Thinky Post: “Nepotism” and How a Harmless Word Turns Into a Weapon of Hate Speech

I decided in the past few months that I would no longer casually use the word “nepotism” or accept it’s usage in comments on this blog. You didn’t notice, because you all must have made the same decision consciously or unconsciously, somehow it just became a term we did not use any more. But I feel like that isn’t enough. Being passive is being complicit, I want to open up the argument to why and how this word is used as a weapon.

Nepotism, it’s a concept that is specific, it means giving advantages to people you are related to. Someone says “why is this idiot the head of the marketing department?” and the response is “didn’t you know? He’s the nephew of the founder of the company, it’s nepotism.” Or on the nastier side of things, “I should have gotten that promotion, the only reason he was promoted above me is because his wife is the cousin of the boss, it’s nepotism”.

Rani Mukerji - Wikipedia
Rani Mukherjee, not a super talented actor who made her way in a highly competitive industry. Clearly got ahead through nepotism, first her father and then her husband. Women, right? They only succeed through their connections to men, never on their own, it’s always nepotism. Whether it’s Rani Mukherjee, or Devika Rani, or Mary Pickford.

3 years ago in 2017, Kangana Ranaut went on the Koffee With Karan talk show and called Karan Johar the “flagwaver for nepotism”. This was part of a larger complaint she aired against him for, for instance, telling Aditya Chopra not to hire her for a film. The term “nepotism” caught fire and suddenly it was everywhere in complaints about the film industry.

Personally, as someone who had seriously studied the Hindi film industry for over a decade this complaint was never valid to me. It’s an industry made up of small family businesses, it is an industry that exists in a fragile extra-legal position, it is designed to run based on personal relationships not some objective merit based perfection. You hire people you like working with, because that is your prerogative as an independent business owner, and because your business is in a fragile state and you don’t want to take risks. There is nothing illegal or even immoral in this practice. Most of all, how is it our business?????

There was a comment about Hitler I heard years and years ago in a history class which is the only explanation I can find for how the “nepotism” debate became a thing. Hitler was very good at finding and recognizing the darkness inside people, calling it forth. When he gave a speech, he would listen for the big response, and then switch and keep repeating over and over again the theory that got the biggest response. That is what Kangana did with “nepotism”. Kangana made one casual comment on a TV show and it took off, worked better for her than her previous positions as a feminist or whatever else. And then it started working for anyone who chose to use it. Suddenly the word “nepotism” had acquired a new meaning in the Hindi film world. And the agents who don’t like the Hindi film industry and all it stands for (freedom of speech, interreligious marriages, breaking class/caste barriers, serving the lower classes) discovered this is something it would pay them to push.

Koffee With Karan 5: Karan Johar Once Made Fun Of Kangana Ranaut's English.  She Hasn't Forgotten - NDTV Movies

There’s a particular group of people who feel that if the world were right and just, he would be better off than he is. “Immigrants” and “Muslims” were a good target for that hate, get rid of them and India will become a fair society where the Hindu man gets what he deserves. But “nepotism” opens up a whole new alleyway of hate. Using that magic word as a gate, you can let in anger against the upper classes, the liberals, the educated folks, the ones who have succeeded where you have failed in any way.

It only works of course because there is a kernel of truth to it. Nepotism exists everywhere in the world, I am not even willing to say it is more prevalent in India than in other places. Unemployment and poverty are more prevalent in India, which makes nepotism more aggravating, but that doesn’t mean it is more common. Yes, absolutely, it is harder to get a job in your chosen field if you don’t have a relative (or close family friend) who is connected there already. Yes, absolutely, people who are born into connections use them without thinking and without being properly grateful for their advantages. Yes, absolutely, the best man for the job is not usually given the job, usually it goes to someone with less skills and education who knows the right people. And when the unemployment rate is high, and jobs are few, and there is no social safety net, suddenly the owner’s cousin being given the job instead of you can really really burn.

J.B. Alberto's Pizza in Rogers Park - Chicago Tribune
This is the pizza place where my Dad supported himself as a delivery driver for a year after he graduated law school. He applied for government lawyer jobs over and over and was asked “who sent you?” and then told “I don’t want nobody nobody sent”. It’s not unique to India, needing connections to get a job. Being able to get a pizza delivery job with a law degree and not being ashamed of it, that may not be true in India, I don’t know.

So we have all these angry people resentful of not getting work. And suddenly that anger is harnessed and directed towards vulnerable celebrities. Celebrities who, coincidentally, are the most visible and beloved representatives of a liberal inclusive accepting Indian society.

Going back to 2017, at first Kangana’s remark was kind of a joke. Not that she meant it as a joke (I don’t think she is capable of humor), but that it was treated as a sort of silly back and forth between celebrities. Karan responded, in a private event, treating it as the silly thing it was, and his remarks were secretly recorded and spread around. But then, slowly, it started to grow. Mostly through online discussions.

The new hate speech! Modern and technical, paid armies of online drones pushing a particular agenda, unpaid armies of bored fans being following the lead of their idols. And media hacks who are quick to see which way the wind is blowing and jump on the “hate” bandwagon. Through pushing and pushing, suddenly “nepotism” became a thing you couldn’t ignore, everyone had to talk about it and have an opinion on it.

At this point, the talking about nepotism didn’t feel like hate speech. Simply acknowledging it as the issue of the day, giving opinions, listening to each other, that was productive. Would have been a lot more productive to talk about Islamophobia or misogyny, the falling box office, the death of the single screens, and the massive rising Classism in the Indian film audience. But Nepotism was an okay thing to talk about too. People gave their opinions, I gave mine (“it’s not a problem!!!!!”), we had productive discussions here and elsewhere. And victims of nepotism spoke out a bit too, actors who had lost out on jobs at the last minute because someone with a bigger family name became available.

But increasingly those calm discussions have vanished. Perhaps simply because there is nothing more to say. The regular reasonable folks are mostly tired of the conversation, it should be dying a natural death at this point. But instead it is still going, and all that is keeping it going right now is Hate.

Who are the victims of the “Nepotism” attacks? Religious minorities, those who speak out for liberals, Queer people, young women (over and over again young women, because women can only succeed with the help of men). Who are never accused of “nepotism” despite being just as qualified for that attack? Young Hindu men who toe the party line. It’s hate speech, pure and simple.

Ranbir Kapoor, and Not Ranveer Singh, to Star in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's  Baiju Bawra Remake?
How is Ranveer Singh accused of nepotism, and Ranbir is not? Is it, just maybe, because Ranveer is close to the liberal film crowd, and is married to an outspoken modern woman, and in his own outrageous way can be plenty liberal? While Ranbir is silent, holds himself apart, is available as a nice young Hindu man if you want to paint him that way?

There are two reasons that “nepotism” as it has been defined in this conversation (giving work to old friends and relatives of old friends) spreads in a community. The first is to keep power within the grasp of those who have it. The second is to protect the small amount of power an oppressed people have managed to posess. The Hindi film industry is NOT made up of super powerful people from powerful families. It is made up of powerless people who founded a community in desperation and are trying to keep it safe.

