HTLS 2021 ‘Star kids’ have it much tougher, social media has increased intrusion: Anil and Janhvi Kapoor
Evergreen Bollywood superstar Anil Kapoor, 64, and his rising star niece Janhvi Kapoor, 24, opened up on the industry’s recent vilification and also the future of creative audio-visual content in the OTT era during the concluding session of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2021 on Saturday.
In the context of the tribulations in a drugs case of Aryan Khan, the son of actor Shah Rukh Khan, Janhvi said that public scrutiny on people from film families is relentless in this age of social media.
“Not just actors but even common people are subject to critiquing by means of social media these days. I’ve been made to feel very aware my whole life of my privilege, and there’s no running away from it. But that doesn’t really take away from experiences of pain and suffering and all the experiences of hard work and struggle that we might have had individually. And therefore, the wisdom that we have acquired as a result of those experiences; it doesn’t make that any less valuable,” Janhvi said.
She confessed that for a long time, she was “very apologetic” about where she came from, and of who her parents were. “Yes, I did get my first film relatively easier than most people get it. And it’s important to acknowledge that. There are people that must have been much more deserving than I was. But, I can’t keep waking up with that baggage and that pressure,” she added. “Yes, I have the privilege of being able to do what I want to, but you (the audience) will watch me only if you find me worth it, else you won’t.”
Anil, who joined the conversation with HT’s managing editor (entertainment & lifestyle) Sonal Kalra virtually from home quarantine in Mumbai after a visit to Europe, said the label “star kids” was by no means new, and the so-called “insider versus outsider” divide existed even when he started his career but the margin for failure afforded to the current generation was way too thin.
“In my early days, I did several films that sank without a trace; nobody knew when they opened and went off screens. Yet, nothing happened. There was no social media at that time, so maybe it didn’t come out so much. I was considered an outsider for a long time, so I had the luxury of making mistakes... But not the other star kids like Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Deol, Kumar Gaurav who started out with me, but had the pressure to live up to their fathers’ name. Today, I would salute star kids because it is definitely tougher for them because of social media.”
In tune with the theme of the summit — The New World Order — the actors also talked about how the advent of OTT (over-the-top) platforms redefined the dynamics of show business, more so in the past nearly two years since the pandemic hit.
Anil, who forayed into the OTT space playing himself in Anurag Kashyap’s web film AK vs AK last year, said, “OTT is definitely the future because it opens us to the global stage, and we, as content creators and actors, get this opportunity to show our work... if you’re on an OTT platform, there are 200 countries simultaneously seeing your work, which is fantastic.”
Jahnvi made her digital debut with her second project itself, starring in Zoya Akhtar’s web anthology Ghost Stories (2020), and was also seen in direct-to-OTT film Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl the same year. Lauding the reach the platform has to offer, she said, “The web has made the audience’s sensibilities evolve. It has encouraged us as creative people, not just actors but writers, directors, producers and other creative people too. We’re exposed to cinema and TV shows and content world over.”
Going forward, she said, a content divide would evolve between material more suited to the needs of each platform — OTT as well as bricks-and-mortar cinemas.