Nepotism in film industry: The unending saga of mediocrity and favouritism

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Not just Twitter hashtags and Facebook trolling but there needs to be a sustained revolution that encourages path-breaking, experimental storytelling and filmmaking.

Anurag Singh Bohra | New Delhi

Sushant Singh Rajput has left us, al that remains of the ever-smiling actor are the films, his dedication to science and his passion for the art.  His demise under questionable circumstances has once again ignited the debate around nepotism not only in the Indian film industry but in different walks of life as well.

Speculations about “nepotism gang” have been resurfaced once again and many actors and social media influencers have been accusing movie mafia led by Bollywood’s powers houses that be responsible for Sushant’s death. It’s been reported that the late actor lost over seven film projects helmed by mainstream filmmakers that may have led him towards depression. Due to the present unraveling of mysteries and conspiracy theories around Sushan’t alleged suicide, the accusations and mudslinging seem prolonged.

However, this unfortunate incident calls for serious introspection on nepotism and favouritism in the Hindi film industry.

The most devastating effect of nepotism is the lack of recognition faced by promising actors, filmmakers, scriptwriters, editors, cinematographers, lyricists, singers, music composers, choreographers, etc. Unfortunately, the debate gets confined to the actors as they’re more visually accessible to the audience.

Film directors, screenwriters, editors and sound designers, who do an equally commendable job in movie making are often overshadowed by the on-screen performers. So in order to address the issue of nepotism or favouritism, it is imperative that everyone involved in filmmaking gets their dues. Only, the audience or viewers have the ability to honour artistry.

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Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit didn’t become overnight sensations just because of their exceptional talents. It was the love and appreciation of the viewers that made them superstars.

Our film-watching experience has been limited to remembering the name of actors and the director at the very least. In spite of liking the story, grooving to the music, and being in awe of the glamourous costumes worn by actors, we hardly care about the writers, lyricists, choreographers, composers, or costume designers. Singers have been famous though, still, there’s a long way to go when it comes to honouring and acknowledging underrated talent.

Ever since Irrfan lost his battle with cancer, movie lovers have been mourning the loss to cinema. But we all need to ask ourselves, did Irrfan actually receive the love and appreciation at par with Shah Rukh, Aamir, Salman, Akshay and Ranveer. Of course, his past few films like Madaari, Piku, Hindi Medium, Qareeb Qareeb Single and Angrezi Medium did garner mainstream adulation. Yet actors like Irrfan or Manoj Bajpai in spite of their flawless artistry do not attain the stardom as Robert Di Niro or Al Pacino in Hollywood.

Satyajit Ray once remarked that the Indian audience doesn’t have any respect for art and aesthetics. Paving way for mediocrity as an excuse for entertainment and commercial success has led to the deterioration of the Hindi cinema. Nepotism and mediocrity complement each other and without the one others can not prevail.

Succumbing to depression has many internal as well as external factors associated with it. But what makes a reigning superstar feel secluded and neglected is the lack of opportunities and recognition. Actors who imbibe their characters and are passionate about their craft deserve to be rewarded for their efforts irrespective of their rapport with film dynasties. Still, if a credible performer feels ignored or dejected the onus lies on the audience. If an actor fails it’s the audience who actually fails him or her. Bajpai, who proved his mettle as an artist in ‘Satya,’ ‘Shool,’  ‘Zubeida,’ ‘Pinjar’ and ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ had to wait for 25 years to be honoured with Padma Shri and taste success through the web show ‘The Family Man.’

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Nepotism isn’t going to end. It is up to the audience to appreciate the craft and aesthetics if they actually wish to avoid the dreadful fate of young artists in the near future. The filmmakers, actors, screenwriters and singers, without any godfather, won’t be willing to raise their voice against nepotism and favouritism unless there is backing from the audiences.

Not just Twitter hashtags and Facebook trolling but there needs to be a sustained revolution that encourages path-breaking, experimental storytelling and filmmaking. That may have an indirect impact on the mediocre lot who’ll be compelled to work hard and up their game in order to keep pace with exceptional actors and film directors. If the audience doesn’t change their perspective towards art even now, all the justice hashtags and social media activism would be irrelevant. It would also be a great disservice to the legacy of an actor who gave milestone performances in his brief filmography.

Let’s just not complain about nepotism, but support worthy talents.

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