Karan Johar is the biggest victim of the “Nepotism” attacks. I will no longer accept any argument that it is because he is sinning. It is clearly because he is sinned against. He is India’s most public gay man, he has a big target painted on his chest, and “nepotism” is what people are using to hit him. He has almost no family, just two cousins, his mother, and his children. He made his way in the world thanks to his talent, and his friendships. Now, today, he is paying that forward over and over again by mentoring young talented people. Most of the people he mentors are as unconnected as he is. Young gay men who could not be out and happy and themselves in any other industry in India. Young women who want a career without the constant threat of sexual harassment. People from families full of religious intermarriages, of outspoken liberal statements, of divorce, of all the things that mainstream India declares anathema. And simply talented people who deserve a chance to share their talent.

Varun Dhawan and director Shashank Khaitan to reunite for Karan Johar's  'Rannbhoomi'
Here’s Varun Dhawan, full of “nepotism” and “evil”, with Karan. But you know who the third guy is? A total outsider who sent in a spec script to Dharma, one of the few studios that even takes and reads spec scripts, and was rewarded with years of personal mentorship by Karan Johar purely because of his talent. That is as merit based as it gets, and as generous as it gets.

You think Karan has too much power? Fine, you be a gay man in India. You struggle with depression and suicide. You watch your father die before you are 25. You put your heart and soul into your work and then deal with boycotts and anger. You post photos of your adorable children on instagram, only to have them vandalized with comments telling you to die. Sure he helps his friends, because he is a SAINT. Here is a man who has gotten hate given to him all day every day, and he turns around and gives back love.

These are people! Human people! They care for each other, they care about each other, they support each other day after day after day. And their greatest virtue has been turned into their greatest sin, because it is the only way to defeat them. Separate, destroy, conquer.

42 thoughts on “Thinky Post: “Nepotism” and How a Harmless Word Turns Into a Weapon of Hate Speech

  1. I don’t agree with people on either side of the debate.Arguably there is some advantage of being born to famous parents,like anywhere else.But it doesn’t mean someone is standing there with a spear blocking your way.It is a system,a perception,just an internalized entity that manifests itself occasionally and we cannot blame a person for it.The audience has always been ignorant of talent,and now a nasty fraction of it is crossing too many lines.How many people watched Masaan or Lootera before debating,or should I say virtue signalling on oustsiders versus insiders?The public just believes in blind destruction instead of a constructive approach.
    And I do find it weird that not one person spoke against Ranbir.I mean,I really don’t want him to be bullied but it is strange it happens to someone else while he is so much more in your face.Sanju was the nail in the head for me.He acted well,but couldn’t they cast someone older?Besides I despise the whitewash approach of the movie.
    And this madness is going to subside,I hope.People stop supporting you when you try to lock horns with senior members(By seniors,I mean those artists with more years of working experience than my age)of the industry,and it is happening right now.We should hardly be surprised at the state of the blindfolded public because SOTY and Manikarnika did better than The Lunchbox and Panga.When public fails to separate the art from the artist and begins to judge the content by the perceived notion(emphasis on perceived,nothing is black and white)of the creator,quality goes down.Blaming someone instead of introspection appalls me.Hope people understand that,but who are we judge people and their “opinions” in the name of online bullying.
    My sentences might be incoherent because I didn’t want to take names,but you clearly understand the references as we are on the same page.It is rather sad to see that the Television fraternity of India reacted in a much more civil and unbiased way in the entire scheme of events.Many TV actors spoke up about their struggles without abusing anyone but why would the media give focus to the constructive debates.
    I really didn’t want to throw shade on one person,but I find it ironic that a person who mentions about National Film Awards in every single speech once criticized Shabana Azmi for nepotism who has like,five of them(she had a hattrick 1983-85,I wonder if the self proclaimed outspoken superstar can top that).

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    • Excellent comment, just to add on to what you mentioned about folks speaking up, Patralekha and Taapsee Pannu both gave very intelligent comments on how their lack of connections have affected their careers. Neither of them called anyone out in particular, I think Taapsee even mentioned that it was a symptom of her own retiring personality. There’s a difference between what you mention, someone with a spear blocking your path, and simple luck combined with a talent for making friends. Some people are good at a party, good at being liked, good at networking and maintaining connections, and some aren’t. And that is going to affect your career path no matter what industry you work in.

      On Fri, Sep 4, 2020 at 1:52 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. I am so glad to finally have an idea of how Kangana came to in involved in the “anti-nepotism” group because it made literally no sense to me.

    It’s one of those things where what many people actually want to adress is social inequality and corruption, but instead end up supporting existing power structures that keep those things in place.

    I think censorship and political influence on movies and public discourse are greater threats than nepotism but that’s just me!

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    • You are more generous than me. I don’t think people want to address social inequality. I think they want to express frustration and find a way to feel superior to the new money/no rules Hindi film crowd and so they have found a handy excuse.

      What I do think is sincere is a desire for better films in general and an awareness that nepotism can sometimes make movies not the best they can be. We’ve talked about that here loads, how if some actor or actress or writer or director was replaced in a particular film, it could have been a better movie. But there is only so far that kind of conversation can go, and it seems like the larger conversation has turned towards “nepotism in Hindi film is a moral evil”.

      On Fri, Sep 4, 2020 at 2:17 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Well, I mean only in so far as they are personally experiencing something bad, but don’t know why, so they latch onto any explanation or solution. These aren’t social activists.

        I have a lot of problems with nepotism in film but unless there is space for progressive voices, the bad parts of it can’t be addressed, and censorship and the kind of political influence that is fanning the “anti nepotism” flame keep those voices down.

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  3. I really admire you for putting out a coherent post about this. Just thinking about the issue makes me go nuts..
    It’s like people are over and over fed a line and they just internalize it. And the most interesting thing is the actors who are not accused of nepotism.
    In twitter, Sanjay Gupta, a low-key director shared a collage of the non nepotism actors and included vivek oberoi in it. When someone pointed that out , social media came in defense of Vivek , telling how he worked hard…
    In another well liked post , nepotism is being accused of the killing Neil Nithin Mukeshs career of all things..
    Even the popular narrative of nepotism and SSRs death is contradictory as the movies that were supposed to go him went to Ranveer Singh. Somehow so called Karan-Aditya gang favoring Ranveer over SSR is nepotism even when both of them has equally nil ties..(P.S. I have no idea what happened with SSR and don’t support framing and spreading theories.. Just posted this one here to show it’s illogicality)
    But then logic is not a strong suit to an angry right-wing mob…

    What more, Tapasee was a poster child for anti nepotism crowd until she asked people not to Harass Rhea Chakravarthi and trust in the country’s law..🙄🙄

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    • Just to add to the frustrating illogic of it, the “nepotism” debate which is really about blaming Karan and Adi for not reaching outside their friend group ignores that friendship doesn’t actually define who they cast in things. Both Adi and Karan have produced tons of stuff featuring non-friends, they just don’t choose to hang out with those people after work. If it’s purely about being offered work, Karan and Adi give jobs to loads of folks they aren’t particularly close to, along with giving to people they are friends with.

