me to spell these names correctly unless I stop every time I type them and triple check.

            On Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 9:19 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Janhvi is written as जाह्नवी in Hindi while Jhanvi is झानवी. I don’t know if you can read Hindi, but I am sure even a non reader can tell that those two words look very different except for the वी (vi) part at the end.

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  4. I think a lot of people have been confused about Kiara’s film connections, so let me get this straight:

    Kiara is actor Saeed Jaffrey’s great-niece (her maternal grandfather Hameed Jaffrey is Saeed’s brother- so there’s a blood relation).

    Hameed married twice. First marriage was to a European woman, and the union resulted in the birth of Kiara’s mum Genevieve. Second marriage was to an industry kid (do we use the term for children of film people who never entered the industry?)- Bharti Kumar, daughter of actor Ashok Kumar. So there’s a somewhat distant connection by marriage.

    Contrary to what people say, Kiara and Juhi are not related by blood or marriage. Juhi is a longtime friend of Kiara’s parents, and Kiara grew up calling her “aunty Juhi”. I suppose Juhi returned the favour by calling her “niece”.

    And the minutiae of Ranveer’s exact relation to Sonam keep changing- they’re second cousins (that much is established), but the answer to “which of their grandparents were siblings?” seems to change over the years. I’m going with with Ranveer’s paternal granddad and Sonam’s maternal granddad being brothers, based solely on the fact that the full name of Ranveer’s dad is Jagjit Singh Bhavnani and Sunita’s maiden name is Bhavnani- unless there’s something about Indian naming systems I’m missing out on.

    But yeah, I’d safely class those two as “Outside Insiders.” Interesting that you put Shahid in that category, too, despite having two parents who are/were part of Bollywood. I’ve seen your reasoning and I think it’s solid, but I’m interested in your opinion on which groups his three half-siblings would fall under. We know Ishaan, but I believe Sanah Kapur (Pankaj and Supriya’s daughter), while primarily a TV actress, had a bit part in Shaandaar.

    Re: Amita Singh- Her great-aunt was Begum Para, a fairly well-known yesteryear actress whose last role was in SLB’s Saawariya. I’d classify her as an Outside Insider, at the very least.

    And there’s a whole discussion to to be had about actors/directors/etc who are related to influential people who are in the film business: Deepika (daughter or an renowned tennis player), Riteish Deshmukh and Bhumi Pednekar (both children of politician, though Bhumi kept mum about this for a long, long time). And what about people who come from prominent acting families in non-Hindi industries- does Konkona fall into this category? I know Aparna Sen did her fair share of Hindi movies back in the day, but people only seem to remember her Bengali/directing work nowadays. DQ is more concrete example, and I could also point to Riddhi Sen (the kid who played Kajol’s son in Helicopter Eela)- his father is an accomplished actor across Bengali theatre and film circles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All excellent points! I’m pretty sure Ranveer’s mother and Sonam’s mother are cousins, children of brothers, but I could have that wrong.

      Kiara, beyond her family connections, grew up in the “right” circles in Bombay. And Salman Khan launched and mentored her after her father asked him to. I found an old interview that said most people assume the connection was because Salman used to date her aunt, but actually her father and Salman grew up together. Really, just living in Bandra/Juhu and going to the right schools seems to give you a massive leg up in the industry!

      On Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 5:56 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • I don’t like Kangana for many concrete reasons, if I were to write about her I would need to bring those up and it would cause controversy, so I would prefer not to.

      On Thu, Dec 5, 2019 at 8:20 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Anyway, Kangana’s back story keeps changing, so don’t touch it. Text books can be written and but her and her sister. I think this is really interesting to think about. The whole notion of access. My daughter who herself had access to good degrees, good internships etc. is an executive now. She says when she sees the resume of someone who had fancy internships, she thinks privilege and when she sees someone who worked as as lifeguard or in a store in the summer, she thinks hard worker. I feel a bit like that about all the privilege we’ve been discussing. Access is more important than money. If someone will take your call you are half way there. Being the daughter of a famous badmittan player (not tennis) got Deepika her first modeling jobs (and being drop dead gorgeous of course) The rest she had to do. But as we see in Luck by Chance, getting someone to even look at you is hard. To be truely an outsider in my mind, you need to be: not wealthy growing up, either not from Bombay or from the “wrong part of town”, no friends relatives, in high places of any kind. That leaves very few real outsiders.

