In response to Anupama Chopra from Film Companion,
India quickly polarized when Hindi film actor, Sushant Singh Rajput, died. Although his death was immediately ruled as a suicide, many were quick to point out that his treatment in the industry was the actual cause. With an ongoing campaign to make Sushant’s case known to every Indian, film audiences have actively boycotted films starring “star-kids.”
According to actress Prachi Desai, the Hindi film industry is a family industry. Simply put, the industry favors the children of already famous actors, directors, writers and producers. They have access to opportunities that most can barely get an audition for. Actress Radhika Madan stated that she had to beg for audition for a film where a star-kid was going to be in regardless of an audition. Eventually, she got the audition and won the part from the kid. Nepotism is clearly dominates the industry but many ignore it solely due to fear. However, the fans and audience of Hindi films decided to make their hatred of nepotism heard.
Large production companies can create great content for the audience to watch. However, that content may only be saved for “star-kids” also known as insiders. Star-kids are children, or some other relative, of major film influencers, like directors, producers, and actors. They grew up surrounded by the big names and game changers of the industry. This alone provides them with opportunities that many “outsiders” (aka, those with no relation to the film industry can only dream of). Many outsiders cannot even get an audition for a film, whereas a star-kid can with simple name recognition. However, many star-kids don’t even have to audition. Some outsiders can make it through but must stay quiet about the nepotism, the corruption, and the very fragile egos of the men running those companies. The audience, moreover, doesn’t have to stay silent. After Sushant’s death, the Indian audience began to boycott films starring star-kids which were produced by production companies who promote nepotism.
A renowned Indian film critic, Anupama Chopra, recently wrote an essay talking about the harmful effects of boycotting films filled with nepotism. She believes that this boycott will kill content; that, many of the films with nepotism are good films. Therefore, boycotting these films will hurt the industry. Although it’s not hard to understand Chopra’s point, boycotting isn’t about rejecting good content. Rather, it’s choosing to not support an industry that only have favors one class of people.
By watching films produced by Dharma Productions or produced by Mahesh Bhatt, audiences will still be supporting production houses that participate in active discrimination of “outsiders.” I agree with Chopra that “what’s in the frame is important,” but the rest is not noise. It’s like saying that how the iPhones work is what matter, not the labor trafficking victims who made them. Yes, there are other actors, writers, and producers involved in the nepotism films. And, we should support them. But, they’re still an indirect part of the corruption. It’s an unfortunate collateral consequence that their work in those nepotism films may not be recognized. (Hopefully, the boycotts will make these production companies change their ways and be more supportive of outsiders so this won’t be a consequence later on.)
Fans should not be trolling, threatening, or engaging in any type of bullying. Rather, they should state why they’re not watching the film or even watching the trailer. Sushant’s death has become the face of the insider-outsider caste debate. In a way, boycotting nepotism is justice for Sushant. However, fans should be more mindful how they participate in this debate. Bullying the film industry only gives them more fuel. Since ample of evidence shows that film industry likes to bully others, fans should not do the same. Like Michelle Obama says, “when they go low, we go high.”
Moreover, fans should actively seek content made by outsiders. It’s not enough to unfollow star kids, troll them, and boycott their films. The audience must watch films not made by these “filmly families.” This will make the industry a more equitable place.
It’s easy to polarize and bully others. Fighting fire with fire only makes everything around us burn. Please, stop the nasty trolling, stop threatening people, and stop bullying. Give your boycott purpose through activism. Use your energy to not hate, but to express concern. Don’t go out of your way to hate or bully someone. Simply take the opportunity of nepotism succeeding away from them.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned!