In the last few months, Indian cinema has lost some great stalwarts — Irrfan Khan, Rishi Kapoor, Basu Chatterjee and now Sushant Singh Rajput. It’s barely been 24 hours since we lost a very promising young talent. A talent, who probably, like Shah Rukh Khan, came up the Bollywood bandwagon on his own merit.

From television to films, the transition is never easy. Many have tried, many have failed, and many have regretted the decisions. Many, don’t even get the chance. The ones who get wait for their moment for years. And it’s like a double-edged sword. If you succeed, you’ll have to keep up with the pressure. If your film fails, the media will be all guns blazing — ‘It’s best that he/she continued with TV.’

Stardom comes with a price. And so does being from a star family. Sushant Singh Rajput’s death has brought the dreaded word back in Bollywood. NEPOTISM.

Sushant Singh’s death at 34 puts a lot of questions on the workings of the Indian Film Industry. Why this commercial vs parallel cinema divide, why stars vs outsiders, why big budgets vs zero budgets, favouritism vs talent, WHY?

Well, as a film buff, I must admit that I am as much a fan of massy entertainers, as I am of some real good content-driven cinema.

It’s also a sad reality that most of the content-driven cinema has actors who aren’t mainstream stars or have backing from rich production houses or studios.

It will always be a question difficult to crack as to why stars prefer doing the same kind of cinema again and again, while the other actors, despite doing their very best, don’t get the accolades and admiration they truly deserve.

This brings me to a point that when stars attempt something off-beat, like a Varun Dhawan in Badlapur or Alia Bhat in Highway, they actually rise as actors and earn the respect from the audience. It takes a Manmarziyaan to prove that Abhishek Bachchan is a brilliant actor or a Raavan or Guru or a Yuva that adds so much value to his filmography. He is often butchered and compared for being a product of nepotism like many of his contemporaries.

At the same time, we have seen so many brilliant non-industry guys doing the kind of films that set a benchmark and represent Indian Cinema globally. Actors, Directors, and even Producers who back such kind of cinema.

Irrfan Khan, Tisca Chopra, Rasika Dugal, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Kangana Ranaut, Jimmy Sheirgill, Pankaj Tripathi, Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkummar Rao, Radhika Madan, Sushant Singh Rajput, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Vikrant Massey, Tilottma Shome, Kalki Koechlin, Gulshan Deviah, Richa Chaddha, Pawan Malhotra, Sohum Shah, Anand Gandhi, the list can go on and on!

Rishi Kapoor, a veteran, admitted in his autobiography that his second innings in Bollywood was better than his first. For almost four decades, he did the same kind of films to appease his fans. And when the opportunities came in the second half of its career, people liked it better than before.

This came from a person whose family shares a huge film legacy. Across generations, we have seen stars emerge out of this illustrious family. Look at Ranbir Kapoor or Karisma Kapoor or Kareena Kapoor. Look at movies of Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor. Where talent works, it works.

Abhishek Bachchan was compared for most of his career with his father, and so were Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol. It’s pressure in its own way. But they did prove themselves with their noteworthy films that they don’t lack in talent.

If this kind of admiration is possible with people within the industry, why can’t it be the same for outsiders as well?

When Govinda came to the movies in the late 80s, he was an outsider. But we can’t deny the way he made his way through his movies, his fans, his stardom. The same goes for Akshay Kumar and many more!

People who come with aspirations and real talent will thrive much harder to make a mark, no matter what. They’ll give it their all. Because that’s their only chance to make their mark in the glitz and glamourous world.

Whether you are kids of already established stars or outsiders. The former still have an advantage of money, while for the others that’s another option to worry about!

I think it’s high time Bollywood ends this great divide. Stars vs non-stars, insider vs outsider. We are in the business of making movies no doubt. But we also are passionate about good stories. In a country of 130 crore plus people, why is it that a handful of them drive the show business?

Why do we need this YRF Camp, Dharma Camp or Khan or Kapoor clan? Like the west, Why can’t it be about the movie-making business and for the love of bringing good stories.

Producers need stars to run a film! If this is the word then why can’t it be about Producers need a good story, a good cast to drive the film? Why is it about TV actors vs Film actors, why can’t it be about collective casting? The Cast who is right for the role! Collaborative filmmaking.

Bollywood, we need to act fast….until another breaking news makes it to the headline.

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