Writer-director Vishal Bhardwaj has stepped into the massive controversy surrounding Bollywood following the suspicious death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, and has given his two condescending bits on the same. Mumbai’s film industry, as of this moment, is engulfed in a massive drug and narcotics investigation which is being conducted by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). Stars like Deepika Padukone, Shraddha Kapoor, Sara Ali Khan, among others have been called in for questioning, even as the NCB now turns its eyes towards Karan Johar next.
Vishal Bhardwaj, upon being asked about the present atmosphere and controversy surrounding Bollywood went on to propound about the alleged and highly suspicious ‘love’ which exists among Mumbai’s film stars. Vishal Bhardwaj also dismissed allegations of a “toxic work culture” prevailing in Bollywood, while also adding that the entire “Outsider-Insider” narrative was a load of bunkum. “I don’t personally feel there is toxic work culture. I believe there is so much love in our work culture. The film unit becomes like a complete family. There is such a beautiful work culture (here),” Bhardwaj said.
“Ours is a beautiful industry, which has been ruined due to vested interest and we all know about this. And we also know why it is happening. So please forgive us, leave us on our own. We are doing good.” The occasional director added, “It has nothing to do with insider or outsider. All this is banai hui bakwas (All this nonsense has been made up). We are like a family. I never felt like an outsider in the industry.”
While Vishal Bhardwaj is entitled to his opinions, even if he comes out as an ignoramus of the highest order, what he is not entitled to is to belittle those who are speaking against the self-serving industry. Further, Bhardwaj also has no business trying to discount those actors or aspirants, who fail to make the cut in Mumbai due to a multiplicity of reasons, the primary ones being nepotism and blindness towards real talent, as people who are untalented altogether.
“This industry is such a place where you can become a star or a joker overnight. If you have talent no one can stop you from making a mark, be it somebody from a filmy background or a non-filmy background,” Vishal Bhardwaj said. Would Vishal Bhardwaj have the courage to tell all those people whose growth was inhibited in Mumbai’s film industry, straight to their face, that they were not able to make it big due to a lack of talent, even as untalented star kids continue to hog one film after the other?
Vishal Bhardwaj, in a completely condescending tone, also tried to portray Indian audiences as those which are duplicitous, and those which despite the outrage against Bollywood, will be the first to line up and get tickets to watch films once the cinemas are thrown open for the public. “This is one side bowling happening. We are yet to get to ball because our theatres are closed. Those who are abusing are the ones who go and purchase tickets to watch films. Let our Friday come,” he said.
The tone in which Vishal Bhardwaj addresses Indian audiences is one which is of the predisposition that Indians consider Bollywood stars demigods of sorts, which might be true for a minuscule fraction of the audiences, but which is certainly a grand overestimation on the part of Bhardwaj. The director must remember that a lot has changed between Bollywood and its audiences since June, as the real face of many goliaths from Mumbai’s film industry stands exposed.
Whether it be drugs, nepotism, discrimination or even anxiety-inducing behaviour of Bollywood’s hegemons, a lot has been exposed in the past few months, which has drastically changed the relationship between the film industry and Indian audiences. Vishal Bhardwaj will be well advised to not overestimate the ability of Bollywood to flourish despite unprecedented outrage against it. A glaring example of film performances being hurt due to the misadventures of a few would be the box office run of Chhapaak, starring Deepika Padukone, which was severely impacted due to her PR stunt at JNU.