Republic Day is about celebrating the power of the common man. In the political scenario, that’s become evident this year more than ever before. As nepotism makes way for the rank outsider, we look at the other field — Bollywood — where outsiders have always had to struggle against those within the clique; where not having a famous relative can close many doors.
We look at four people, Swara Bhaskar, Rajkummar Rao, Reema Kagti and Richa Chadda, — common men and women — who’ve got more than a foot in the door, and who are looking to battle the odds to make it big.
‘Working in a movie is hard work’
Richa Chadda, actor
I consider myself very lucky, because the people I came to Bombay with and my contemporaries from my theatre days are still struggling. I got Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008) when I was doing a play.
Working in a movie is hard work. You have to go for days without proper sleep, food or meeting your family. Star kids have it easier; they are groomed from day one to step into their parents’ shoes. It is almost a given that the child of an actor, no matter that he or she is just a character actor and not a superstar, will become an actor. They even get good chances without proving their talent.
‘The industry is welcoming to people who have passion to succeed’
Rajkummar Rao, actor
Making the cut in the industry wasn’t exactly easy for me. I think what really helped me was when I met Atul Mongia, casting director of Love Sex Aur Dhoka (2010) and later (director) Dibakar Banerjee. This industry is definitely open to outsiders, if you know your work and craft. If that wasn’t the case, there would be no Shah Rukh Khan. The industry is very welcoming to anyone who has the passion to succeed.
‘Gamble for newcomers is greater and luck is very important’
Swara Bhaskar, actor
I would like to believe that I work hard because I’m serious about my work. You have to work hard whether you are a star kid or not. The gamble for newcomers is greater and luck is very important. I was very lucky when I landed Tanu Weds Manu (2011). Also, you have to be very particular about the kind of movies you do. Of course there is a struggle to get the kind of work you want, but I didn’t have to. Those who struggle do it for years, but I landed my first film three months after I came to Mumbai. There are plenty of people better than me, but just not as lucky as me.
‘It was difficult to try to prove yourself to people’
Reema Kagti, director
In my experience, anyone who has some kind of talent will definitely make it here. It isn’t that there is no struggle, but there is a different set of struggles for everyone. The challenges are different for star kids and newcomers, but neither is more or less. I started as an assistant director and later wrote a script, but it didn’t go anywhere. Then I got the chance with Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd (2007). It was difficult because it was a big jump from being an AD to a writer-director. I don’t have any connections, so it was difficult to try to prove myself to people.