The Hindi film industry, just like any other, is based on the model of making profits. That’s how it works. But unlike other industries, the stakes here can get pretty huge for those involved in the process, especially the actors, who are people selling the films – with talent, star-power, and in very rare cases, both.
This leads to unfair expectations and brutal commodification, which very few have been brave enough to call out. Here is a list of people who spoke against the industry’s unfair demands, its injustices and its unsettling acceptance of mediocrity. Read on.
1. When Pooja Bhatt said that saying the truth doesn’t take one very far in Bollywood.
Pooja made this statement at the launch of I’ve Never Been (Un) Happier, a book written by her sister Shaheen Bhatt. Elaborating on the topic, she said:
2. And when she spoke about things being “all surface”.
It’s all surface. They don’t give a damn if you’re a cocaine addict, whether you have an alcohol problem or you’re taking sleeping pills. As long as you look okay and show up and your waist size is a certain circumference, it’s good.
3. When Neena Gupta talked about the portrayal of women actors back in the day when she was starting out in the industry.
The heroine in those days was not portrayed as someone strong, more often than not. Generally, she was someone who compromised with the circumstances and sacrificed a lot. So, I think an actor has to be very careful that what image of theirs is created by the media.
4. When Ratna Pathak Shah honestly evaluated Sholay’s worth and the need for India to introspect more as a “filmmaking nation”.
I was thinking, if I were a French person watching this, what would I make of two grown men behaving in this manner? It was deeply embarrassing. I thought back on Sholay. It’s a series of stereotypes and borrowed ideas from films from all over the world, mainly American, of course. And we are still singing praises of that film. What kind of self-analysis are we doing as a filmmaking nation?
5. And when she said that most of the A-list actors are not good at their craft and should not be “allowed in front of the camera”.
Too many of our grossly overpaid stars should not even be allowed in front of a movie camera. There should be a law to prevent such people from acting!
6. When Shefali Shah raised the important age issue plaguing Bollywood and said that the industry has no idea what to do with women actors over 40.
Men in this industry are afforded more choices, regardless of age. For most part, Bollywood doesn’t know what to do with a woman who has crossed 40. Only recently are parts being written for women like me
8. When Saif Ali Khan called Bollywood award shows “whole big tamasha”, stressing that they are nothing more than money-making tools.
As I see them, awards functions are an excuse to make some money by performing on stage. If you have the intelligence,then you spend the money well.
8. And when he narrated the incident where he was given the Best Actor in a Comic Role award because he couldn’t be given the Best Actor award.
To be honest, I don’t believe in them. Some years ago I was called for an awards function. When I got there someone higher up in the organization told me, “We wanted to give you the Best Actor award. But you know how it is. We’ll give you the award for Best Actor in a comic role”.
9. When Abhay Deol talked about the “lobbying” that exists in the Hindi film industry and how it impacted the award season after ZNMD’s release.
10. When Swara Bhasker called Bollywood a “star-driven” industry.
Bollywood as an industry is based on relationships, it has always been star-driven and it has an element of feudalism. So, it would be difficult for an outsider but my experience of Bollywood is not nepotistic at all.
11. When Surveen Chawla spoke about the struggles she had to face just because someone else had better contacts than she did.
I was not scared even though I had left TV at the peak of my career. But in the middle of this transition, when I was stepping up, I was thrown back down. For what reason? The question is not of my talent, but about somebody who had better contacts; that’s it. It took me sometime to come out of it, but then other things happened, and it instilled confidence back in me.
12. When Naseeruddin Shah elaborated on how film and television shows in India propagate sexism, calling them “rubbishy”.
Commercial films are glorifying a lot of orthodox concepts and that should change. Unfortunately the television series have also done a lot of permanent damage by propagating completely outdated and misogynistic situations by showing the woman to always be at her husband’s beck and call – lying at his feet, or waiting around, like ‘Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki‘. This kind of rubbishy and regressive family values have absolutely no place in today’s world.