The question of nepotism has been persistent with Bollywood and political parties. The two professions which are dear to the media steal the limelight. The politics in the country is heavily nepotistic with the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty (virtual first family of the country) being a prime example of it. The blame could not be completely put just on the ‘Gandhi’s’ because other regional parties such as Samajwadi Party (SP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), follow the same suit. While the nepotism in politics faced significant media scrutiny and criticism, it was not the same with Bollywood, at least till last decade.
The recent debate on nepotism in Bollywood started with actress Kangana Ranaut’s comment on Karan Johar’s chat show last February. The nepotism debate in the film industry has been stoked again with Johar’s own romantic musical production Dhadak, which was released on 20th july. Dhadak is the Hindi remake of Marathi blockbuster ‘Sairat’ which crossed a 100 crore mark and received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics. Dhadak stars Ishaan Khatter, half-brother of actor Shahid Kapoor, and late actor Sridevi’s daughter Jhanvi Kapoor. All eyes are now on Dhadak to see whether star lineage is a sure-fire success formula at the box office.
According to data sourced from box office performance of movies of 68 films released since 2000 as launch vehicles for star kids, 46 bombed. The biggest disaster so far has been director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s fantasy romantic thriller Mirzya (2016) that introduced actor Anil Kapoor’s son Harshvardhan. The movie lost nearly 56 crores. Another such big disaster was Director Harry Baweja’s science fiction thriller Love Story 2050 (2008) which lost 29 crores. This film launched his son Harman Baweja, who’s career never took off after that movie. Saawariya which launched Ranbir Kapoor, the scion of the first family of Bollywood and Sonam Kapoor, daughter of ace actor Anil Kapoor met with same fate on the box office, it lost 25 crores. It is very clear from the above statistics that having well-established parents or relatives do not necessarily help the star kids to have a bright career ahead. Also, many people without bollywood connections have made it big and proved that privileges hardly matters beyond a point. “Look at people like Ayushmann Khurrana or films like Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety that worked with an entirely unfamiliar cast”, said film trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar. He further said, “What star kids may get is a couple of extra chances but ultimately it all boils down to talent when public time and money are at stake.”
So, if the majority of movies which launch star kids proved disastrous then what forces the Bollywood bigwigs’ obsession with launching star kids? According to filmmaker Vikram Bhatt, “The thing with star kids is that they are known before they are known, so they are newcomers who are not really new and the film becomes more marketable”. Bhatt has directed star children such as Faisal Khan, Emraan Hashmi and Aditya Narayan in their debut films. So, the hype and curiosity around the film, eliminates the need to spend on marketing. Although, there are enough examples which proves that an easy debut with the support of the family does not necessarily translate into a successful career. However, bollywood star kids such as Alia Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor and Varun Dhawan have proved that their Bollywood connection is not the only reason they are successful today.
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