Anushka Sharma: You can’t blame star kids for nepotism in Bollywood
The lack of a film family background and zero links with Bollywood didn’t stand in the way of Anushka Sharma’s stardom. And 10 years after her debut, she feels a lot of “contentment and gratitude” for everything that she has got.
“I’m thankful for the films that I’ve been able to do, for the opportunities that I’ve been given and the love that I’ve received,” says the actor, who entered cinema with a bang — in a lead role opposite Shah Rukh Khan in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008).
Amid the debate around nepotism, which heats up every time a star kid makes his or her Bollywood debut, Anushka, the outsider who hit the big league, has said little or nothing. Her name, however, usually crops up in such a debate, alongside that of other outsiders-turned-stars such as Deepika Padukone, Sidharth Malhotra, and Rajkummar Rao, as examples of how the family name isn’t everything.
On this, Anushka says, “I’m definitely taking a break from this question, because I think this has been debated way too much. I think if there were more important debates around what actually happens in this country, then maybe we could have [become] much better, but that’s not happening. Everybody is debating nepotism. I have nothing else to add to it.”
However, she does add something. “There are always pros and cons in everything and every situation you are in,” says Anushka. “Yes, there’s a lot of hype around star kids, while we, coming from the outside, are the underdogs. We don’t have, I’d say, that much pressure to perform well. Yes, the opportunities might be more for them, but at the same time, there are pros and cons to everyone’s lives.”
Anushka has worked with industry kid Varun Dhawan — he’s the son of veteran Hindi filmmaker David Dhawan — in her latest release. She sums up the whole nepotism debate by saying, “When I’m working with a star kid or non-star kid, I’m not thinking that the other person is working any less. Also, I feel you can’t blame actors for [nepotism]. You can, maybe, blame the people who are responsible for nepotism, but you can’t blame actors or star kids for it. At the end of the day, all that people want is the acknowledgement that yes, there’s a sense [that nepotism exists], but I think beyond that it’s just a useless conversation.”
With films such as Band Baaja Baaraat (2010), PK (2014), NH10 (2015), Sultan (2016), and Pari, Anushka’s filmography boasts a spectrum of roles. Asked how she has evolved over her decade-long career as an artist and also a producer, she shares, “It’s important to grow as a person and an actor. It’s important to reinvent yourself with each film. We’re very lucky that we’re working in this day and age where we get accepted in even films like October and Pari, and also films like Judwaa 2 and Sultan, which are typically commercial. We’re fortunate that we can strike that balance and that’s what we strive to do as actors, because it’s important to reinvent and make yourself interesting with each film. Or you’d become a very boring person.”
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