The Indian film fraternity has found itself amid the debate around nepotism ever since Kangana Ranaut's remarks in Koffee With Karan about Karan Johar being the 'flagbearer of nepotism' surfaced. Many opinions came forth from time to time as lengthy discussions ensued with most of the conclusions being hazy.
However, actor Sushant Singh Rajput's recent demise has rekindled the question around Bollywood being a difficult industry for newcomers from non-film backgrounds. In a TV interview yesterday, Kangana Ranaut once again slammed Bollywood for its exclusive treatment and culture.
The actress spoke from her home in Manali, where she has been staying since the COVID-19 outbreak began. Raising her concerns, Kangana Ranaut questioned the Mumbai Police's move of not summoning certain industry insiders—namely Mahesh Bhatt, Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra—who could help further the investigation in Sushant Singh Rajput's demise. She also mentioned how she had been called in to give her statement, but couldn't do so because of her being away.
“I am not saying that anyone wanted Sushant to die, but definitely doomed. These people are emotional vultures. They want to see people lynch themselves. They summoned me, and I asked them too, that I’m in Manali, that you can send somebody to take my statement, but I have not received anything after that. I am telling you, if I have said anything, which I can’t testify, which I can’t prove, and which is not in the public domain, I will return my Padma Shri," she said.
"I am telling you, if I had said anything which I can't justify, which I can't prove and which is not in public domain.
Elaborating on her own experiences in the industry, Kangana Ranaut shed light on how her career too, had been affected earlier. “Eighteen brands dropped me within two months. Maybe I didn't have the thought of killing myself but definitely shaving my head off and disappearing. My relatives didn't let their children meet me because you turned me into a nymphomaniac. Called me so many things in public. As a girl, having a marriage and a child is no more an option for me. Small cities don't value money, they value respect.”
Veteran actress Simi Garewal supported the actress's voice, but not everyone was on board with many feeling that as always there was a shifting of the narrative in her favour. See the reactions from Twitter below.
I don't know what all of you felt after watching #KanganaSpeaksToArnab ..but it has left me quite depressed.. I'm distraught at what #SushantSingRajput endured .. and also what many 'outsiders' go through in Bollywood.. it must change!
Sushant Singh Rajput's death also laid bare the extremely poor handling of reporting sensitive news, along with the need for an open dialogue about mental health, free from stigmatisation. The aftermath in which many celebrities were individually trolled on Twitter only brings to the front the sheer hypocrisy of our mental health narrative. Is it fair to hold a handful of people responsible when the public itself flocks towards certain superstars more than the others, leading to record Box Office numbers?
A healthy debate about nepotism is valid and must happen, but through introspection and ongoing support of new actors and their work, not via public mud-slinging and sensationalisation at the cost of someone's mental well being.