Amidst Nepotism Backlash Against ‘Gunjan Saxena’, Janhvi Kapoor Refuses To Be Apologetic About Her Work. She’s right.
Bollywood’s nepotism debate seems to be taking no prisoners in its road to seek justice for outsiders like the late Sushant Singh Rajput. The dubious circumstances of his passing have, amongst other things, rallied India’s Bollywood-worshipping audience to question, troll and abuse the work of industry insiders like Janhvi Kapoor, the daughter of the late Sridevi and producer Boney Kapoor. Her second feature film, Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl has had to change flight plans midway to the theatres and opt for an OTT release on Netflix. The film, a biopic on the life of Indian Air Force’s first female combat pilot, also stars Pankaj Tripathi, Angad Bedi, Manav Vij and Viineet Kumar.
The backlash from the nepotism debate has hit star kids hard, with many celebs like Alia Bhatt maintaining near-silence on social media. Known for being their mentor in the industry, Karan Johar, too has taken a backseat, when he was otherwise regularly posting content on his Instagram. Since Janhvi’s is the first ‘star kid’ film to release post SSR’s death, and Gunjan Saxena being produced by Dharma Productions, the backlash has been doubled down…. From downrating the film’s trailer on YouTube to posting nasty comments about how Janhvi is the wrong choice for the role of pilot Gunjan Saxena because she is ‘expressionless’, or that she was only given the role because of her mentor KJo.
However, Janhvi Kapoor has chosen to be unfazed by all the negativity and be proud of her work in what is only her second film after her debut in Dharma Production’s Dhadak. In an interview with Hindustan Times, the actor spoke about how the sentiment against industry insiders like her has intensified in the past few months, but she hopes she doesn’t have to deal with such negativity during every new release. She further admits that the path has been easier for her so far, but if the backlash continues, she’ll accept it as the start of her own struggle to make it in Bollywood.
“I’ve kind of fast-tracked into this system already. I’ve skipped many steps that many people have had to fight for. I’ve gotten chances that many people wouldn’t have gotten easily. I’m here already through a much easier route than most people have had. So from now if the journey is a little bit of an uphill climb and it’s a little bit harder for people to accept me then I’ll accept it. If I’ve skipped a certain portion of the journey that people are subjected to then this is my journey from here on, and I’ll embrace it.”
Also Read: Janhvi Kapoor’s ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’ To Release Directly On Netflix. This Would Have Been Her First Big Release After Dhadak
Janhvi Kapoor isn’t trying too intently to battle all the trolling and negative comments because she believes that could do more harm than good. Sushant Singh Rajput’s passing has been a devastating blow to his fans and audiences, and the situation needs to be handled with sensitivity rather than outspoken defence. That being said, the actor does not feel any need to be apologetic about her work, about which she is proud and confident.
“I know I’m confident of what I’ve done, and I’m confident of the film and the story… I don’t think there’s any reason for us to be apologetic for what we’ve done.”
Her co-star, Pankaj Tripathi, who plays her father in the movie and is for all intents and purposes of the nepotism debate, an outsider in the industry, also agrees that people are being a bit too rushed in their judgement. Wouldn’t it be better to wait until they’ve watched the film to comment on it?
This is something that absolutely makes sense. And I am not just saying it because Pankaj Tripathi is an absolute favourite of mine. A lot goes into making a movie, no matter how big or small, short or full-length, and star-studded or indie. There are efforts of technicians who’ve worked day and night to make it look good, and everyone from the star and the director to the spot boy have contributed their efforts in creating the finished product. It would be to heartless to trash it even before you’ve had the chance to see what the film has to offer. Sure, nepotism might’ve had a hand in Janhvi Kapoor landing the role; we won’t be naïve to think it was all merit considering she has had only one other release before this. But I guess, what’s done is done.
Also Read: For A Hero Of Gunjan Saxena’s Calibre, Janhvi Kapoor With Just One Film To Her Credit, Is Not A Great Choice.
And let’s also not forget that there are outsiders like SSR working in other departments of filmmaking too, and some of them would’ve worked on Gunjan Saxena as well. Putting the film down would mean you’re demeaning their efforts too.
The cast and crew of Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl intended for the film to release on the big screen. It is director Sharan Sharma’s (an AD before) debut film, but because of its release on Netflix, will mostly be known as a Netflix original. The least we can do is give the film a fighting chance. As Sushant himself once said, nepotism and talent can co-exist. And wouldn’t it be hypocrisy to dismiss a good film just because you have a biased opinion about one person?