Celina Jaitly Weighs In On Nepotism Debate, Says Star Kids Have Immunity From The Sexual Harassment Rampant In Bollywood.
The nepotism debate is for Bollywood and media what politics or cricket is to family gatherings and WhatsApp groups. Spicy, aggressive, always pitting people against each other, and never-ending. I still remember how Siddhant Chaturvedi (MC Sher from Gully Boy) aptly summed it up during an interview, when he said, “Jahan hamare sapne poore hote hain, wahaan se inka struggle shuru hota hai.” Star kids do seem to have that extra layer of insulation that protects them from all the problematic facets of a career in the movie industry. Former Miss India and actress Celina Jaitly in her recent interview, said something on the same lines.
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Today, November 24, happens to be Celina’s birthday. In an exclusive interview with ETimes, the Apna Sapna Money Money actor talked about what being an outsider in the industry was like, how parenthood is going for her, and her current project, a film called Season’s Greetings, that is receiving favourable reviews at some International film festivals.
When asked about nepotism in Bollywood and her take on the ongoing insider-outsider debate, Celina Jaitly pointed out what most sane arguments have been saying all along. Nepotism exists in every industry and isn’t necessarily bad. But only as long as talent is part of the equation to balance it out. The moment it becomes unbalanced, that’s when things get ugly.
“In my humble opinion, ‘nepotism’ is not bad, if there is a successful transition from one generation to another, which merits talent, but when it does not merit talent and blocks the entry of new talent then there is a big problem. Well, Nepotism is present in each and every sector in our country, right from Politics to the Entertainment industry to even business. Despotism favours the despot, nepotism favours the despot’s genes.”
Also Read: Exclusive: Lust Stories’ Producer Ashi Dua Talks About The Emmys, Her Love For Anthology Films And Nepotism In Bollywood
One thing that Celina mentioned, and which offers considerable food for thought, is how star kids are protected from one of the most notorious problems that plague the movie industry. You guessed it right, it’s the casting couch or the sexual harassment that reportedly a lot of outsiders have to endure to reach the top. When you’re a star kid, your parents or family name carries a certain clout that might insulate you from the worst there is.
“One of the main things that I would like to point towards is that the children from film lineage have natural immunity from the sexual harassment that exists in Bollywood.”
On the surface, it does seem like that’s the case. But with egos running ever high in Bollywood, it makes me wonder if that’s entirely true. Sexual harassment in the workplace is more often about power plays. There’s always a bigger fish that can swallow the smaller one, so maybe a lot depends on who your contacts in the industry are and what position you are on in the status ladder.
Moreover, we have learnt that sexual harassment from the casting couch is only one aspect of the glamourous life of the movie industry. The abuse can also come in other forms, and neither your lineage nor your clout might be able to protect you from the predators. What’s worse is, that they might even have to hide any such instances of harassment instead of speaking up about it in public, because they have to maintain their ‘image’. Look at what happened when Aamir Khan’s daughter, Ira Khan, spoke about being depressed and sexually abused.
Also Read: Ira Khan, Aamir Khan’s Daughter Talks About Depression, Sexual Abuse And More. We Tend To Invalidate Star Kids’ Struggles
Celina Jaitly does agree that other than the above-mentioned issue, the struggle otherwise is the same for both insiders and outsiders. Which, when you think about proving one’s talent and and making a space in the hearts of the audience, is absolutely true. Because even if star kids have clout and money and big names at their disposal, ultimately, if the audience does not go to watch their movies in the theatres, they won’t be able to sustain themselves in the industry! Take Celina’s Janasheen costar, Fardeen Khan, for example. His solo movies didn’t exactly do well, and now we don’t see him in movies anymore.
Moreover, there’s also the fact that star kids are always under the threat of being overshadowed by their superstar parent or family’s shadow. The pressure to ‘prove’ themselves is on everyone, definitely more on the outsiders, because that’s their ticket to the big leagues. But star kids aren’t just pitted against their contemporaries, but also against their own families. So while there is insulation from the casting couch for the products of nepotism, they are absolutely bare in front of the harsh scrutiny from the media, all the side effects of fame, and the pressure to live up to their lineage.
Take Abhishek Bachchan, for example. The actor gave a mixed bag of films from duds like Tera Jadoo Chal Gayaa to hits like Guru, Bunty Aur Babli, Manmarziyaan and the YRF franchise Dhoom, the second instalment of which, Dhoom 2, completes 14 years today. Junior Bachchan has even proven his mettle with an entry into the burgeoning OTT stream, with Breathe 2 on Amazon Prime Video, and most recently, Ludo on Netflix. And yet, the sheer amount that the actor gets trolled on social media for not being an actor to match up to his father, Amitabh Bachchan’s stature, literally and figuratively, might make lesser men cry. AB Jr. has developed thick skin, and comes back at trolls with witty retorts all the time. And yet, the cyber abuse continues.
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Neither sides of the struggle belittle the other. Ultimately, the outsiders do have it hard, a shade more than the insiders.
Meanwhile, Celina Jaitly is currently basking in the appreciation that her film, Season’s Greetings is reportedly getting internationally. Celina is married to Austrian hotelier Peter Haag and has three children with him—twins Winston Haag and Viraaj Haag, and Arthur Haag. She shuttles between Austria, Dubai and Singapore for her work.