Recently, while flipping through news articles online I stumbled upon one which touched on the emotive topic of Nepotism in Bollywood.
Ever since the unfortunate death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, much debate has surfaced around certain individuals and their families’ grip on Bollywood. To be completely upfront, it’s not a topic I’ve followed closely but for some reason when an article appeared on my Twitter feed related to the above, I chose to read it.
In this article, a very influential Bollywood actor, director, producer and so on and so forth, argued that being part of a aristocratic Bollywood family was no guarantee of success. This individual made an argument that, ultimately, audiences judge a work. And that it is done on the basis of merit. That just because you are so and so’s son or daughter is no fait accompli. And you often hear similar argument made by people in that position. That is, people in a position of privilege.
Whilst true, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is infinitely easier for them to reach the top. They often claim, ‘Yes, it opens doors … but we still have to prove ourselves.’ Well, I hope so! But, more importantly, that you can have a door open for you is one of the biggest advantages there are.
Truth: recognise that having a door open for you is a MASSIVE advantage
Let’s look at this further, using a simple example. You’re the son of a famous Bollywood film player (actor / director / producer / etc.). You dream of stardom and so because of your name:
- A door opens for you to audition for a role —> you don’t get the part (but you gain experience)
- Another door opens for a second audition —> you don’t get the part (but you gain experience)
- Another door opens for a third audition —> you don’t get the part (but you gain experience)
- Another door opens for Xth time —> you get the part
You begin to get more parts now. You improve your craft. You develop your network.
You see where I’m going?
Sometimes, we hear people’s say, ‘Well if he wasn’t good he wouldn’t get to the top’. Sure, but with practices people improve. So you can start off as a mediocre actor and because your name gets you a role you go on set and experience working with a strong director and other actors and you improve. It’s self-fulling.
Now this is not always the case across the board but what I would say is that people from prominent film families have to recognise and own up that they have such advantages. By nature, people like to attribute success to their own doing. But the reality is that circumstances outside your control, such as where you are born or what family you’re born into, plays a tremendous role. This all doesn’t mean that the privileged few ought not be in the industry. Not at all. They must simply recognise how lucky they are and be humble about it. Because most other aspiring actors don’t have their advantages, which, like it or not, is the main reason why they’re where they are.
Let’s not forget an important point: this phenomenon happens across sectors and industries and not just film.