Actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s sudden death has shocked the collective conscience of the nation, sparking an important debate about nepotism and treatment of the “outsiders” in the film industry. We spoke to filmmaker, composer and director Dushyant Pratap Singh about various issues related to nepotism and the outsider versus insider debate in Bollywood.
“Nepotism has no place in Bollywood because we are in a public domain and the public decides who is a star or superstar or who is a flop actor or who is a great artist, like Irrfan Khan who is not with us today. So there is no place for nepotism today. Maybe someone’s son has got a chance to work in his production house and that is his right. My father will transfer his business to me and if we talk about the top 20 stars, including actors, composers and artists, only a small percentage who come from a background of films, said Dushyant.
Being his candid best, Dushyant also spoke about how he feels that some were taking advantage of the debate around nepotism to stay in the limelight. “Nepotism is a talking point started by some stars who are not ready to retire despite reaching that stage. These stars want to stay relevant. And some others too, who don’t get publicity due to their nature and they too want to stay relevant. The third section is those who are not successful and have not worked hard, it is about destiny. They too jump into the nepotism debate. Let’s look at those being targeted in this debate — Karan Johar, Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Shah Rukh Khan. Now if they respond, imagine what a talking point that would be. So these elements want to enter that arena. It is bad that we are fighting within the industry and this is still an unorganised sector, which does not get benefits.”
Dushyant also felt that many big names like Karan Johar were being targeted unfairly. “Many are talking about Karan Johar but it is his decision who he wants to take in his film. Can those targeting him make films like Kuch Kuch Hota hai? No, they cannot make them. It is easy to pelt stones on someone, but please look at someone’s struggle before targeting them.”
On being asked if he thought that the industry was divided between outsiders and insiders, he said: “Film industry has never been divided. I will explain why this debate has been started with an example. Suppose a film is made, then it takes 9 months time after the film is made for it to be released. In those 9 months, 100 or more people involved are together. This is when they cannot meet other people. If some artist says he wants to meet me, I cannot meet him. I want to complete one project once. This system demands time and you cannot entertain someone else while you are busy with your project. This is why people feel that a group has been made. Also, if the film does well with one actress, I will definitely continue working with her. So it is about having a comfort zone, it cannot be called a group.”
Dushyant also spoke about how with YouTube and OTT platforms these boundaries have been demolished. “We are global now. I feel instead of this we should focus on competing internationally. There is no use of debating this. If we give our best in the global arena, this debate won’t be needed. For example, the south industry has flourished so much in recent times. Baahubali can be compared to Chinese war films now. We make Hindi movies and we are flagbearers for the language. We should focus on entering this global competition and then fight; that would be fun.”