Why there is nothing offensive about Karan Johar, Saif Ali Khan and Varun Dhawan’s nepotism joke aimed at Kangana Ranaut at IIFA

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Okay so let me put this out straight. When Tanmay Bhat tries to joke around by applying a dog filter on a Narendra Modi lookalike and ends up drawing the ire of Mumbai police and a subsequent FIR, many liberals are outraged at the ‘outrageous’ action taken by the cops. Fair enough. It’s just a joke. Why outrage over a joke? But then why are the same liberals now venting their anger at KJO, Saif Ali Khan and Varun Dhawan for cracking a harmless joke at Kangana Ranaut’s expense on her now infamous nepotism remark. Why this hypocrisy, I ask. A joke is a joke. Is Kangana a holier than thou saint whose acts, quotes and remarks cannot be ‘without her consent’ mimicked or mocked in a comic act?

A lot of venom has been poured out on social media in the form of tweets and articles criticizing KJO and co for cracking what I believe was a harmless joke that you had to just hear, laugh and forget about. Frankly speaking, I enjoyed the joke. It made for a good laugh. Were they trying to insult Kangana? Could be. But then that is how insult comedy works and many have done that in past and people have taken it sportingly. Eminent film critic and journalist Divya Solgama points out, “ SRK has been doing insult comedy aimed at Aamir Khan since decades in Filmfare but at that time it was accepted in sporting manner. But now everything is being blown out of proportion.”

Agreeing with Divya is another entertainment journalist who says, “Media often pass comments on Bollywood stars, praise AIB for their remarks but when a Bollywood star does it, that’s not cool! If this isn’t cool, why did many from the media defend AIB Roast? A trend is on where many media houses tend to over emphasize on ever freaking thing and try to create a controversy.”

Precisely so. Just because three men took a jibe at the poster girl of feminism, Kangana Ranaut, a few are getting their knickers in a twist. Some of these offending parties even suggested that the joke was tantamount to the troika ganging up against Kangana. Really? This was just a joke. There was room for this joke to be played out and they did just that. Some laughed, some didn’t. That’s about it. Some suggested they wouldn’t have had the guts to do this in front of Kangana. I doubt. This was an innocuous joke, not something that made fun of her accent or English speaking skills. That would have been demeaning. KJO and others would have easily performed it in Kangana’s presence and I am sure Kangana would have had a good laugh. Was this KJO’s way of getting back at Kangana? No one can say that. But then Kangana being Kangana wouldn’t have given two hoots about the ‘Bole Chudiya Bole Kangana’ jibe. Ironically, the male protagonist of the song was none other than Hrithik Roshan.

Finally, the entire joke hinges up the now dreaded ‘N’ word in the film industry – Nepotism. I like Kangana as an actress but I will say this- she has no business talking about Nepotism in the first place. She has no locus standi. Is Kangana trying to tell the world that no one has ever helped her in her rise to stardom? Is she the sole architect of her success? Whether you are from a film family or not, you are inevitably helped by someone in your professional career’s advancement and in Kangana’s case help came in from a film personality. In a 2008 interview with Mumbai Mirror, Aditya Pancholi had this to say about Kangana. “Kangana didn’t have a penny when I met her. I saw her the first time on the road. She was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It was June 27, 2004. She was drenched, and sitting on a bike with a guy from the Asha Chandra Acting Institute. I was supervising the construction of a building.  It was pouring. Suddenly She came up and said a warm ‘hi’ to me. When she said she was ‘Kangana’, I remembered a mutual friend had asked me to help her when she reached Mumbai. After that Kangana started calling me up persistently until I agreed to meet her. Initially she was a sweet small town girl. I fell in love with her. I was building a home for the two of us. Even the phone she was using was mine. Then one day she told me about this guy who was troubling her. When I asked for an itemised bill my world crashed on my head. The same guy’s number recurred repeatedly in the bill. She spoke to this guy for 5,000 minutes in a month. Why was she calling a guy she claimed was troubling her? I should’ve been warned. But I was completely taken in by her. Things came to such a head that one of her mooh-bola brothers went to Dubai and got himself a job in a hotel on my recommendation without my knowledge. Yes, she has used me.”  Further up in the interview, Aditya says, ” We have stopped seeing one another for a while now. Some time back she called me to say she wanted money, about Rs 1 crore, to buy a house. (This, after she had complained against me to the police.) I called up a banker-friend and stood as her guarantor and got her a loan of Rs 50 lakh.

My point as mentioned above is simply this. If you belong to a film family, your kith and kin will HELP you in getting a launch. If you are talented and not from a film family, you will ultimately find someone most probably from the film fraternity who will HELP you rise in this industry and he or she will become your godfather.

Says Divya Solgama, ” Rajesh Khanna…Amitabh Bachchan… Dilip Kumar.. Shahrukh Khan… Akshay Kumar. ..all are individuals but had taken some or another person’s help to bag their work.”

I would say add Kangana to that list and there will end the nepotism debate. The other argument advanced in the insider v/s outsider debate is that the former have it easy and get a platform that the latter barely get.  Something that one doesn’t want to extensively debate is about the challenges a star kid has to face which are way different than that of an outsider.

I guess it’s more tough for a star kid to sustain in film industry as comparisons are with their parents who have a glorious career of 30- 40 years. A new comer does not get compared. Abhishek Bachchan despite of being a great actor was compared with his father who is a legend. Is it fair?,” asks Divya Solgama.

Finally to put things in perspective, I would say this. If you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth, it would be foolish on your part to chuck it away and go and queue up with other Lokhandwala strugglers and give auditions at Mhada. Use your privilege, hone your talent and make a name for yourself. The best names in the field of business and law are sons and daughters of star fathers and mothers. And for the one who is born with an iron spoon, it is a world where only the fittest will survive. So rather than whining about who has got what as his or her birthright, it is time to seize destiny with your own hands and rewrite it…like a certain SRK. Whether you do that with or without the help of someone is entirely up to you. But then if you don’t succeed, there is no use pinning the blame on the so-called ‘N’ word.

  • Hari Kurup

    Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones! Simple!