Nepotism 2.0: After actors, now filmmakers open up about brush with biases, hope for a level playing field
Filmmakers Onir, Madhur Bhandarkar, Leena Yadav, Vasan Bala and Hitesh Kewalya share how wading through the existing camps and gangs in Bollywood isn’t easy, but one needs to hang in there.Updated: Aug 13, 2020 18:51 IST
Dialogues around the existence of nepotism and favouritism in Bollywood have been on for quite some time now. However, everyone, till now, has majorly talked about actors — insiders having an easy access and outsiders losing out on good projects. But what probably goes unnoticed is that filmmakers, too, face such biases that act as roadblocks in their creative flow. Here, we talk to some of the critically acclaimed filmmakers, who admit that gangs, camps and coteries do exist in Bollywood, and it’s up to the person to decide if they want to join those or tread their own path.
Directed: Peddlers (2012), Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota (2018)
It’s important to create a healthy ecosystem. Being a rank outsider, I’ve mostly faced rejections. The moment your film makes Rs 100-200 crore, things become smooth. Everyone’s ready to make a film with you. But would ranting about such things help? For some it does, but I want to use the time to work on more stories. How long will they reject your work if you’ve the capability? We need people like Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj, who created a healthy environment by giving newcomers like us opportunities.
Directed: Page 3 (2005), Fashion (2008), Heroine (2012)
I didn’t join any gang and trusted my audience, but this approach isn’t easy. I know since I’ve faced it. It does affect creative minds like us. Many also didn’t like the fact that my films showed the real side of the glamour world. Getting producers to actors were also difficult at some point. But the more you push me, I’ll bounce back. The song in Page 3 kind of says it all, ‘Kitne ajeeb rishtey hai yaha pe, Do pal milte hai saath saath chalte hai, Jab mod aaye toh bach ke nikalte hai...’
Directed: Parched (2015), Rajma Chawal (2018)
The challenge for filmmakers is to tell stories the way they want to. I don’t compromise on the narrative and my vision for financial gain. Sometimes, this struggle makes you think if you’re in the right profession. Getting to work with the right kind of people takes time, unless you’re ready to let go of certain things. For both insiders and outsiders, struggles are different at different levels. No one knows what would work.
Directed: My Brother... Nikhil (2005), I Am (2011)
Being a LGBTQIA+ representative with no film family background, I’m a double outsider. I had no work for five years after I Am released. Winning National Award made it worse for me. Biases aren’t only restricted to actors, it equally difficult for independent filmmakers like us. You have to have a popular producer or popular star on board to wade ahead. Even after that, when you make a film, you don’t get right promotion and lesser show timings, which destroys you further. Many are saying OTT is changing the game. But, it’s no different. Some of these platforms liked my story pitches but have told me to get a good producer/ actor on board. So, back to square one.
Directed: Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (2020)
In this creative field, one can’t pretend to be good writer or filmmaker. The first seven scripts I wrote didn’t work out even though all were liked by those we approached. Had I been in one of these groups, things would’ve been different. But I didn’t want to. And I turned to TV, creative writing to keep myself going. And that patience paid off. To be fair, favouritism is everywhere, but if you have it, you’ll get there.
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Author tweets @Shreya_MJ