      On Fri, Sep 4, 2020 at 3:27 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I think people’s problems with nepotism isn’t actually nepotism as much as it is groupism. Note, when I say people, I’m actually referring to neutral Hindi film watchers. See, talent always prevails. I’m going to use Arjun Kapoor as an example. If we can be as objective as possible, we can see that most people don’t think of him as that great of an actor. So, he’s not really making waves at box office. It’s harsh, but in a way we can say that audiences have “rejected him.” However, we have star kids that are very talented. The two most popular ones are Alia and Ranbir, so I’m going to use them. They get many high profile roles, and deservedly so. But how did they get these roles. Groupism. The problem is not with them being star kids, but with producers and directors restricting themselves to casting star kids. I mean, people weren’t that impressed with Alia in SOTY and Sawaariyaa flopped. So, when I see a performances like the ones in Rockstar or Highway, I don’t say an outsider could have done better. However, I don’t forget that these performances came from getting chances on the basis on your lineage. Obviously there have been many successful outsiders, but a lot of them came from small to medium sized roles in small or medium sized films. Star Kids come from lead or significant supporting roles in big budget to high-end medium roles. I feel that if people were to just audition actors, this problem would be solved. However, this word has become far too abusive, and people use it illogically. I mean 2 brilliant actors, Radhika Apte and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, have done many films with Netflix India. Would that be considered nepotism? Is simply working with Karan Johar considered nepotism? Kangana’s siblings run her production company. Isn’t that nepotism?

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    • Exactly! Your description of the situation is what I think it really is. Connections, through birth or friendship or otherwise, can give you multiple chances to prove your talent while unconnected folks only get the one chance.

      But the larger point is, why should we care? Maybe the connected get more chances, but they still fail eventually. There’s loads of star kids who just didn’t have what it takes and disappeared. And there’s loads of unconnected folks who succeeded, either because they were so very talented, or because they were quick to make friends and become connected.

      This is an incredibly minor issue that has almost no effect on the audience experience, and somehow it is dominating the conversation for 3 years running while other much larger issues are forgotten.

      On Fri, Sep 4, 2020 at 11:31 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • It’s a minor issue but it has an effect e. g Alia telling Kalank’s director she will be upset if he won’t give her the role. The effect is she was misscasted and ruined already not good movie. The same with Dear Zindagi, she shouldn’t play this role because she was too young. But the worst thing and what makes people crazy is that she and others later in interviews talk about their struggles and deny the privilege (like Varun comparing his father giving him roles with my father giving me a pencil case)

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        • Sure, okay, I will talk about it for five minutes after one of those interviews releases. But then I want to move on to bigger more important issues, and I certainly don’t want to try to expand the problem to be a moral statement.

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  5. Yeah, the same with feminism. She is called feminist because she made Queen, but have you ever heard about her helping or talking well about other women? Never. She only talks bad about other actresses: Sonam, Deepika, Taapsee, Alia, Mishti…she offended everyone.

    And for nepotism I’m both tired and interested in the circus we witness. Tired of people’s stupidity, but interested when and how it will end. Kangana is on twitter and crazier then ever and already offended Mumbai police and Shiv Sena.

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    • Nepotism seems to be loosing steam a little, but I ams ure there will be another one size fits all hate word to pop up. My money is on “unpatriotic”.

      On Sat, Sep 5, 2020 at 3:31 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. I disagree with some of what you say, Karan Johar is no liberal supporter. I don’t think any one has taken more selfies with Narendra Modi than KJo and Co. All those he has launched or is associated with are Hindus, Vicky Kaushal is in fact the ruling party’s favorite after acting in Uri. It isn’t politics or agents or right wing conservatives who have spoken about it.

    I think the misconception about nepotism is that it isn’t about a parent helping his child by spending money on him/her and launching them, that is absolutely fine, it’s anyway their money to throw. What’s wrong, at least morally or ethically, is outsiders being signed for a film, alloting the dates and then suddenly being replaced at the last minute by a star kid. If you’re promised and given a promotion, only to have it snatched away at the last minute, based only on the lineage of the other person, how would you feel? This is an experience common to many outsiders even an established sucessful actress like Taapsee had to face it with Pati Patni Aur Woh.

    Though the South has nepotism, ie. sons, nephews and grandsons of yesteryear stars, I think their movies are so designed to the nth degree for them that there is no chance of any outsider being offered initially and then losing it. Also, the South doesn’t have a mega bully like Karan Johar whose bile is only for those below him. These may be rumors but what about all those tweets that everyone put out about Bollywood Priviliege Clubs” and Rohini Singh, a journalist who is for the record, left leaning straight up named him. That this mega bully is considered the centre of Bollywood or its public face shows how screwed the industry is.

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    • This is the kind of comment I used to just let slide, but I am no longer comfortable doing that. I shouldn’t let this kind of thinking stay in my community without questioning it. So I am going to take your points one by one.

      Karan started actively allying himself with the ruling party in response to bullying. His movies have received violent boycott threats from the Shiv Sena three times, more than any other producer. It was after he bowed to pressure again with ADHM that he gave up and began allying with the BJP to survive. As for him not being a liberal supporter, think a minute. There is a reason he kept getting boycotts. He produced My Name is Khan about Islamophobia and it almost killed his production company when boycotts threatened its release, he tried to bring Fawad Khan to India, he produced ADHM which was supposed to be a cross-border love story until (again) boycotts threatened the release and he had to make last minute changes. Currently, he is trying to make a movie about the Mughals written by an angry young Indian Muslim writer, but oh wait, that’s not happening because of “nepotism”. Sure, nepotism is more important than getting a story of India’s Muslim past onscreen. He’s not out there speaking his mind about issues, but he’s producing the movies about them. Raazi was just a couple years ago, it was very far from jingoism. I haven’t seen Gunjan Saxena but I’m being told the same about that film. And if Karan was truly in with the in crowd, Gunjan Saxena would not be getting the “unpatriotic” criticism it is receiving. You say he isn’t “liberal” because you are only looking where they want you to look, look at the man’s work, look at his life, not just at the data that is placed before you.

      If I were Taapsee, I would be upset about losing a job. But I am NOT Taapsee. I am the audience who went to see Pati Patni Aur Woh and thought Ananya was well-cast and it was an enjoyable movie. That’s all that is my business, the end result is a good film. If Taapsee lost a job, that’s her business, not mine. I don’t think even Taapsee was that upset about it. If a producer decides a different actress has more name recognition and might be more interesting in the role and changes cast last minute, that’s their prerogative. Why do you care? How is this a crime that requires public outcry?

