As the tragic Sushant Singh Rajput saga continues to ignite popular imagination – with Tolly’s Srilekha Mitra adding fuel to fire – it might be a good time to pause and take a long hard look at these issues objectively.
Nepotism wasn’t born yesterday and nor was it introduced by Bollywood. Bloodline, family ties and chip of the old block have been there for ages, an accepted fact of life. Let’s face it: which successful father wouldn’t like his kids to follow his line of work? Sports, Hospitality, Healthcare, Education – examples abound, with the report card recording varied degrees of success. Agreed, unlike movies, the other vocations have entry-point qualifiers – [Tests, viva’s, interviews, etc.] but the basic parental desire for their off spring to follow in their footsteps remains universal. Sure, star-kids have an easier entry into the movies but once they are in, it’s not their doting Dads, Godfathers, Production Houses or P.R. machinery that call the shots, but the hydra-headed monster called Public! Who knows it better than the likes of Tushar Kapoor, Sanjay Kapoor, Kumar Gaurav, Sohail, Arbaaz Khan and gang? As for trained and gifted talents being ignored, that time is pretty much over. The aam admi thobdas of Vicky Kaushal, Ayushman Khurana and Raj Kumar Rao will surely allow me to rest my case! As for SSR, conspiracy theories will continue to surface ad infinitum, because dead men tell no tales. Who is to examine the veracity of these zillion articles, interviews, insights, asides and sound bytes by everyone and their buddhi aunts?! And who can stop a marauding media – Social, Twitter, FB, Insta – and a ravenous consumer-base forever wanting more ...?
Next, Favouritism and Partiality. C’mon guys, isn’t that a part of human nature? Don’t many parents have an (unspoken) soft spot for one particular off spring? Don’t you have a little more shine for one particular friend, cousin, colleague, teacher, boss? The same applies to Film Biz too. As for Srilekha’s allegation that despite her proven talent & hits, she was side-tracked by the machinations of the Prosenjit-Rituparna Sengupta team and all that went with it, this comes with the territory. As actor Saswat Chatterjee pointed out with brilliant focus, these blimps & glitches will always happen in any industry, there is unlikely to be any divine intervention and the solution is to try & get over the (understandable) bitterness, anger, shock & frustration & move ahead with new hope and confidence determined to surmount it. It’s human nature to have favourites and prefer working in comfort zones ... and if these favourites are a pair that is loved by the masses [Uttam-Suchitra, Raj-Nargis, Amitabh-Rekha, Dharam-Hema, SRK-Kajol] it’s Sone pe Suhaga! Agreed, there will always be isolated cases of interest going beyond the professional, but that again it’s everywhere. Haven’t we heard of Romeo-Bosses or Big shots in the media or Corporate Houses being over-sweet to one particular journo, intern or manager? Same with a Professor with a glad-eye for a pretty pupil. If movies & move-stars scream centre-stage , it’s because they are soft targets, mouth-watering consumer perishables up for grabs with total licence from anybody for any opinion or view to sling their way.
At the end of the day, one thought – offered by a bright friend, Sharmistha Goswami Chatterjee who happens to be the Programme head of a Kolkata-based popular Bengali channel 24 hours – is worth introspecting. While agreeing that life is not customised & perfect and hardly ever offers a level playing field, she wonders if it’s too much to expect a sense of moral responsibility/obligation from the movers n’ shakers & decision-makers [Movie Moghuls & Talent Agency heavies] towards the fall guy – the actor replaced, dumped, de-railed. It’s about empathy, feeling, being sensitive, thoughtful and reaching out to the Sushant Singh Rajputs’ & Srilekhas’ of the world with a healing touch. Assuring them that it’s not the end of the world, promising to facilitate something equally interesting & exciting ASAP and making sure to walk the talk. If not anything else, it will ease the pain, lessen the sting and allow them to [slowly but surely] transit from darkness to light. It costs little but is worth a lot and can make a world of difference to broken souls suddenly hurtled – for reasons unknown – to Nowhere land.
Is it too much to ask?