Big screens, vibrant colours, an unrealistic pumped up dance in between, some tears and a happy ending. We all know about the charming ability of Bollywood to get the audience in it’s feels. Groovy songs and emotional rides have become this nation’s comfort. Bollywood, with it’s glamour and splendour has been in everyone’s heart and still is. But every coin has a flip side. Like Shahrukh Khan once said, “Bade bade shehron me choti choti baatein hoti rehti hai'', the Bollywood city itself is not as vibrant as seen. The on screen scandals between Salman-Shahrukh are not the only “choti baaten'' happening in this scandalous city. The dark side of this tunnel goes deeper than it looks. Let’s talk about some daunting facts about show biz that are often hidden away with the vibrant side of Bollywood.
- NEPOTISM - Everyone who is familiar with the word Bollywood is most definitely familiar with the word “Nepotism”. If you don’t, just look at the Kapoor family in Bollywood. There was a time when Bollywood just had two genres, the Khans and the Kapoors, and every one of them endorsed by the king of nepotism (not my words, Kangana’s), Karan Johar. Nepotism is favouritism granted to the relatives of already established celebrities instead of providing a fair chance to everyone for being selected for talent rather than kin. Nepotism exists in almost every field in India and not just Bollywood. Be it politics, education or even business, nepotism can be traced down in every field you go. The so called “Star Kids” or “Nepotism babies” have it easy in Bollywood whereas an outsider who might not have any contacts in the film industry has to work their way up to the ladder, with no surety of success. Nepotism has almost always existed in Bollywood, but it became the prefix of Bollywood only after Kangana Ranaut called Karan Johar the “flag bearer of Nepotism” in his show “Koffee with Karan”. Even the outsiders do somehow make their way to the top, they are still treated as outsiders in Bollywood. The topic of nepotism in Bollywood has been frequently highlighted after Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput died, the cause of death being suicide. Although, there has been no confirmed reason for his suicide, but many Bollywood celebrities and general audience have linked it to nepotism. This does not mean that the ‘Star Kids’ lack talent, but it is easier for them to get opportunities to showcase their talent. Every outsider, not born in the film industry, has struggled a lot, whether they have made it or not. Surely, ‘Star Kids’ do have their own struggles as well but as Siddhant Chaturvedi accurately put it, “Their struggle begins where our dreams are fulfilled.”
- CRIME - With money, comes power. Using power in a beneficial way is something almost every powerful man has struggled with. Our Bollywood celebrities are no different. There have been multiple crime records of even the most hailed actors and actresses. Well, Bollywood did what it does best, it successfully managed to romanticise a crime by making an entire biopic on it. Ring a bell? Yes! Sanju. Sanjay Dutt aka Sanju Baba has been seen in news more than he has been seen in movies. Now what to do with an actor who has made his name by going in and out of jail? That’s right, you make a biopic on it. He has gone to jail several times since 1993 for possession of an AK-47 and a 9 mm pistol. He was booked under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act. The Bhool Bhulaiya actor Shiney Ahuja was accused of raping and molesting his 20 years old maid several times. He denied the charges first and eventually gave in and confessed. Sooraj Pancholi, who was dating Jiah Khan who killed herself on June 3, 2013, was also charged with abetment. In the suicide note left by Jiah, Sooraj was accused of mentally draining her and there were also indications of her being forced to abort an unborn child. In 2012, Shah Rukh Khan, the Badshah of Bollywood was also accused of abusing and man-handling security guards and MCA officials at the Wankhede Stadium in front of kids. He was later on banned from the stadium for 5 years. This list is incomplete without one name, the person who has made people fearful of even footpaths, Salman Khan. He has several cases against him, two of them include the famous Black Buck case. He was accused of killing 2 black bucks with his co-actors during the shooting of Hum Saath Saath Hain. Quite a way to live up to the movie title, right? Another one is his infamous Hit and Run case in which he was accused of driving over sleeping people on the footpath. He has somehow gotten away with all of these charges, like most of the rich celebs because unfortunately, money speaks so that the laws can’t.