      You say yourself “these may be rumors” and “what about tweets”. They are rumors and they are tweets. I am a thinking person, I am going to look at facts and statements. Facts are, Karan has a wide group of people he considers friends and he is supportive to all of them, and casts people from within and without his friend group in the movies he produces. Statements are, people consistently saying that he is a loyal and supportive and forgiving to his friends. This is from people who know him, people who have worked with him, not anonymous internet sources. And what I can see with my own eyes is that Karan is not the bully, Karan is the victim of bullying. Taapsee is out there living a happy life saying stuff on social media and working regularly, including often with friends of Karan. Karan Johar has been driven off all social media, cannot get his films produced without a campaign against him, and has been the victim of public open death threats.

      On Sat, Sep 5, 2020 at 6:24 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Taapsee does mind it, she publicly slammed the makers for being unprofessional:

        https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/hindi/bollywood/news/taapsee-pannu-slams-the-makers-of-pati-patni-aur-woh-for-unprofessionalism/articleshow/68138858.cms

        And to add to your statement, yes I’d have accepted if a better actress or bigger star was cast instead, but what makes them choose Ananya, a rank debutante with no box office pull comparable to Taapsee (she had a solo hit Shabana, a film about Muslims saving our country) and nowhere as much talent nor presence gets chosen at the last minute. Add to that, Taapsee was not even properly informed. Would this happen even with a debutant star kid?

        You may have thought Ananya was well cast but a lot of people differed. The most popular and liked comment on its YouTube trailer is “when the Patni is hotter than Woh”.
        The pre eminent critic of India, Baradwaj Rangan had this to write about Ananya:

        “You could argue that Ananya needed to ripen some more in order to tempt Abhinav (the Sanjeev Kumar character, played by Kartik). She looks like a cutie-pie doll that’s just been picked off the shelf. (With her wide-eyed line readings, she acts like one, too)”

        Now this is where I can tell you how powerful Karan Johar and others are. Taapsee in the article expressly talks about nepotism, though that question is never raised. Viral Bhayani put up a post about Taapsee saying she was upset over being replaced by a star kid. But then later, Taapsee retracts her statement and says it was Bhumi who replaced her. Viral’s post gets deleted and PR floods any buzz of Taapsee/Karthik/Bhumi’s casting.

        I said these may be considered rumors but then Anubhav Sinha, who is arguably far more brave than Karan Johar with his movies like Mulk, Article 15, Thappad and his statements tweeted about this “Bollywood Privilege Club” (tweets are public statements):

        Rohini Singh is one of the finest journalists in our country, she has written some of the most powerful pieces about issues like the Ahmedabad ventilator issue and so on. That she has straight up named Karan Johar is proof enough of his misdemeanours. She is no Rajeev Masand who writes blinds and drops hints around, a Rajeev Masand who still gets interviews with Bollywood even after he has received criticism not from the industry, but the public.

        Ha hasn’t just cast friends or people within his friend’s circle in his own films, he has got them plum roles in films he has no aptitude to make through lobbying. Alia’s career and now, Ananya in PPAW is proof of that.

        “Saint” Karan has also written very badly of Kajol, a friend who has been instrumental in helping his career in his autobiography. That too, for no fault of hers when she was criticizing scum like KRK.

        He has allied himself with the ruling party well enough to be awarded the Padma Shri along with Kangana, who is the living embodiment of the BJP IT cell in her tweets. He also is the producer of Canadian patriot’s Kesari.

        Interesting to debate this with you, awaiting your reply.

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        • The Taapsee article you link to is just a summary with no quotes, the headline writer called it “slams” and “nepotism”. I tracked down Taapsee’s actual comments. Her concern was NOT nepotism, it was that she had been told to block dates and dropped at the last minute. No matter the reason, that was the behavior she objected to.

          https://www.indiatoday.in/movies/bollywood/story/taapsee-pannu-on-pati-patni-aur-woh-row-i-told-bhumi-pednekar-it-was-not-her-fault-1469740-2019-03-04

          You say that she retracted and changed her story to claim it was Bhumi’s role, not Ananya’s, that she lost. That is your interpretation. Taapsee never said which role it was, the press assumed it was Ananya’s because it fit the narrative of nepotism. This is something totally different, this is an actress of equal fame and connections replacing another actress for reasons only the producers know in a very unprofessional manner. Taapsee also says that she is still friends with Bhumi, it’s not awkward between them because it was nothing to do with Bhumi, it was the producer’s decision.

          Taapsee also more recently called out the media and the audience, said the industry is not where the problem of nepotism lies, it is with everyone. That I agree with, if the media obsessively covers star kids from birth, then they have bigger name recognition, and producers will want to cast them. Even if the producers may not want to, it’s the logical decision. And follow that up with far more reviews and interviews and media headlines about any lousy film with a star kid in the cast versus a high quality film without a big name:

          https://www.geo.tv/latest/299806-taapsee-pannu-reveals-she-was-replaced-by-a-star-kid-in-pati-patni-aur-woh

          If Rohini says Karan pressures people to cast his friends, then that is what she says and I can choose to believe it or not. I’m not seeing a big expose written up for the world, something that is ready to face down libel laws and editorial opinions, I’m still just seeing tweets. You say tweets are statements, but they aren’t. They can be removed and disappeared if you change your mind, they don’t go through any kind of vetting process, and most of all they have no depth, no length, it is just a bald sentence without support. If someone wants to be real about something, they can write an in depth account or do an in depth interview. As they have, as Taapsee has on nepotism, as others have on other issues.

          Kajol has forgiven him and they are friends again, I don’t see how it is our business to hold against him something the actual person no longer cares about. More over, this was not just Kajol attacking KRK. It was part of a campaign setting Shivaay against ADHM for political reasons and he saw his oldest friend hitting him when he was most vulnerable.

          I am also disturbed by how he has allied himself with the ruling party. However, again, that only happened post the Kangana attacks. Post the ADHM death threats. I’m not seeing him like Akshay or Kangana leaping into the arms of the ultraright, more being driven into them.

          Most of all, I am disturbed by the way half truths and summaries and interpretations are being accepted as Fact. Go back to my first point. The article you used has no quotes, no details, just a summary with the interpretation the author chose. That is the support for this whole Karan Johar witch hunt, not actual quotes and in depth investigations, rumors and half truths.

