- Kangana had called KJo Bollywood's 'flag-bearer of nepotism'
- At IIFA, KJo along with Saif and Varun, chanted 'Nepotism Rocks' on stage
- "It's easy to confuse nepotism with genetics," Saif later said
First, the backstory (not that you need it). In February, Kangana Ranaut called Karan Johar Bollywood's 'flag-bearer of nepotism.' At the IIFA Awards last weekend, he recruited Saif Ali Khan and Varun Dhawan to chant 'Nepotism Rocks' on stage, after first having declared they were there, at IIFA and in Bollywood, because of their Mummy and Papas - Karan Johar is the son of producer Yash Johar, Saif Ali Khan's mother is actress Sharmila Tagore, and Varun Dhawan's father is director David Dhawan.
What celebs said in the aftermath of this:
Karan Johar told NDTV: "Of course I don't believe that 'nepotism rocks'. Of course, I believe that only talent rocks. If anything that rocks, it's your talent, hard work and conviction.
Saif Ali Khan told Firstpost: "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... Nepotism is also not to be confused with campism."
We didn't get it, so Saif wrote in an open letter, published by DNA: I'm sorry you found words like eugenics in a conversation about nepotism misplaced. Perhaps if you got your head out of the hemline of the actress of the month and read a book, your vocabulary might improve."
Sonam Kapoor, daughter of Anil Kapoor and related to various Bollywood Kapoors, Googled the word and tweeted it to us:
#fya NEPOTISM: the practice among those with power or influence of favouring RELATIVES or FRIENDS, especially by giving them jobs.— Sonam Kapoor (@sonamakapoor) July 19, 2017
Trolling happened. "Girl knows how to Google," marvelled a tweet. "Don't let your brother actor in any more movies," urged another.
Ranbir Kapoor refreshingly said in a podcast with comedy collective AIB, "Of course it exists. I'm sitting here next to you guys (because of nepotism)." But then, he kind of ruined it by discussing how difficult it made his life: "I became an actor because of my family and because I got the opportunity, and the thing is you don't really get credit for your success because everyone just looks down upon your success."
Here's another word Bollywood knows and has, indeed, learnt by rote - denial. In the weeks that followed Kangana Ranaut's original comment - made in the presence of Saif Ali Khan on an episode of Koffee With Karan - several actors attempted to shut down the notion that favouritism or string-pulling might exist in Bollywood. Sonam called it 'mud-slinging' and Kangana 'entertaining,' her fellow star kid Alia Bhatt said too much was being made of it, Anushka Sharma and Swara Bhaskar denied that Bollywood is or can be nepotistic.
The privileged in the film industry argue that last names only get you the first film. There's no contesting the democracy of the box office - the list of Salman Khan, Alia Bhatt, generations of Kapoors and Aamir Khan, who has really made the best possible use of his birth advantage, is balanced by the likes of Fardeen Khan, Zayed Khan, Kajol's sister Tanishaa and Uday Chopra.
Ultimately, it is ability that is rewarded, as proven by a roster of actors that includes the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar and, yes, Kangana Ranaut. So check your privilege on Friday, Bollywood. Your on your own from there.