Say ‘hi’ to the P&P (pampered and privileged) generation. The first time I met Anil Kapoor’s daughter Sonam on the sets of her soon-to-be-her-director Sanjay Bhansali’s Black, I saw this really tall, dusky, sweet and angelic girl eager to prove herself. Little did I now what was in store for her. Sonam was trying her best to make herself useful on the sets. She was eager to learn and was raring to go. The fact that she had just returned from abroad and had the best of education and opportunities only added to her anxiety to prove herself. Spoilt kid? No way! Ranbir Kapoor too is an exact antithesis of what you expect a star-kid to be. Polite, clued-in, alert and computer savvy, Ranbir cannot afford to be anything but the paragon of patience and discipline.
Sonam and Ranbir needed to prove themselves twice as hard as other newcomers. The fact that they belong to two of the most illustrious families of filmdom puts an extra burden on them. Today they’ve done it on their own. Family names apart. It doesn’t matter how talented or charming you are. Being privileged means being persecuted. And I don’t mean just being a star-kid.
Be small, be humble and apologetic about your privileged background. It’s the only way you will get past the producer’s smirking disdain. I think Abhishek, Esha, Karisma, Kareena, Ranbir, Varun, Alia, Sara and Janhvi have had to struggle far harder than the average outsider (some of whom are truly average!). Time and again, they were pulled up for where they came from, so much so that soon they began to believe it was a crime to belong to a film family.
One of them once confessed, “Nothing I do is right. My face, my hair, my body language, facial expressions, they are all supposed to be terrible when compared to my mom’s. What do I do? Should I publicly disown my pedigree and pretend to be this poor jholacarrying struggler from Rohtak who has to sleep her way to the top?”
Relax, my dear. That stereotype is way too passé to be even remotely parodic. Even Mallika Sherawat, who once confessed to me that she had to “claw” her way out of poverty and bigotry, turned out to be indulging in a whole lot selfdelusory romantic hokum.
My dear departed friend Rituparno Ghosh once said to me, “The class of archetypal strugglers who landed at Mumbai Central with dreams in their eyes and Rs 500 in their pocket, who slept on the pavements and danced for amused producers, hoping they’d get a role, died with Dharmendra and Mithun Chakraborty. There are no strugglers in the true sense. Many of these new wannabes drive sports cars and carry glossy portfolios of their pictures. We can’t hold their lack of ‘struggle’ against them.”
Rituparno had more to say. “These young boys and girls are extremely focused because cinema isn’t a meal ticket for them. And by God, they’re so professional! One major upcoming ‘classic’ actress whose first film got her awards galore opted out of my big epic film due to date problems. She didn’t bother to even call me to opt out. She had her business manager send me an SMS, telling me she had quit and why. Now what do you say to that?”
Yup, this is a new forceful and upbeat breed which doesn’t think much of the old role-model of how a star should behave. At the same time, the new P&P breed of wannabes are bigger stars in their heads than Rajesh Khanna ever was or Kumar Gaurav could have ever been.