          On Sat, Sep 5, 2020 at 8:36 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • There is no use arguing here if someone believes nepotism is (“not a problem!!!!!”)and tweets from one of the most credible film critics and activists are disregarded.I wonder how your comment was deemed offensive and the literal vilification of Priyanka(to top it all,a warning “don’t read if this offends you”) wasn’t pointed out in comments in previous posts(“hate her sluttyness,dresses provocatively,man chaser”to quote,among numerous other toxic statements that went unchecked).You are not the only one to find Karan and Company complicitly pro-Government.Emphasis on complicit,as the article mentions it in the first paragraph.If boycott calls by Shivsena are evidences of liberal outlook,then SLB might be the commander in chief of the left in India as his three latest movies were opposed in a very nasty way.He was literally slapped,malls were set to fire,bounties were placed for Padmaavat,so I don’t see what makes Karan liberal.I don’t think anyone made an attempt to set fire to a bus with passengers inside or brandished swords in a news studio over ADHM.Besides didn’t SLB too apologise like KJo.Besides MNIK was not opposed for the content presented by KJo.It was due SRK’s logical statement on IPL that Shivsena twisted to create drama so I don’t think Karan was progressive in anyway.The flak received by GS was unwarranted and wrong,but the content itself wasn’t that radical.Even Mahi was about the captain of Indian Cricket team and so was Bhaag Milkha Bhaag as an Indian athlete,even Mary Kom.But they weren’t obnoxiously jingoist as the story didn’t require them to be.I don’t see anyone appreciating or denouncing them for not being jingoistic,so why should GS deserve any special treatment.Besides Raazi was Meghna and Alia’s show all the way.No need for Dharma to take credit as if they produced it.I don’t see anyone mocking Disney when Jagga Jasoos failed,then why to applaud Dharma for Raazi.Nepotism is everywhere and people cannot be villified for it.But nepotism itself should be condemned.Besides Saint Karan Johar hasn’t used his holy oral orifice to utter any words criticising the government or its policies in the last five,or even ten years.It is blatantly obvious that Kangana is a nasty right-winger,but Karan is no leftwing liberal either.If we blatantly choose who to believe and who not to,and ignore tweets as just something that you can take back,then tomorrow Kangana can pretend that she didn’t say anything nasty or offensive in the past month or so and retract whatever she mouthed on twitter.Question Nepotism and its rampant presence in India,you get questioned back with “if it is everywhere why only target Bollywood”and”it is not their fault if there parents are famous”.People would be offended but it sounds suspiciously like “racism is everywhere,why only question lack of representation of minorities in Hollywood”and”they are privileged as they don’t face racism as a White,so what?”
      Not to mention,substandard actors replacing better options might not bother some people,but someone was very,VERY pressed when Kangana bullied Krish and affected the quality of Manikarnika as its director.In either case the end product is disappointing,but hypocrisy can only counter with a “take this scenario,what would you do”rhetorical reply.I don’t think the article will take counter arguments when it literally mentions him as a Saint,someone who is being sinned against,bullied against(by whom?One nasty person and paid bots).People can see the negative impact of nepotism as well as condemn Kangana for her hate speech,as well as call out the memes trolling Karan for his sexuality(this is only reason why I have a shred of respect for Karan,and people mocking his sexual orientation deserve to be charged for their disgusting disparaging remarks).But for some people being a liberal and condemning nepotism is mutually exclusive.Let’s see if even Anubhav Sinha is called a nasty right right winger for addressing the privilege that some outsiders don’t have.Apparently it is more liberal to make movies about rich people romancing in exotic locations and a movie with stereotypical depiction of LGBTQ community(Dostana,if anyone needs to know that abomination exists)than the movies about struggles of middle class(“bOrInG_aYuShMaNn_FiLm”).We don’t get tired of Alia in romcoms,but Ayushmann might not be handsome enough to notice for some.As a matter of fact I like both Alia and Ayushmann,in case someone is offended and thinks that it is something that shouldn’t be allowed to slide off as if there is anything wrong about what people have pointed about nepotism.

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      • I’m sorry @mredlich21, but why is Shekhar Gupta’s expose about his own experiences handling an award show ignored? Simply because it doesn’t fit your narrative? If you consider tweets as nothing, then according to you, the #MeToo movement shouldn’t even exist.

        You mean by original source, the paper where the news first appeared. I’ve given original articles much before any official announcement was made, about Taapsee in the role of ‘woh’. I’ve given interviews of Isha Kopikkar talking about her experience. Here’s the original Kriti interview:
        https://www.pinkvilla.com/entertainment/exclusives/exclusive-kriti-sanon-nepotism-reveals-she-was-once-replaced-starkid-makers-felt-she-had-more-buzz-527804
        Widely believed that it was Sara who replaced her and brought down the film quality. I gave the article about how Rohit Shetty made a bizarre statement. I gave an article which someone wrote praising Ananya Panday after SOTY 2, a major flop, as an example of PR manufactured buzz.

        You ignored what I specifically highlighted in the Manoj Bajpayee interview:
        But Bollywood wasn’t programmed like this always. “I was asking somebody recently to tell me when these words started existing in our industry — insider, outsider? Only 20 years back. The evidence is there, it’s just that we ignore it.

        20 years was when KJo and Co started out, didn’t they? I’d have definitely given you far more sources, exposes and articles. But the problem here is the lack of proper investigative journalism. MeToo in America at least got biggies like Weinstein or Spacey but it was an utter failure in India, especially Bollywood who seemed to be using it to hurt others’ careers and reputation as in the case of Sushant. Even worse, our judicial system is a mockery when it comes to the powerful like a famous shirtless blackbuck/human killer.

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        • I ignored the Awards Show stuff, because I knew it already and I don’t see how it relates to “repotism” so much as just “buying awards”. The awards shows have never been merit based, they are always about rewarding the most powerful person in order to please them, or straight out buying an award. Rishi admitted to doing that as far back as 1974.

          The Kriti interview is the same as the Taapsee interview. She says a producer chose to replace her with a star kid, it was the producer’s choice for their own reasons. That’s not Karan Johar picking up a phone, that’s a producer deciding to replace her with a star kid. There is no massive conspiracy here, there is one person making a choice. And again, like Taapsee, I’m not seeing the anger and upset in her words. This is a thing that happened in her career and she moved on.

          By “original source” I mean someone’s words, in context. A newspaper article about a rumor is an accurate report that there was a rumor at that time, which has meaning, but is not truth. The Kriti interview, the Manoj interview, the Taapsee interview, that is what I like, so I can read it myself and draw my own conclusion.

          My conclusion from reading them is that producers have dropped Taapsee and Kriti at the last minute in favor of someone else, they do not know why that happened just that it was the producer’s decision. Both women resented the last minute decision but blamed the producer for it and said that it was his right to make that choice if he thought he had to do it.

          My conclusion from reading the Manoj Bajpayee article is that to say Karan Johar created the “insider/outsider” culture based on him saying it started 20 years ago is quite a reach, and becomes even more of a reach when he goes on to talk about systemic issues like short run times for new films so they can’t build an audience.

          Everything you are linking to says that it is harder for someone without connections to make their way in the industry and has been getting increasingly hard. Nothing says “and it is because Karan Johar is pulling the strings and controlling everything that happens in Hindi film”. Nothing even necessarily says “nepotism” to me, it just says that the industry is changing and unknown names are having a harder time making an impact.

          The point of this article, here, that we are commenting on, is less about the actual issue of nepotism and more about the way this term has been turned into a cudgel to be used against anyone in any situation. I’m sorry, but nothing you have provided changes my opinion on that. There is an issue with people with connections having an easier time getting jobs in Hindi film. But that is a minor issue which has been turned into the reason for anything bad that happens, and particular people (especially Karan Johar) have been turned into the scapegoat based on it.

