I'm scrolling through my YouTube suggestions, and up pops the trailer for the movie Dhadak, starring newcomer Jhanvi Kapoor. A part of me is excited. I like when new actors are introduced, tired of the same 50 year old heroes parading around pretending to be 20. And Jhanvi Kapoor seems like a nice person in her interviews and press conferences.
But yet, there's a small, nagging feeling in me as well. A whisper, a flutter: nepotism.
Bollywood is known for its elaborate song numbers, cliche yet delectable romances, and iconic actors. Yet, it's also known for its somewhat rampant nepotism, when people in power favor their relatives, siblings, and children for jobs and opportunities.
Now, there's nothing wrong with a child wanting to follow their parent's career. If you want to be a teacher like your dad, or a doctor like your mother, go ahead. Be amazing. Parents are the people we look up to, the people we trust with our secrets and look up to for advice. We are bound to find inspiration in them, especially when it comes to our professional endeavors and future careers.
The problem isn't that children of famous actors are pursuing the craft honed by their parents. The problem is that children of famous actors, such as Jhanvi Kapoor, are being favored for roles over other actors who may not come from such a prosperous background. The problem is when Suhana Khan (who may be lovely and talented in her own right), is featured on the cover of Vogue, despite not having any fashion or acting accomplishments other than being the daughter of Shah Rukh Khan.
She isn't an anomaly by any means. It's been happening time and time again, from Rishi Kapoor to Ranbir Kapoor, from Sharmila Tagore to Saif Ali Khan and more.
Nobody is denying that these people are wonderful actors. They are. Some of them are among my personal favorites. But we cannot deny the privilege from which they arise and establish their careers, privilege that many struggling actors are not offered.
To the industry I admire and the culture I love, I only ask that you seek actors from all areas and backgrounds, that you not become your own brand of royalty like the British monarchy, that your craft isn't only limited to your children and grand-children.
India has literally billions of people. There are probably many, many talented people to choose from.
(And, while we're at it, can we get more actresses with dark skin? Just a thought...)