- Rohit Shetty directed Sara in 2018 film 'Simmba'
- 'Simmba' marked Sara Ali Khan's second film
- Tweets about "normalising nepotism" poured in on Twitter
On Wednesday, Rohit Shetty popped up on the Twitter trend list after the Internet chanced upon an old clip from when he appeared on The Kapil Sharma Show with his Simmba star Sara Ali Khan. What he said in the clip has enraged Twitter, which is currently very sensitive to the topics of nepotism and favouritism in the film industry. Simmba was the second film for Sara, daughter of actors Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh and Rohit Shetty's story of how he happened to cast her in the role has raised hackles on social media. By his own account, all Sara, "Saif Ali Khan ki beti," had to do was plead with Rohit Shetty for work and the role was hers.
In the video, Rohit Shetty says that seeing Amrita Singh and Saif Ali Khan's daughter asking for work made him emotional. "Now that she's become a star, I can say this - 'Sir please give me work'. She literally did that (showing folded hands)... she's Saif Ali Khan's daughter. Amrita Singh and Saif Ali Khan's daughter walking into my office all by herself and asking a director for work... I felt like crying. I said 'You do a movie,'" the filmmaker says. Simmba, starring Ranveer Singh in the title role, released in 2018.
Definition of 'Struggle' for Star Kids! pic.twitter.com/xCmGpJt5wL— Bhaiyyaji (@bhaiyyajispeaks) August 19, 2020
Rohit Shetty may have been understating Sara Ali Khan's audition process and overstating his own motivation for signing her up but, even assuming this version of events is an exaggerated one, it's a fairly good example of just how welcoming Bollywood is of aspiring actors with the right lineage and connections and how much easier it is for them to find their own space than it is for those without a last name to recommend them.
Tweets about "normalising nepotism" poured in on Twitter as reactions to the viral video - this tweet sums up the general sentiment.
Rohit Shetty said he cried and gave the role instantly when sara ali khan asked for a role.— Riya Singh (@i_mRiyaSingh) August 19, 2020
Because, she is "saif ali khan ki beti"
Thousands of normal kids beg for roles, get rejected and ignored.
Clapping on these stupid stories is how we have normalized nepotism. pic.twitter.com/i5k4MJL6qa
Rohit Shetty's comments on Sara Ali Khan coming to see him all by herself and his confession of "Rona a gaya (I felt like crying)" also prompted a meme fest on Twitter:
Rohit Shetty ki baate sunke rona aa gya pic.twitter.com/lTDJJsX1ZW— kհαɾցօsհ ???? (@Pdg091) August 19, 2020
Rohit Shetty, found a struggler in Sara before struggling was cool. pic.twitter.com/koF6ATCam9— LE God (@ArpanMishra13) August 19, 2020
Im sure rohit shetty will never give a chance for outsiders as a leadrole. And my dear struggling ppl don't go to his office for beginning the role he won't even allow you to touch his gate. #RohitShetty well done pic.twitter.com/D700aHVEOF— vidyuth (@vidyuthraj1995) August 19, 2020
Awesome Rohit Shetty. Did she came walking in bmw or Mercedes? pic.twitter.com/3WjayBoObo— kartikay singh (@kartikay83) August 19, 2020
Film circle insiders defend themselves by saying that last names take one only so far and certainly there are plenty of 'star kids' who fall by the wayside. This defence glosses over the essence of how nepotism and favouritism actually benefits those admitted into these rarefied circles - perhaps this is best exemplified in actor Manoj Bajpayee's story of the incredible hardships and obstacles he overcame just to get a foot in the door, related on the Facebook page Humans of Bombay. As he tells it, Manoj Bajpayee lived in a chawl, struggled to make rent, lost multiple projects, and had barely enough money to buy food. He was suicidal and struggled for years before being cast in TV show Swabhimaan and then, eventually, in Satya.
Compare this to Sara Ali Khan asking Rohit Shetty for work and promptly landing a film. As actor Siddhant Chaturvedi said in an interview with film critic Rajeev Masand, "Everybody has their own struggle. The difference is where our dreams come true, their struggle begins."
The word nepotism has been dogging the film industry for some years now and has gathered momentum again after Sushant Singh Rajput's death in June, allegedly by suicide. Sushant was Sara's first co-star in her debut film, 2017's Kedarnath.
Sara Ali Khan was last seen in Love Aaj Kal and will next be seen in Atrangi Re, in which she co-stars with Akshay Kumar and Dhanush.