Why I'm glad Kangana Ranaut shamed Karan Johar about dynasty politics in Bollywood

Asking the actress to leave Bollywood was plain hypocritical.

 |  5-minute read |   08-03-2017
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In a delightful episode of Koffee with Karan, reigning Bollywood diva Kangana Ranaut blasted Karan Johar (in good humour mostly, one must say) over his show, his clout and dynastic connections.

She said quite a lot of things, but the crowning moment was probably when she let loose — “In my biopic, if it’s ever made, you’ll be the stereotypical Bollywood biggie who is snooty and completely intolerant to outsiders. Flag-bearer of nepotism. The movie mafia.”

Karan was totally flustered and speechless and took many days to muster up a reaction saying, “I’m done with Kangana playing the woman and victim card. I am done. You cannot be this victim every time and have a sad story to tell about how you’ve been terrorised by the bad world of the industry, leave it.”

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So, how about taking Kangana as your lead heroine and launching a new non-dynast hero in the next film you direct?  

Ouch!

While this clearly shows how hurt he was, the last two words were totally counter-productive. If someone accuses you of being an industry mafia and you turn around and tell that person to quit the industry, then you’ve just proven yourself to be indeed that mafia.

Counter a mafia don in his city and the first thing he’ll tell you is to quit the city or else! Don Karanleone!

Karan himself has been bullied so many times by various groups and so him telling someone to quit if they’ve been terrorised and not fight is extremely hypocritical.

While we take the Bollywood dynasty (sorry Kangana, movie mafia) totally for granted, how much it has pervaded the box office business is quite surprising. For starters take a look at the Bollywood Rs100-crore club. There are more than 50 movies in that list now, so let’s just focus on the Top 20.

As many as six films in that list have a dynast as both the main hero and heroine: Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, 3 Idiots, Dabangg 2, Bodyguard and Singham Returns. Around 10 have at least one main dynast as lead star: Dangal, PK, Sultan, Dhoom 3, Krrish 3, Kick, Ek Tha Tiger, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Bang Bang! (all heroes) and finally Dilwale (the heroine).

That leaves only four movies with non-dynastic lead pairs: Chennai Express (which debuts at a lowly eighth place, making the Top 7 fully dynastic affairs), Happy New Year (which you could discount because it also has Abhishek Bachchan), Bajirao Mastani (which could also be discounted because Ranveer may not be a star son, but he is related to the Anil Kapoor dynasty) and finally Tanu Weds Manu Returns

Now Chennai Express director is Rohit Shetty, whose father MB Shetty was a stunt director in films such as Deewar and Don. So from that angle, 19 of the 20 films have a dynastic hero/heroine/director.

And the only film that made it to the Top 20 without the dynasty — no surprise — is Tanu Weds Manu Returns. And it stars Kangana Ranuat. So this diva is actually in a league of her own. Can you blame her for wanting to give it back to the "movie mafia" (incidentally, she’s there in Krrish 3 too)?

Let us look at the male movie superstar. I am making this point because Bollywood revolves around the male superstar.

Hollywood may revolve around superhero franchises, good storylines, special effects and legendary directors. But in Bollywood it’s nothing but the male superstar. 

Every Bollywood director will first try to rope in a male superstar and after that the storyline, direction, marketing and film distribution will be worked around his aura. Even the main heroine is just a dispensable fill-in-the-blank kind of thing.

Of the three Khans, only Shah Rukh Khan is a non-dynast, but he too is fading. If you look at other male stars who have come out with big hits since 2000, then it’s: Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Hrithik Roshan and Ranbir Kapoor.

Again the only non-dynast is Akshay and it is no surprise that he is the most underrated and underplayed actor and seems to have the least amount of muscle in the film distribution and award function business even though he married into the Rajesh Khanna dynasty.

In fact, the king of the film distribution business is Aditya Chopra. So, dynasty and business, dynasty and money are almost synonymous.

The advantage begins at the entry level. If you are part of a dynasty then your chances of making a debut film are near cent per cent. You can even go 10-15 films without a big hit and still get roles.

A lot of star children act absolutely shoddy in their first few films, but prove to be fine actors by their tenth or twentieth film. Makes you think just about anybody can act, but the dynasty will only get so many chances.

So enough chances with the entire movie mafia rooting for you means a dynast has a near cent per cent chance of success making the achievements of people like Kangana even more significant.

Dynasts will tend to stick to dynasts. Just look at Karan himself. He is yet to cast a non-dynast leading pair in his directorial ventures. All of them have at least one dynast in the leading role. Every one of them.

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (Salman, Kajol, Rani Mukerji), Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (Kajol, Hrithik, Kareena), Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (Rani, Abhishek) My Name Is Khan (Kajol), Student of the Year (Aliya Bhatt, Varun Dhawan) and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (Ranbir).

So, how about taking Kangana as your lead heroine and launching a new non-dynast hero in the next film you direct? Are you up to it Karan? Otherwise, as Kangana said, you will continue to be the flag-bearer of nepotism.

Yes, Karan Johar, you're very much a part of the movie mafia!

Also read: Karan Johar saying Kangana Ranaut is playing 'victim' is also sexism

Writer

Sunil Rajguru Sunil Rajguru @sunilrajguru

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.

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