And so it did - who could forget Hameshaa, once seen? But for Saif, or any other son/daughter of a famous parent, to say they had an 'uneven beginning' despite their lineage is to miss the point by a mile - that they had a beginning at all, 'uneven' or otherwise, with zero struggle and without having to knock on a single door is exactly what privilege constitutes. A failure to recognise this demeans the very real achievements of those who had no help in the film industry while starting out, from Kangana Ranaut to the likes of Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who now shares equal screen time with the Khans after decades of languishing overlooked in obscure roles.
"It's easy to confuse nepotism with genetics. Maybe there is something in the genes too that makes many of Raj Kapoor's descendants actors or Pataudis cricketers. I think it's actually eugenics and genetics that's coming into play," Saif Ali Khan told Firstpost. That's a farrago of Tharoor-like proportions, if you will. We're as confused by Saif's use of the term 'eugenics' as you are - perhaps he truly believes that actors are genetically superior? How else could they beat up 10 heavies at once while propping up a swooning maiden with one arm without turning a (slickly gelled) hair?
"Nepotism is also not to be confused with campism," Saif said, adding, "Nepotism is Donald Trump putting his son at the helm of things instead of someone more suited for the job." Would that be like a director/producer casting his son/daughter/nephew/niece/friend/relative/friend's child in a film instead of someone more suited for the role?
"Nevertheless, to me at IIFA it was just a joke and nothing more to be read into. But now I feel had we given it more thought, we could've really finished this ongoing public discourse on nepotism more decisively," Saif Ali Khan said to Firstpost. He told India Today that he had texted an apology to Kangana.
It all began when Kangana Ranaut told Karan Johar on his chat show Koffee With Karan some months ago that he was the 'flag-bearer of nepotism' in Bollywood. Some public wrangling followed, via various interviews. Then, last weekend, Karan and Saif, co-hosts at IIFA, and actor Varun Dhawan chorused 'Nepotism rocks' on stage, after invoking their famous parents. The jibe, made in Kangana Ranaut's absence, was noted and deplored widely.
Varun was the first to apologise, posting this tweet:
I express my apology and regret .. I am extremely sorry if I have offended or hurt anyone with that act..— Varun Dhawan (@Varun_dvn) July 18, 2017
Karan Johar offered a clarification to NDTV, explaining that it was meant to be a joke that he took responsibility for and regretted.
And now, we have this lesson on nepotism vs genetics from Saif Ali Khan to help us navigate the tricky terrain of Bollywood politics. Please accept our thanks.
(Gitanjali Roy is Senior Executive Editor, Entertainment and Non-News, NDTV Convergence)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.