          On Mon, Sep 7, 2020 at 1:37 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Aman, you have made valid points, but have you considered why these producers and directors are replacing outsiders like Kriti with star kids like Sara. Is it possible there is some nefarious groupism at play? Yes. However, have you considered it is because star kids gain more publicity, which usually leads to more money. These producers and directors can try all they want to make star kids successful, but if audiences are not interested, they just are not interested. However, the audiences are interested. Kareena and Saif did nothing to make Taimur a celebrity. They share photos of him like any other regular pair of parents. “We” made taimur a celebrity. It may be wrong, but it’s simply business. There will people for films that you like that simply think would be better, but others may not agree. Whether it be Ananya in PPAW (notE: taapsee was replaced by Bhumi, otherwise it makes no sense for Bhumi to feel the need to apologize) or Kriti in LAK. Many people enjoyed Sara Ali Khan in Kedarnath, are justified in thinking she might do well in Love Aaj Kal.

          You mentioned Gully Boy; I thought Gully Boy is one of the best films I’ve ever seen, and I did not like 8-Mile. Someone else mentioned Arjun Kapoor and Varun Dhawan. I, along with many people do not like Arjun Kapoor, but I absolutely love Varun Dhawan when he plays dramatic roles. If you see my other comments on this very post, you will see that even I have issues with nepotism. I’m not at all dismissing it as just a problem, but there must be a logic to our arguments. Because when we discuss quaity, it’s very subjective.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Exactly, the only way Kangana fits with a “nepotism” narrative is because the is a Hindu outsider who is claiming the liberal amoral elites have kept her down.

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  8. I agree with you on most things, but here I have to disagree. Nepotism is a problem bigger than what you mention. Currently, it’s focus is on the film industry, but the reason people are angry is because it is a reflection of the country as a whole, where deserving people don’t get the job/role because of stupid prejudices – family connections, same caste, same religion. It’s a huge problem, and I am glad there is so much discussion in the media about it. Maybe, hopefully, we’d get some change, hopefully Bollywood would think twice about casting. Ideally, it should be based on auditions.

    I especially disagree with you about Ananya being ok in PPAW. She was abysmal, and I can’t help but wonder how much better that movie could have been with Taapsee in it.

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    • Thank you, I really like this comment. You aren’t talking about on person, you are talking about a systemic problem. You aren’t even talking about the film industry! This is the kind of thinking I really appreciate, big thoughts about big things.

      Since you bring up Big Things, I have two Big Questions for you if you happen to have time to answer. These aren’t “gotcha” questions, I am sincerely interested in what you think.

      1. If Nepotism is an India-wide problem, what advantage do you see in a discussion of it within the Hindi film industry versus the many other areas of life where it might be prevelant?

      2. Along those same lines, accepting that nepotism is a systemic problem, what solution would you propose? Beyond “kill Karan Johar” which seems to be the general solution offered and is clearly wrong on a both logical and ethical level. But there has to be a systemic solution available, what would it be do you think?

      On Sun, Sep 6, 2020 at 5:12 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. Ok, I have read all of the comments underneath this post and I have some new thoughts.

    1. Why should we care about nepotism? Well even if untalented insiders will go away, talented outsiders may not necessarily rise up. It’s a matter of chance. I know you love Jab Harry Met Sejal, Raabta, and A Gentleman, but for the most part audiences thought 2017 was a disappointment for mainstream films. So, indie films took the spotlight. This is why Rajkummar Rao became a more mainstream hero. That year he did Newton, Trapped, and Bareily Ki Barfi. He was given a moment to shine simply by chance. He continues to shine because the next year he was given his most commercial film in Stree and that became a success. If Stree had flopped, so would have Rajkummar Rao, even if he was already a national film award and filmfare critics award winner.

    2. Quality. When discussing nepotism, its illogical to bring up quality in my opinion. One may not like Ananya Pandey in Pati Patni Aur Woh, but Meredith clearly does. Someone mentioned Gully Boy. I thought Gully Boy was one of the best films I have even seen. I want Zoya to release the 5 hour cut of that film. It’s all subjective.

    3. Solutions. What can be done to solve this issue? Well, there is nothing that can be done on our part. I am against boycotts, because they somehow always turn into a form of abuse and they always get political in some way. I think filmmakers themselves should auditions actors. I don’t mean open auditions. Obviously for certain roles you want actors of certain a stardom. But don’t just sign actors on the basis of their lineage. These star-kids have many resources and can use those resources to train themselves and refine their skills. When Shah Rukh Khan’s children enter Bollywood, I will support them, because their father sent them to go and actually learn directing and acting and get a proper degree/certification.

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    • Thank you, the 1 2 3 system is so great to respond to:

      1. This reminds me that the 3 Khans we have today only came into being because Amitabh took a break. There was a vacuum which allowed them to rise up. So what you are saying is, forget all the details of nepotism and who benefits and who controls it and so on. Deal with the fact that until the more well-known names step aside there is simply no space for other people to come up. This is a wonderful way of thinking about it, I think! And fascinating in terms of considering changes since the past beyond the rise of star kids. For instance, plastic surgery! And CGI on faces. Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor could never have continued working past 50 as lead actors, they just couldn’t look young enough. But thanks to subtle CGI and make-up and gym bodies and everything else, top actors are staying on top at least a decade longer than before. Also, later marriages for actresses! When everyone was married at 21, your career could be only 5 years long. But now actresses are marrying much later, and working after marriage much more commonly, you’ve got people like Dips and Anushka still taking top parts for over a decade now. And now on top of that there is the Star Kid fetish. So a newcomer has to fight their way through star kids, established names, everyone else, before they can make an impression.

      2. Yes, I agree. Well, with some previsos. There are the occasional performances that are so bad everyone agrees. Athiya Shetty, for instance, her career died on the vine, and she probably didn’t deserve even one chance. But yes, the more successful star kids you can’t really talk about quality because it begins to get subjective. Even more so, once you get into the realm of the hypothetical and if a non-star actor might have done better. For instance, I didn’t hate Sonam in Ek Ladki Ko Dekha and I know some other people here feel the same. And others here hated her performance.

      3. What makes me nervous about the idea of auditions is that it brings in new barriers. For instance, you mention SRK’s kids getting extreme training. That’s great, but it is also a sign of their privilege. If they weren’t star kids, they would be wealthy kids with the opportunity to be trained and wait for their dream to work out and so on. But what about the very talented people who do not have those advantages? They ones who couldn’t afford overseas studies, don’t speak the English that the audition form is written in, and so on? Sorry, I don’t have a solution either, beyond just an awareness that we don’t want to replace nepotism with wealth and privilege. Perhaps a talent scout system? Going to plays in Bombay, dance recitals, anywhere that you might see a talent you want to use?

      On Sun, Sep 6, 2020 at 2:08 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Well here’s the thing, there is no way you can get rid of nepotism completely. Obviously children of rich actors/directors/producers are going to have more resources and opportunities, with our without the audition system. At least this way they roles they get will feel earned. It will feel less like a star kid getting a role and more like a deserving actor who has parents in the industry getting a role.

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        • But what about Varun and Ranveer who did do that and still get trolled? Or is that on them, they should be spending more time making sure the public knows about their years of training before their big break?

