Bollywood, an industry that has taken India to an entirely new level and has given us moments to be proud of, seems to have come to a standstill with lack of novelty, almost 100 years later since its origin. Gone are the days when actors were known to be artists, their aura served as a light to many and their art was not only a source of entertainment but an inspiration to many. It was many decades ago when no ‘Kapoors’, ‘Khans’ or ‘Bhatts’ used to rule Bollywood, the fact that performance and stardom used to walk hand-in-hand is no more completely valid these days. While ‘Kapoors’ are known to be the flag bearers of nepotism, almost every second actor in the Indian film industry is the flag bearer of families which have produced some of the greatest actors, ironical is the fact that these flag bearers are not born actors.
Nepotism is an act of favoritism in appointing or giving an opportunity to work in various fields of human endeavor including politics, economics, etc. The origin of the term “nepotism” can be traced to the Catholic bishops who would bequeath wealth, property, and priesthood to their nephews. The nephews were usually their illegitimate offspring, and this was a way by which the clergy could own property and retain power within their families. Nepotism is as rampant as any other bad facet of the society but due to its covert nature and as almost everybody engages in it, it is never talked about.
India and other third world countries face the issue of nepotism in every field and it is a major cause and effect of every other issue such as populism, corruption, etc.
We saw the seeds of nepotism easily sprouting in Bollywood. Actors with pure talent are sidelined due to first priorities given to recommendations. And the worst part is, if an outsider tries to raise his voice, he is slammed, cursed and denoted a wannabe seeking attention.
The unfortunate suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput, a promising and talented actor from Bollywood, brought the issue of nepotism in the public debate. It is alleged that Sushant committed suicide due to rampant nepotism in Bollywood and the inability to handle the unspoken boycott by the big and mighty from the Bollywood industry. The social media, especially, raised its voice against the nepotism in Bollywood and sad end to a very promising career. Nepotism is a concept that engulfs almost all sectors of society. We shall understand its socio-economic origins, its all-pervasive nature, and multiple impacts in this article.
Nepotism or not, star kids have always been a part of Bollywood. Some of those who made an entry riding on family names made a quick exit, while others like Alia, Ranbir Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Kareena Kapoor, Kajol, Hritik Roshan, Jahnvi Kapoor have carved a niche for themselves without depending on their star parents.
Kangana Ranaut appeared on a channel where she spoke about the prevalent culture of nepotism in Bollywood and how that resulted in Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. The conversation around nepotism was first ignited by Ranaut on Karan Johar’s chat show Koffee with Karan in 2017, where she called the filmmaker the ‘flag-bearer of nepotism’.