Suniel Shetty: It hurts me a lot when people say ‘film industry gutter hai’, it’s not fair
Actor Suniel Shetty talks about why it’s ‘not fair’ that people are calling the Hindi film industry such bad names. On the drug culture theory that is doing the rounds for Bollywood, he clarifies that a few people might do it, but it doesn’t mean one can generalise the whole of industry.
Actor Suniel Shetty is as honest and brutal as they come. He doesn’t say no to any questions you throw his way, and nor does he mince any words. The only aim in his life, which he recalls he said in his first ever interview too, was: “ ‘I want to walk out of life with people saying ‘he was a nice man’. That’s the one thing for sure,” he tells us.
In a three decade long career, which began on September 11, 1992 with the release of Balwaan, Shetty has seen every aspect of the industry, be it the highs and the lows. And naturally, he considers this home now. However, the way Bollywood is being looked at today is something the 59-year-old is not happy with, especially in the context of nepotism.
“I came from a humble background, and even before my children got into the business, I was trying to get work for people. For me, nepotism doesn’t exist only, that’s the way of the world. I tried for the best school for my kids. At the age of two, I don’t know how good or bad he or she is in education, but I tried, maybe not giving tomorrow’s genius an opportunity, and giving them one. We all try,” he says.
‘HAMARI FILM INDUSTRY GUTTER NAHI HAI’
The actor doesn’t understand why it has ‘become so bitter’. “Strong words like ‘film industry gutter hai’ — it hurts a lot. It’s my place of work, worship. It’s not five actors or directors or producers who make the industry. It’s 18 associations, one federation and lakhs of workers who make an industry. Aap gutter nahi bula sakte kisi cheez ko, aap gande log nahi bol sakte, it’s not freaking fair. Today, theatres are closed, millions of workers don’t have work, what are we doing?,” questions Shetty.
He goes on to add there are many other film industries as well, but it’s only the Hindi film industry which comes into the limelight. “12 states make films. How is this industry bad? Why is there no problem there? Why are we spitting venom here? It’s a very beautiful place, and it’s the way you look at it. There is a thin line to cross, but you can stay within also. So it’s not fair that we say such things about our own industry. We have entertained millions of people over the years and continue to,” Shetty says.
‘IF FIVE PEOPLE ARE DOING DRUGS, IT DOESN’T MEAN THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY IS’
Shetty doesn’t flinch from the question: he just doesn’t believe in the percentage of film industry indulging in the drug culture, which is doing the rounds. He says, “Are five actors 90 percent of the industry? No! Somewhere down the line, calculation is wrong. There are thousands of brilliant actors, directors, technicians, that’s our industry. Let me correct people there, the math is wrong. X percentage of people who do drugs and everything in life in extreme, exist in every part of the industry. If five politicians are doing it, it doesn’t mean the entire circle is wrong, or if five corporates are involved in the Me Too movement, it doesn’t mean all corporates are wrong. The percentage is definitely not as high as it’s made out to be.”
Giving his own example, he reveals that he hasn’t even had a sip of alcohol in his life, that doesn’t make him God.
“I am a human. I chose that, and fitness as my mantra in life. I can’t go around saying ‘I am the cleanest guy in the world’, no, there are a lot of flaws in me. Let’s not go extreme again. My upbringing has been like this, I had a simple background and stuck to that. But do not blame the entire industry. Yes, drugs happen, they happen everywhere. Maybe in our industry, it’s aggressive also, but they don’t make the industry. Point fingers at them and expose them, if you have to, but do not point it at everybody. Generalising Bollywood is bad, I don’t think we should,” expresses the actor.
According to Shetty, individuals are there, but he is not scared. He reveals people are saying ‘south Mumbai actors are taking drugs’, “I live here, I am not worried, I don’t spend sleepless nights, nor is Ahaan (son) or Athiya (daughter) bothered. Let people who consume or do in excess of anything be worried na. But Bollywood is not that way. We are very good people. Hain drugs hain, kahaan nahi hain drugs? It’s a business also somewhere. Drugs are banned, how are they peddled? Our system also has to wake up. Consume tab ho raha hai jab bik raha hai, bik raha hai jab profit hai. It’s a nexus, bust it. Consume hota hi hai — anybody who denies this is a fool, that drugs nahi hote. There’s everything in life, which is why we have rehab centres.”
The actor feels it’s not in their control, and they must have got addicted. We should help them, he further says. “Hum unki madad karte hain, ya unko phaansi pe chadha dete hain? We can’t do that.”
“Where is the denying that Sushant (Singh Rajput, late actor who died an untimely death) was an extra ordinary actor, and an exceptional brain? There’s no denying it. But everything has it’s course, and now CBI has come in and there should probe, everything should happen. But the same industry that he loved and was a part of, we are running down that same industry. Thousands of children still aspire to be actors, we shouldn’t discourage them. We have to believe, and we all know it’s a beautiful place,” Shetty tells us.
He goes down the memory lane and recalls that there was a time when he would tie his friends’ legs, who had done drugs, to his, and sleep in the same room for months to get them out of it. “Because I loved them. They got into it... when growing up, it happens sometimes. And they were friends not from the film industry, which means it’s just not the film industry. Just because I don’t drink doesn’t make me God, and just because somebody is doing drugs doesn’t mean thy are necessarily bad. Understand what they are going through in their life, the highs, the lows, the abuse they must have gone through, the company they have kept,” he signs off.
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