          On Sun, Sep 6, 2020 at 9:03 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  10. I’m a little late to this discussion but I’ve been thinking that this blow back on star kids is mostly because the the kids are female? South is filled with star kids even though women mostly do not act. Sruthi Hasan or Keerthi Suresh are exception rather than the norm.

    Allu Arjun, Ram Charan, Mahesh Babu or Rana are seen as hard workers who generate employment. They have their production houses that employ thousands of people. They aren’t doing it for fun. Akhil Akkineni on the other hand is seen as an entitled brat.

    Sonam, Sara or Janvi come across as fashionable, fun loving or easy going in front of media. Not someone with substance who are passionate about their craft. May be this is how they want to maintain their image in public. May be if we see fewer pics of them in airport look, gym look or just breathing look and more of them being business owners (like Rakul), working with charities (Samantha) and employment generators, the perception may change.

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    • There’s enough blowback on actors like Arjun Kapoor, Varun Dhawan as well. In the South, it’s quite different. Though the stars have larger than life following they generally are humble in public life. Also, there is no paparazzi culture like Bollywood.
      Although there are conflicts based on family feuds or political issues, there is no insider vs outsider thing as such in Tollywood. Everyone goes to everyone else’s films, praise and support them publicly on Twitter, TV etc. Even stars like Chiranjeevi, Mahesh Babu, Prabhas attend a lot of promotional events for small films/upcoming actors. And yeah, as you mentioned people Akkineni Akhil or Allu Sirish are trolled for their looks and acting.

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      • Maybe it’s because in the South the nepotism is so fully built into the structure of the industry that it is no longer a flaw to be fixed, but rather a basic element that keeps things going? There are the family groups, and they work for the good of the whole industry, if you were to remove them, the entire structure would collapse.

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    • I have wondered something similar myself. It does seem to be Jhanvi and Alia and Sara who are coming in for the most anger. I was thinking it was pure misogyny, more resentment of women in the public view then men, plus an assumption that they would have to get ahead through nepotism because a woman can’t succeed on her own.

      But you raise an interesting point. Yes, they do appear to just be doing airport looks and stuff. But that’s all perception, right? Sonam is a producer with a good number of films behind her, and in interviews when she has talked about production, she is super smart and clear and knows what she is talking about. Plus she helped the careers of Rajkumar Rao, Fawad Khan, Swara Bhaskar, and Dulquer, so she is reaching out and mentoring talent. And yet the media focuses on her clothes and her airport looks and the assumption is that she is flying off for a vacation somewhere, not flying off for a meeting with investors. I don’t think Sonam necessarily plays into that either. She is the brand ambassador for various companies and her career relies on her wearing the right clothes, but she has certainly put it out there plenty of times that she is a producer and very serious about it. The results show too, she and Rhea have raised their family studio from almost nothing to a solid profit making business. And yet somehow that is not the first line in any description of her, or the first thing you think about. Jhanvi and Sara, they are so young, maybe they will start independent businesses or something later.

      On Mon, Sep 7, 2020 at 2:00 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Sonam reached out and helped the careers of Fawad, Dulqer, Swara and Rajkumar? Ok since you compel me to, let’s go one by one.

        1. Dulqer Salman’s first film in Hindi was Karwaan with the late great Irrfan and Mithila Palkar, which on its opening day 1.5 crores. It was a minor disappointment but received well. Dulqer’s second movie with Sonam had an opening day of 65 lakhs, a panned disaster if there was.
        https://www.news18.com/news/movies/karwaan-box-office-collection-day-1-irrfan-khan-dulquer-salmaan-starrer-fails-to-open-big-earns-rs-1-50-cr-1833969.html

        https://www.ndtv.com/entertainment/the-zoya-factor-box-office-collection-day-1-sonam-kapoors-film-gets-a-not-so-lucky-start-2104850

        2. Fawad Khan’s debut was with Sonam, but Khoobsurat was only a Below Average film and its Overseas was more due to Fawad than Sonam. Later on, he became very popular because of Kapoor and Sons and was heavily promoted since, to be frank, Karan Johar did have a crush on him of some sort. (Source: Twinkle on KwK)
        https://boxofficeindia.com/movie.php?movieid=2302

        3. Swara Bhaskar first found fame with Tanu Weds Manu and Raanjhana, both Aanand L Rai films. Her first solo lead was in Nil Batte Sannata and all this was much before Veere Di Wedding where she had only a supporting role.

        4. Rajkummar Rao’s first film with Sonam was Dolly Ki Doli, another flop where the bigger role was given to Sonam. This was after his National Award win for Shahid and lots of other films like Kai Po Che, Queen and Talaash. His biggest successes were Newton and Stree, nothing to do with Sonam. And again, Ek Ladki where she had a bigger role flopped and among the cast, guess who got the least praise?

        As a producer, Sonam has Aisha which flopped
        https://boxofficeindia.com/movie.php?movieid=84
        Khoobsurat was below averge and only Veere Di Wedding was a success.

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        • https://www.easterneye.biz/nepotism-tornado-sweeps-bollywood/

          The aftermath, as described by Asjad Nazir.

          Some excerpts:

          Sonakshi decided to deactivate her Twitter account and turned off the comments on her Instagram after receiving a barrage of criticism. This ended up backfiring as most celebrated the actress leaving Twitter.

          While most star kids remained quiet in the hopes of seeing the storm pass, others reacted in an entitled manner and this turned even more people against them. Sonam reacted with some ill-advised comments on social media and managed to magnify hate directed towards her.

          Over 300 petitions were started asking people to boycott perpetrators of nepotism and to get justice for Sushant, with one getting nearly four million signatures. It hasn’t just been star kids who have been targeted, but also production houses that launch them into Bollywood at the cost of new talent.

          My realisation

          THE nepotism debate raging online also made me realise how media have been duped by Bollywood to promote star kids ahead of outside talent, who have often been side-lined during publicity tours.

          When Sushant Singh Rajput’s films Chhichhore and Kedarnath were released I was only given the option of interviewing his leading ladies Shraddha Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan, who are both star kids, but not him. I realised it has been a similar story when films featuring other star kids are released, which shows that nepotism stretches beyond casting and into marketing with Bollywood.

