Why Kangana Ranaut did no wrong by calling out Karan Johar's nepotism
He needed to be told that his film background doesn’t make him a self-proclaimed God of Bollywood.
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The word "nepotism", used by Kangana Ranaut in one of the episodes of Koffee with Karan to refer to the practices of host Karan Johar himself, recently found itself in the eye of a storm.
Social media was abuzz with applause for the young actor, who entered the turf of the mighty film producer-director and spat sweet venom at him.
A section of the film industry and social media also criticised her for being outright rude to Karan Johar on national television and dubbed it a petty publicity stunt.
The 29-year-old actor, who is a three-time National Award winner, said, “In my biopic, if ever it's made, you'll play that stereotypical Bollywood biggie, who is like you know, very snooty and completely intolerant towards outsiders, flag-bearer of nepotism, the movie mafia."
Later, at an LSE event, Karan Johar had exclaimed that he is done with Kangana playing the victim card and said she could leave the industry if it were so bad.
It looks like the industry has now come together against Kangana’s statement on nepotism.
From Aamir Khan to Sonam Kapoor, most of the top Bollywood stars directly or indirectly turned down Kangana’s claim that Bollywood is plagued by nepotism and that there is little acceptance of talent from outside.
Sonam Kapoor spoke in favour of Karan Johar and snidely called Kangana "entertaining".
Can anybody remind Sonam of the grandeur with which she was launched by none other than Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Saanwariya, opposite another sought-after Kapoor, the then debutant Ranbir?
What else can a newcomer ask for? After all, there are only few actresses in Bollywood who have been fortunate enough to work with Bhansali.
There is no denying that her surname saved her from the struggle that several who don't belong to Bollywood families have to go through.
She has taken almost a decade to acquire acting skills and delivered some of her best, including Neerja, only recently. On the contrary, Kangana was brilliant right from the time of her debut Gangster, and never stopped delivering stellar performances.
Also, what makes a section of the film fraternity uncomfortable is Kangana's capability to help her films cross the Rs 100 crore-mark without needing an actor from the Khan trio to be a co-star.
She is straightforward and owns her rebellious streak in a way no other female actor of her time can. She manages to say what others in the industry consider suicidal for one’s career.
The film industry largely runs on acquaintances. Why would any sane actor get embroiled in a tiff with a Bollywood biggie? Kangana does so with no fear of losing opportunities because she has complete faith in her talent.
Perhaps, her PR machinery too doesn’t advise her against speaking her mind, for it knows what makes Kangana, the Kangana Ranaut.
With three National Awards, Kangana comes second only to veteran actor Shabana Azmi, who has won five national awards in her career.
This, in itself, speaks volumes about Kangana’s talent as an actor.
What was wrong in calling Karan Johar a flag-bearer of nepotism?
After all, Karan Johar is not an Aditya Chopra who offers breaks to newcomers and makes their careers.
To name a few who debuted with Yash Raj Films: Parineeti Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh and Bhumi Pednekar.
In fact, Anushka Sharma, in her response to the "nepotism" controversy, said, "The production house which launched me, I can't talk like that about them because they gave an outsider like me a chance.
They did have an option to take any industry kid at that time, but Aditya Chopra put faith in me. I can talk about my experience and I've never faced nepotism in any way.
Whether this happens or not, everybody has their own experiences. May be it happens but I can never say this about Aditya.”
In fact, Karan Johar has mentioned in myriad interviews that he had strongly advised his friend, Aditya Chopra against casting Anushka in her debut film Rab ne Bana de Jodi .
He had said, “I asked Adi not to cast her. When he showed me her photographs, I was like, ‘Are you mad? What are you thinking?’ I would look at her and think what really did he see in her."
Later, he mentioned in his interviews that he was so wrong in his judgment of her. No one would know how many newcomers didn’t see a good role coming their way because Johar decided to drop a veto on their golden opportunity.
During the promotions of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, the film produced and directed by Karan Johar,
Anushka had said, “I always wanted to be part of Karan’s film so I don’t care what happened before.
Someone who didn’t want me to be in any films and taking me in his own film is a big achievement.”
Given the manner in which the industry runs the business of casting actors, Anushka may have said that she doesn’t care about Karan’s veto on her selection as the lead in her debut film, yet that incident testifies in favour of Kangana’s statement that Johar is a movie mafia.
Kangana is one of the highest paid actors in Bollywood, with earnings worth Rs. 11.98 crore and ranked 64th in 2014 Forbes India Celebrity 100 list.
In 2015, the same list showed her earnings rising to Rs. 18.63 crore, moving her 24 places to rank 43.
This too earns her the scorn of the film industry, which, perhaps, is averse to seeing the meteoric rise of an opinionated "outsider.
At the peak of one’s career, I wonder why anybody as successful and talented as Kangana would want to play the victim card.
She is viewed as one of those rare female actors of her time who can manage to pull off any role with finesse and bowl the audience over with her performance.
Bollywood won’t get her point. It is so used to the coos, the cheek-to-cheek kisses and the blatant mutual promotion as seen on Karan Johar’s show that the idea of an actress speaking her mind with fearlessness appears alien to the fraternity.
Despite Bollywood being hugely supportive of star kids, there have been actors who have made a mark only by the dint of their talent.
Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan, Anushka Sharma, Swara Bhaskar, Sushant Singh Rajput and few others have crafted a niche for themselves in the film industry without having a godfather.
The truth, however, remains that none of them was cast by Karan Johar.
A big thank you to Kangana for telling KJo what she thinks about him to his face, on his own show, without any fear or apprehensions.
Perhaps, Johar needed to be told that his Bollywood background doesn’t make him a self-proclaimed God of Bollywood.
And that outsiders too can build their castles of success in the ruthlessly cut-throat Bollywood.