MISSION IMAGE REPAIR: BOLLYWOOD NEEDS TO ACT — AND ACT FAST! | 19 June, 2020

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The media circus being played out since the last five-six days has dented the image of Bollywood, which has never ever taken such a beating, not even when it was linked to the underworld. That is only one side of the unfortunate story. The other and more unfortunate aspect is that nobody, repeat, nobody is doing anything to restore the prestige of the film industry which feeds millions and entertains crores of people. The rich and famous people in the industry owe their luxurious and palatial homes, cars, clothes, accessories and diamonds to the film industry. They owe their identity to Bollywood. The others in the Hindi film industry also owe a great deal to the industry of which they are a part. But sadly, nobody is coming forward to speak in favour of the industry. Well, almost nobody. Ashoke Pandit, Gajendra Chauhan and trade analyst and your editor Komal Nahta seem to be the only exceptions who are leaving no stone unturned to set the image of Bollywood right. It is baffling that nobody seems to be really concerned about restoring the lost glory of the largest film producing industry of the world. Or, if they are concerned, their concern is manifesting itself merely in the form of words behind closed doors rather than solid action. But that can hardly repair the unimaginable damage which the lies being spoken about the film industry after the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput have done to the reputation of the film industry.

It all started with a couple of people terming Sushant’s suicide as murder committed by the industry people, metaphorically. The television channels and digital websites picked up the juicy gossip and caused untold damage to the image of Bollywood by holding panel discussions which, in most cases, were rigged. In such shows, Bollywood was variously referred to as consisting of scheming people, murderers, opportunists, back-stabbers, rotten individuals, shameless men etc. etc. In fact, Sushant’s suicide soon became but a peg to peddle the story about the so-called ills of the film industry and the high and mighty of the industry. It almost looked like Sushant’s was the first suicide in the world. The story of Sushant’s clinical depression, for which he was being treated, was intentionally kept on the back-burner by the scheming media because that was not good enough fodder to ramp up their TRPs/viewership/readership. The gullible people believed the stories. And just why? The reasons are many but one of the most important one is that the public loves to believe the worst about celebrities (from any field) as it gives them a sense of ‘so what if they have money, name, fame, they are also like us only’. Alternatively, people like to mother their celebrity-idols. In the present case, people, most of who were free at home because of the partial or complete lockdown, believed the worst about people like Karan Johar, Aditya Chopra, Salman Khan, Alia Bhatt etc. These names were being targeted by the industry insiders and the public alike for being supporters and perpetrators of the nepotistic culture in the industry, for being manipulative, scheming, for indulging in campism and groupism.

Frankly, as a nation, we fail to accept that nepotism, favouritism, camps and groups exist everywhere, in every organisation. Even when we leave out some people from the wedding invitee list, aren’t we playing favourites? But do we fight or have panel discussions for that?

All the industry people who suddenly wanted to call themselves ‘outsiders’ so as to differentiate themselves from the children of stars or, as the current favourite word is, products of nepotism, were shouting their lungs out against nepotism. It didn’t matter whether they were successful or failures, they were creating a ruckus. Imagine, a nobody like Amit Sadh was trying to attract attention for not having made it big due to nepotism. Incidentally, one hears, he is leaving the film industry. Coming back to the ones who were creating a din… the logic for their angst was as follows: the successful stars felt, they all could have been Amitabh Bachchan of acting or Kishore Kumar of singing if the ugly nepotism hadn’t come in their way! And the failures wanted to blame their non-existence or existence on the fringes of the industry on nepotism rather than on their lack of talent.

Frankly, which law book or moral science book says, a father or mother can’t bequeath his or her goodwill to the children? And why blame nepotism when so many outsiders, with no connections whatsoever, have made it in the industry? Talented actors right from Amitabh Bachchan to Irrfan Khan entered the industry without any filmi connection, yet made it to the top of their game. And frankly, nepotism exists in films, only and only to the extent it exists in the rest of the world. Can anyone help it if God made humans like that? 

But why is the industry not doing anything to clear the huge blot on its reputation? Either at the association level or unofficially. Some of the insiders need to be taught a lesson for their deplorable behaviour in public to malign the name of the very industry they are a part of and which has given them an identity.

If Bollywood does not take immediate steps to clear its image in the minds of the public, the repercussions are going to be terrible. Bank loans, homes on rent, cars on hire purchase… all these may become difficult to get, for people from Bollywood. Because, as they say, their reputation (in this case, compromised) will precede them.

It is indeed both, appalling and baffling, that an industry which spends so much on promotion of its products, can’t invest time and money on its image-repairing. Everyone’s industry has suddenly become no one’s industry!



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