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  11. Really?Sonam “mentoring” Rao,Fawad,Swara and Dulquer?I didn’t know she did the job of a director without being paid for it.It would have been wonderful if she used those fine mentoring skills on herself.I wouldn’t be surprised if such an outlandish and pompous claim was made by Kangana as she has worked with Rao.But bringing Sonam on the same level?I should hardly be surprised as Sonam talked(on twitter,from her own handle,and is fully accountable for it)about the “karma” of being born in a household(but I feel her statement was ill-worded,her intentions weren’t wrong.They sounded pompous but weren’t meant to)and Kangana talked about defending the caste system(a rather vitriolic,despicable stand).But the tendency of political parties to have uppercaste Hindu males in key posts with a few minorities for tokenism isn’t that different from Dharma working with a select group of actors and a few outsiders thrown in for defense.People talk about Dharma giving breaks to Vicky and Irrfan(in The Lunchbox)as if they taught them to act.Giving someone a break(which depends on numerous factors-even big budget epics can flop)and mentoring them is different.I don’t see SLB saying he popularized SRK as Devdas was insanely popular in the West(though I hated SRK in it).
    And if questioning nepotism is misogyny,then let me equalise the balance by calling out Ranbir,Varun,Uday,Abhishek(only to some extent,now he is taking roles for acting instead of just starpower),Suraj and Jhanvi,Ananya and-well,I don’t consider others as products of nepotism,but as actors who took advantage of it in the beginning.Not to forget the insane amount of behind the screen crew-Punit Malhotra is a prime example.Alia got a big budget film on a silver platter but proved her mettle.Sara was literally welcomed with open arms after Kedarnath,and was consistently praised except in Love Aj Kal(arguably the movie itself was unbalanced).There are not as many women as the men who started on an advantageous position.
    But this guilt tripping by calling accusations of nepotism as misogyny and right wing propaganda(which it is,but I don’t care for politics as a NOTA guy so I don’t care what a political party thinks about it)isn’t going to work.I had heard that this blog is a crowd of progressive liberals so was pleased to see people acknowledging the privilege that people have by birth,except a few who wish to remain in denial about nepotism in India and feel all is well.Nepotism exists,and anyone feeling ok about it can continue to do so without virtue signalling or guilt tripping others.Because this sounds suspiciously like people saying there is no White privilege or caste privilege and if there is then nothing can be done about it.Wasn’t BLM touted as Democratic propaganda to defame it?Sensible citizens distanced themselves from politics and continued to point out the wrong.It is your blog,express what you feel about right wing,deny nepotism,feel offended by people presenting facts.I shall continue to press NOTA,criticise the shortcomings in governance,and criticise Dharma when it is due.I will condemn personal remarks and hate speech against Karan.But I don’t think I can be in a denial of his steps that intentionally or unintentionally promoted nepotism and led to untalented folks getting advantage over talented ones.I wouldn’t have any problem if PPAW had Alia replacing Tapsee but Ananya of all people?And if it were as easy to say “I am not Tapsee,I am not offended”then many of us would be saying “I am not Alia,I am not being issued death threats” and “I am not Karan,I am not being bullied,I only care to end nepotism without thinking about the ethics of means to end this.”The last five years didn’t have Dharma facing financial losses on the whole,the company is only growing.He is still extremely powerful and influential,whether anyone wants to believe or not.Facts don’t care for feelings-just check the revenues of Dharma Productions.And if being gay makes him powerless,do you think he faces the struggle of meeting his boss in the office and being ridiculed?Wonder how middle class girls are molested by directors?Do people face that if they are from a priveleged upbringing?Besides I can choose to remain in denial and pretend that the hate against him is not an authentic “source”.Any FIR against him?Any PIL in court?Any lawsuit?Action by CBFC(which film doesn’t face it for all the wrong reasons)?A few troll pages on social media do not amount to sources.Besides every single person in the comments has only called out nepotism and at the same time condemned bullying against Karan(including me.I called out Bracelet-a as I don’t support her stand at all).If it bothers you more that Karan is called out than the fact that there is nepotism.Do what you want then,but don’t call out comments for mentioning nepotism.I don’t have problem with what Karan does with his power and money.But I have a problem when what could have been a better casting is ruined by mediocrity.If DHARMA(the company,KJo is not the only person representing it)happens to be a part of it,people will condemn it.And Karan is no Saint,unless you want him to hold him in the same esteem as Guru Dutt(which you already have done in previous comments)it’s your choice.But the only people entirely faultless and the real victim in this entire fiasco is Deepika and Ranveer,and maybe Alia who is getting undue hate.But the Dharma as a company is far from innocent.And I refuse to frame it as an opinion.There is an excellent thread here supplemented with SOURCES,which hou may blissfully ignore,reinterpret to suit your narrative,dodge with meaningless rhetorics(by the way this habit of evading questions with rhetorics is a pet tactic of the party in power in India)or outright deny.If you think that it is okay to make “friends” and get roles based on that,then isn’t Akshay doing the same thing by literally falling into the arms of even more powerful men?Two wrongs don’t make one right.Anyways I am not here to seek your validation but to present my opinion.I wanted to condemn the bullying against KJo,which I did.That doesn’t make him a saint or an outright villain.I don’t hold Karan as responsible as Dharma the company,as things work backdoors in India.That doesn’t make nepotism or underrepresentation of less priveleged actors okay.Anyways Dharma can continue to work with their favourite starkids without influencing other productions,but is it really that innocent in the second case?Please don’t sit down with mathematical calculation comparing outsiders launched by Dharma vs Anurag,as perhaps production and direction are the same thing for you.No wonder people condemned BLM by citing black on black violence but not addressing the very real discrimination in the society.I wonder if you would have held the view that (“nepotism is not a problem!!!!!”)if it it wasn’t associated with the untarnished personna of his holiness Saint Karan Johar.Of course you won’t see how is it a problem unless it affects you.

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  12. I actually just went on this rant very recently.

    My big issue with the nepotism debate, and the only thing I’ll contribute to this conversation, is that people are using the nepo card with no merit. In the last few months, people have automatically discredited nepo kids purely because they’re products of nepotism, with no backup to their claims besides that. I don’t mind nepotism, but only once the actors or whoever have proven their talent. I’m not going to name names, but I can think of plenty of nepo kids who are well deserving of their success and fame. And I can think of others who have proven over and over that they’re not talented, and the fact that they continue to find success and big budget roles isn’t fair to the ones who deserve it. But those are two separate groups, and lumping them together isn’t right. I got my current teaching job that I’ve held onto for almost 4 years now, because my supervisor was my math teacher back in high school. I don’t think that means I’m less qualified than the other candidates. The same goes in this industry.

    (Also, unrelated, but I’m very curious as to who you’re referring to when you mention Karan mentoring young gay men. I’m not aware of any out actors, or even ones who were rumored.)

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    • I will give you a third group, star kids who proved their lack of talent and promptly faded away. Which is a very large group but doesn’t get much attention because they faded away so completely. Fardeen Khan, Zayed Khan, Sooraj Pancholi, Athiya Shetty, and loads of others. Maybe they didn’t deserve their big break to start, but the system successfully identified them as bad prospects and dumped them.

      Your question about Karan points to another big problem with this debate! It is only concerned with onscreen talent. Karan mentored Aayan Mukherjee, Tarun Mansukhi, Punit Malhotra. None of them are 100% guaranteed gay, but it seems likely they are. And they are also talented young directors who Karan found and developed. Some of them happen to also come from film families, some don’t, as is true for most of the Dharma films employees. Karan gives jobs to 100s of people, most of whom have personal stories about how he found and encouraged them, and the debate only cares about the big name actors onscreen, not the 100s of others.

      On Sat, Sep 26, 2020 at 6:30 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

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