Actress Kangana Ranaut has once again rattled the Bollywood fraternity with her recent interview with a news channel. Calling out the nepotism that goes around in Bollywood, Ranaut accused several directors and production houses of making the film industry “a mafia business”. And while recounting her own bad experiences, Ranaut called out actresses like Taapsee Pannu and Swara Bhasker as well. Ranaut called them “B-grade actresses” who would go against her (Ranaut) and team up with the mafia-directors, despite being outsiders in the industry themselves.
While the Manikarnika actress accepted that these actresses are much more talented than certain star-kids, she still alleged that Pannu and Bhasker’s “whole existence was a proof of nepotism”. But is Ranaut right in targetting two self-made actresses, who are outsiders, in a debate around nepotism? If the “outsiders” turn on each other, instead of calling out the system that breeds discrimination and oppression, then are things ever going to change in bollywood?
This is not the first time that Kangana Ranaut has spoken out against nepotism in the film industry. And one’s problem with Ranaut is not regarding her outspokenness against such inequalities that persist within Bollywood. But the problem lies in the way she chooses to speak and fight for it. Nepotism is not a system that has been constructed within a day. The roots of nepotism in Bollywood go way back. While there might be ‘flagbearers’ of nepotism in the industry today, one needs to remember that the fight is not against one director or one production house. The enemy is not a single person, but a system. Yet this is where Ranaut has been stuck, as far as the nepotism debate goes, ever since her stint on Koffee With Karan.
The Reaction From The Actresses
Taapsee Pannu has always had a different take on nepotism than Ranaut. She has claimed in the past that outsiders in the film industry have the ‘relatability factor with the audience’, and that is a strength she wants to use to her advantage. In response to Kangana’s latest statement, Taapsee told Hindustan Times, “It’s disheartening to see someone making a mockery out of outsiders and the industry that has given us so much. Imagine the parents whose kids are coming into the industry. What will they think of us? Like we are some nasty evil people sitting here to eat outsiders?”
Like Pannu, Swara Bhasker has never shied away from giving her opinion on nepotism, different as they may be from Ranaut’s approach to the topic. According to Bhasker, nepotism is an important subject that needs to be “discussed with decency and discretion. The star-system should understand how it evolved, where it came from, what is the role of the audience in it?” After Kangana’s recent jab against her, Bhasker shared the interview video and wrote, “-Needy outsider – B grade actress (But) – better looking & better actor than Alia Bhatt & Ananya!” Net net I think this was a compliment! Thanks Kangana! I think u are gorgeous, generous & a great actor! Shine on.”
Where The Discussion Goes Wrong
This is not the first time these actresses have had a spat with Ranaut on their different approaches to handle the problem. But the one thing that gets lost amidst this unnecessary squabble is that everybody forgets that they all are still fighting the same problem. Each person has the right to choose his/her own weapon during a battle, but as long as their enemy is the same, i.e. the systemic nepotism, they are all on the same side.
Nepotism is not going to away if people keep playing this blame game. To bring about such a systemic change in an industry is not easy, and neither is it a one-day job. Will just holding two-three directors responsible for decades of nepotism going to make it go away? Does fighting with people who do not agree to one’s single-minded opinion help the cause at large? Doesn’t naming and shaming people who do not agree with you only further the ‘us versus them’ narrative?
If the “outsiders” or well wishers of the industry truly want to usher in a positive change in the system then they need to shift the dialogue from who is responsible to how can it be ended. Simply playing the blame game isn’t indicative of the required zeal to make that change happen.
Dyuti Gupta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author’s own.