- DRUGS! DRUGS! DRUGS! - Bollywood is no stranger to substance abuse. Infact, not only the Bollywood celebrities, but their children too are extremely familiar with drugs. With the recent case of Aryan Khan, the son of Shah Rukh Khan, who was arrested with seven others by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for the purchase, consumption and sale of drugs on a cruise ship off the Mumbai coast. He was recently denied bail and was refused for any special treatment by the Mumbai Court. Fardeen Khan who has worked in one of the most engaging Bollywood movies like Heyy Babyy and No Entry was also arrested on May 5, 2001. He was a drug addict and was allegedly found purchasing cocaine from a peddler. Later on investigation, 9 gms of cocaine was recovered from the drug peddler. The actor told the court that he was trying to buy only a small quantity of drugs for personal consumption. The NDPS court only charged the actor for the attempt to buy one gram of cocaine in 2011, and later granted him immunity from prosecution after the actor went through detoxification in 2012. Sanjay Dutt, has a long history of drug consumption and has gone through the struggle of drug addiction for almost 12 years. When he was taken to America for rehab, he had ticked off all the drugs in a list he was given. There was no drug that he hadn’t done. Actor Prateik Babbar confessed he started doing drugs at the age of 13 and had to take help from a rehab centre. In August 2021, Armaan Kohli was arrested after the NCM found 1.2 gm cocaine in his house. After the demise of Sushant Singh Rajput, Kangana Ranaut took it upon herself to fix the entire film industry. Kangana Ranaut claimed that 99% of Bollywood engages in the consumption of drugs. She even offered help to NCB. Later, actress Rhea Chakraborty and her brother Showik Chakraborty were also accused by NCB. Deepika Padukone, Shraddha Kapoor, and Sara Ali Khan were also called for questioning by NCB. Now, whether B-wood is full of druggies or not, we don’t know. But the aforementioned cases have certainly added some degree of glamorization and normalisation of substance abuse amongst the youth.
- CASTING COUCH - Now you must be thinking what is a couch doing in the dark side of Bollywood? Couches’ existence is automatically supposed to lighten up your mood. But this couch is actually not as comfortable as you think it might be. Casting couch is a practice where aspiring actors are asked for sexual favours in return for a particular role. This practice is not just limited to Bollywood. There have been many cases of casting couch in Hollywood as well. Kalki Koechlin has been one of the few celebrities who has addressed the presence of casting couch as she herself was asked for favours in return for roles. However she has always rejected the offers. Famous celebrities like Ayushmann Khurrana,Kangana Ranaut and Prachi Desai who have paved their own way to Bollywood were also asked to deliver sexual favours which they declined.
Ranveer Singh also opened up about his casting couch experience and said, “Casting couch is a very real thing. I have experienced it first-hand. ‘You have to be smart. You have to be sexy. Jo smart hai, jo sexy hai, wo aage nikal jaata hai. When I said ‘no’ (to his demands), he cried like a jilted lover. Later, I got to know that he does it to everyone.”
Last week, Television actor and Big Boss contestant Zeeshan Khan opened up about his experience where a casting director of a ‘really nice production house’ had asked him to strip. Zeeshan said that the director called him to his office for a meeting. “So, he calls me there and he is like, ‘You know what, this guy is like a college baddie, so I want to see how physically fit you are. Can you take your T-shirt off?’ I was like, ‘Okay, I am cool with that.’ I take my T-shirt off. After that, he is like, ‘I want to see your legs because a lot of people work only on their upper body and not their lower body’.”
Casting couch is very much a reality in not just the film industry but at other workplaces as well. Though, the #MeToo movement has provided a lot of support to victims to come forward with their stories.
With these points it’s easier to acknowledge the difference between real life and reel life. What’s shown to the general audience might not be the truth and the truth might never be shown to the general public. But the flip side of glamour is not that glamorous. We can always enjoy the ethical content but it’s also important to notice how the rich and powerful have almost always gotten away with breaking laws. Remember, we can never truly separate the art from the artist. So until and unless we don’t call the content of lawbreakers out and continue to consume it, the laws will keep working against their nature and might never provide justice to the people who really need it.
Picture source : Roast with Nishant on YouTube
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