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    • What an interesting comment! And yes, Kangana’s back story is a nightmare to untangle. I like your idea of text books written on her, I am sure there is a psychologist/sociologist somewhere who’s exact expertise is here and they would love to try to untangle it. But it’s too much for me, when I came close I got a lot of angry twitter feedback.

      Thank you for talking about your daughter’s experience! One thing that strikes me every time people talk about either nepotism or “MeToo” in the entertainment industry is that it isn’t an entertainment industry problem. I just heard a story second hand about a tenured professor who had an affair with his grad student, his wife left him, his girlfriend broke up with him, he is now homeless and pressuring other grad students to let him stay with them. And of course, the university is doing nothing and it has had no effect on his career and his grad students can’t do anything about it (either the one he had the affair with, or the others who are now being pressured to take care of him post-divorce) because he has total control of their future. “Nepotism” in the Hindi film industry is so much less damaging than “nepotism” in every other aspect of Indian life, but because it is famous people and we feel “better” than them, we can easily judge and demand fixes and so on. In the same way that I am sure many of the people jumping on “MeToo” internet feeds, in real life look the other way as all kinds of things happen in their own real world professions.

      Moving on (although I find this fascinating and could talk on and on about how the entertainment world is held to a higher standard while seemingly being held to a lower standard), your definition of “access” would make Sushant Rajput, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rajkummar Rao, Sid M., and plenty of others in the “no access” level. They weren’t going to starve, they came from good families and had solid degrees, but they new absolutely no one in the film industry when they started out and they had to crawl there way in.

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  6. Just about all the Panipat reviews I have read so far seem to be commending Kriti’s performance and the portrayal of her character in the movie! Yay! That makes me so happy. I so want to see her succeed, especially as an Outsider Outsider.

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    • Yaaaay!

      Question, if I can only see one of them (if that), do you think I should try to see Panipat or Enai Noki Paayum Thota?

      On Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 8:55 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Hmmm… ENPT will likely have a happy ending and you like happy endings so maybe that? I think you like both directors equally and the main actor and actress in both movies are equally adorable. Maybe you can do a quick spoiler review of Panipat when it becomes streaming? That request is just for selfish reasons because I would love to read your review before watching it.

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        • There’s also the consideration that ENPT will only be in theaters for two more days, and I probably will be able to watch Panipat for the next few weeks if I wanted to. Hmm.

          On Fri, Dec 6, 2019 at 9:11 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. Katrina – I’m still going with Outside Outsider. Dating Salman probably didn’t help her get cast.

    Karisma – I still say Inside Insider. The Kapoor name probably got her so many places. And she easily could have mentioned who her family is at auditions and stuff, even while doing all the work herself. I don’t really care about her that much, so I don’t know her story or her personality if she would do something somewhat sly like that.

    Dulquer – Outside Insider maybe? Still being born into some kind of film family probably gave him the tools to work the system to his advantage.

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    • Karisma, quick backstory: Born into the Kapoor family, her mother was a minor popular actress who retired at marriage because Kapoor Women Don’t Act. She separated from Karisma’s father in 1988 when Karisma was 14. 2 years later at 16, Karisma was put out to work. She averaged 5 to 10 films a year between the ages of 16 and 26 when Kareena was finally launched. Stories abound of her, for instance, calling her mother in tears from a set because she was so tired and just couldn’t do it any more, for her mother to respond “shut up and stop complaining” and hang up the phone. Karisma’s money clearly paid for Kareena’s boarding schools and so on and allowed her to have a semi-normal childhood, along with paying the rent and buying food for their mother. The Kapoors cut them off so much at this point that, according to gossip, when Karisma was engaged to Abhishek Bachchan, her Kapoor family put pressure on the Bachchan’s to break the engagement which lead to Karisma being jilted last minute, rebounding with a Delhi industrialist who sounds like a piece of trash, she tried to leave him right after their first child was born but he dragged her back by trying to take custody of the baby. Really, born under an unlucky star.

      Here’s a couple photos of her from back when she started acting:

      On Sat, Dec 7, 2019 at 4:58 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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