Has Nepotism in Bollywood Gone Too Far? | Sunday Observer

Has Nepotism in Bollywood Gone Too Far?

2 August, 2020
SRK’s Daughter, Suhana, on the Vogue India Cover
SRK’s Daughter, Suhana, on the Vogue India Cover

Suhana Khan, daughter of the 'Badshah of Bollywood' himself, Shah Rukh Khan, recently graced the cover of Vogue India at the bright young age of 18 to  widespread criticism and accusations of nepotism.  Bollywood’s bread  and  butter 

Nepotism has been Bollywood’s bread and butter recruitment initiative from time to time. Literally, it was the only active recruitment policy, until beautiful Indian women began making a splash at international beauty competitions like Miss Universe and Miss World – then Bollywood opened up the recruiting pool a bit wider to include them, and their supermodel peers. The true outsiders, who have made it through the tightly guarded gates, despite the almost insurmountable barriers, have been the badass hustlers who got in by ‘the skin of their teeth,’ the ‘sweat of their brow,’ coupled with huge amounts of luck.

Of course, nepotism exists in other industries, and it happens in Hollywood, too but not in the same way. In Hollywood they have access but it’s icky, and it’s recognised by everyone for what it is, and until the recent rise of Instagram ‘famous for being famous’ crew – these people usually haven’t been taken seriously. They aren’t given the biggest launch pads right off the bat (if they are, the audience and the industry openly calls them out), or awarded the best opportunities straight out of the gates. Meanwhile, in Bollywood it’s the most basic of things, a completely accepted, respected, and perpetuated practice.

Bollywood is an industry too and is interested in making lots and lots of money. It’s an industry churning out products for our consumption, and we buy it because we love art, and in India it’s really truly one of the few escapes for the people. However, we shouldn’t for a second think that only audiences decide who sticks around and becomes a star! There is an entire industry (us here at BG are a part of it, as well!) and film fraternity that strategises ways to leverage, salvage, and spin everything so that we buy it. The new paparazzi and insta fame game has been exported quite successfully to India, a country that already had quite a robust celebrity-obsessed culture. Tie in all the nationalist propaganda disguised as patriotism, and big business money, including the mafia power plays… It’s a huge global entity now with tons of money involved to keep us all wanting more. There is no denying that.

So,as a business decision, having Suhana Khan on the cover makes sense for Vogue India and Shah Rukh Khan, and even Suhana Khan.

My whole beef with nepotism and the power and privilege of Bollywood folks is that it goes unacknowledged and unchecked, and thus perpetuates. It puts  me off  no end when Bollywood’s products of nepotism tell us in interview after interview that they have it even harder than the complete outsiders, and 'the audience will decide' whether they have the acting talent worth keeping around or not. As if the whole industry backing them has no claim to their success, as if they weren’t raised in circles of privilege and handed access to the best of the best in the industry! As if the industry powers don’t have a vested interest in seeing their children, their brother’s children, their friends  and similar people  succeed!

Not to mention this entire 'look at us we’re so progressive'  rubbish  they’ve all been preaching from their pulpits of privilege whilst completely ignoring or erasing the reality that they’re continuously benefiting and perpetuating an inequitable system.

Please spare us. it wouldn’t be so bad if they owned it you know what I mean?

— Sundeep Hans