Sonam Kapoor may not exactly be the best actor on the planet. Her choice of words in the public space may not have always been politically correct either. She’s never been in denial mode about it. She wears her privilege on her sleeves, speaks English with an accent and has been unapologetic about it. She dresses like a dream, was born with a silver spoon and hasn’t exactly avoided talking about it. Despite that, even her harshest of critics would admit that ‘Brand Sonam’ is a lot beyond ‘Brand Anil Kapoor’.
Finding her feet in Bollywood after a debut that was a commercial disaster and surviving 13 years in an industry where fortunes change every Friday is no joke, despite all the cushioning she may get after a commercial failure. For every Kapoor who enters the industry, there has been an Armaan Jain or a Zayed Khan or a Fardeen Khan who have been rejected outright. For every Abhay Deol, there’s a Karan Deol, where it didn’t make a difference to the audience that he was Dharmendra’s grandson. No offence to their talent, but Bollywood spares none if you don’t have what it takes to succeed. Agreed that the Hindi film industry is controlled by star families, but not all who’ve come out of them have been a Kareena Kapoor either.
A social media mob unleashed its worst possible attack on Sonam Kapoor, when she had written, “Today on Father’s Day id like to say one more thing, yes I’m my father’s daughter and yes I am here because of him and yes I’m privileged. That’s not an insult, my father has worked very hard to give me all of this. And it is my karma where I’m born and to whom I’m born. I’m proud to be his daughter.” Under normal circumstances, no one would have batted an eyelid on this post and many may have even praised Sonam to the skies for accepting her privilege. Yet, the timing of her post coincided with the entire ‘outsider versus insider’ debate, that was ruling the roost on social media after the unfortunate death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, which clearly changed the context in which people read the post.
Here was a star kid who was merely thanking her stars to have been born to an actor like Anil Kapoor who’s redefined himself from time to time. She’s not only acknowledging her privilege but is also giving an idea of the struggles that her actor-father underwent despite being the son of a star producer. Many are outraged by the fact that she has cited her good ‘karma’ as a reason for being born in a family that has a legacy in the film industry. Given a chance, who wouldn’t want to experience life as life a child of Anil Kapoor? Mind you, that label comes with its own set of issues and Sonam Kapoor has dealt it with maturity and poise.
Sonam has produced and acted in films that she has wanted to be a part of. It’s another matter if they’re a work of art or not. And social media mobs need to do well to remember not all Bollywood audiences live in the metros and Sonam Kapoor wouldn’t have made it big or lasted this long without widespread acceptance by all kinds of audiences. Sushant Singh Rajput’s death has only given a free license for crowds who’re not aware of the workings of the industry to target a group of celebrities to push their own construed idea of nepotism. Sonam, turning off her comments section to her posts in Instagram and Twitter, is just a reminder of how venomous has social media turned out to be.
The good old-world wisdom from Raveena Tandon, a daughter of popular director Ravi Tandon when she entered the industry, amid this debate has been timely. In a series of tweets, she had added, ‘“mean girl”gang of the industry.Camps do exist.Made fun of,bn removed from films by Heroes,their girlfriends,Journo chamchas&their career destroying fake media stories.Sometimes careers are destroyed.U struggle to keep afloat.fight back. Some survive Some Don’t. When you speak the truth,you are branded a liar,Mad,psychotic. Chamcha journos write pages & pages destroying all the hard work that you might have done. Even though born in the industry, grateful for all it has given me,but dirty politics played by some can leave a sour taste . It can happen to someone born within,an “insider” as I can hear insider/outsider words, some anchors blaring away.But you fight back.The more they tried to bury me,the harder I fought back. Dirty politics happen everywhere. But sometimes one roots for good to win,and Evil to lose.”
Perhaps, Sonam should take strength from Raveena Tandon’s words. For all the troubles Sushant Singh Rajput may have faced through his short-lived career, the least his loyal fan could do to remember him (or supposedly do justice to his Bollywood dream) is to troll a celebrity for owning their background. Sonakshi Sinha’s exit from the cyberspace further proves why this is vicious. There’s no denying that there are more struggle stories in Bollywood than success stories and there is more access to the industry for a select lot. Definitely, it’s an important time to relook at the star system in the industry, the functioning of the industry, but let Sonam Kapoor be.