It’s (not) in the blood

The one thing that currently defies logic is that how can a said person have a particular talent just because his/her parents have it, especially in the field of art? I can understand a doctor or an engineer parent teaching their child the craft that they deal with over a period of time. But how can you teach your child how to paint, dance, sing? Act? Of course, to a certain extent these things too can be taught, but if they don’t come naturally to someone, they’ll never be good at it. My parents put me in painting class when I was a child, but over the years, I just realised that I wasn’t meant for it, that I didn’t have the calm it required and that I was more inclined towards the art of writing.

Last year, while promoting Rangoon, Kangana Ranaut had very confidently stated on Karan Johar’s Koffee With Karan and if a biopic was ever made on her, Johar would play this “flag bearer of nepotism”. This very fire of nepotism was always burning, but it didn’t have a person to ignite it. Kangana Ranaut did just that. She just made a statement very casually, as if she was speaking about something that was generally spoken of. Everyone always knew nepotism existed, but before Ranaut, no one had the courage to speak up against it, that too on a chat show so popular and, for the lack of a better term, elite. And then Rangoon didn’t work. In the same year, her Simran also didn’t work. Everyone started blaming Ranaut and her ‘nepotism’ comment for her own downfall. But could one stop this powerhouse performer who has given us performances like Queen and Tanu Weds Manu? Perhaps, not! If there is talent, it’ll find itself some work or the other.

What’ll also find you work is an influential last name, especially in Hindi Cinema and its tributaries. And this is nothing new. No one spoke about using daddy’s name when Sunny Deol got into the business, or when Kareena Kapoor did, or even when Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan did some six years back. So why now? Why is Ishaan Khattar signing a Majid Majidi film as his debut such a huge deal? Why is Suhana Khan on the Vogue cover such a huge deal? With the social media boom that we’re going through currently, there is a lot more free space to make sure that your opinions reach hundreds of people, if not more. Plus, we always have Kangana Ranaut to thank for starting this debate. I’ve been a part of Bollywood media for some time now, about three years now, and I’ve seen it before Ranaut made her statement and after it. Let’s divide these two periods as ‘pre-nepotism’ and ‘post-nepotism’, even though nepotism existed in both the periods. In the pre-nepotism period, if a Suhana Khan woke up one day and thought, “I think I’m ready for a Vogue cover”, it would have been normal, and appreciated. People would say that she’s making correct use of the opportunity. Today, people might still say that she’s making good use of the opportunity but has the opportunity come too soon, and without actually deserving it? Does Suhana Khan deserve a Vogue cover, or any other cover for that matter, is not something I’m questioning right now. All I’m trying to state is that this girl, still in her later teens, who hasn’t even signed a film, let alone shot for one, gets a cover and they make it seem like the most normal thing on earth. I didn’t write anything when Janhvi Kapoor got her first Vogue cover because at least she had signed and shot for an entire film. At that point, the question wasn’t ‘why is Janhvi Kapoor on the cover, what has she done in life?’ but rather there was a rhetoric, ‘will she be able to prove herself,’ with both yes and no as answers.

Suhana Khan might be practicing theatre and evolving as an actor by the day, and maybe she’s a terrific actor, who knows. But doing theatre in your fancy school abroad does not qualify for a cover, I’m sorry. I read the part of the interview that Vogue India has put up on their website, and even though it’s written well, it shouts nepotism. Like the part where Khan mentions that her parents spoke to her about the idea (of being on the cover) and she wanted to say yes immediately. How many of us get such an opportunity, even when we haven’t graduated from school? Shahrukh Khan, in the interview, mentions that he wants his kids to be launched not because they’re star kids but because of their acting capability. Then don’t put them on the cover of India’s leading fashion magazine! Don’t say one thing and do the other. Wait. Let her do a film, then these things come naturally in the name of promotions.

Why I’m not against giving star kids a film or two to prove their worth is because I believe that everyone deserves a chance to be able to prove if they can do it or not. Yes, giving them multiple chances, as is the case in Bollywood, is the wrong thing to do. There is a pool of brilliant, terrific performers out there, they too deserve a chance. There’s probably another Kangana Ranaut, or another Rajkumar Rao sitting at an audition, that never materialised because a new Khan or a new Kapoor felt like he/she was now ready to do a film.

I have also been a teenager at a point in my life, until just two years back in fact, but I didn’t see my face on the cover of an elitist magazine. Do you, Vogue India, realise, that by putting Suhana Khan on the cover, not only broken the hearts of many of those who deserve to be there (Hima Das) but also their dreams, their hopes.

I don’t have a hatred towards anyone, never have, never will, but my point being that Miss Khan has done absolutely nothing on her own to be on the cover when she has plans of going to university in the coming year. Yes, if she comes back and proves that she’s worthy of being on every cover there ever was, I’d love that! Until then, it isn’t a ‘Hello Suhana Khan’ from my side…

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