The nepotism debate hit the headlines again after Karan Johar, Saif Ali Khan and Varun Dhawan took a jibe at Kangana Ranaut at the recent IIFA Awards in New York. Everyone knows that the Queen actress had called Karan the “flag bearer of nepotism” on his chat show, kick-starting the initial controversy.
So, when Varun came on stage to receive an IIFA award, Saif joked, "You are here because of your papa (director David Dhawan)." Varun responded, "And you're here because of your mummy (veteran actress Sharmila Tagore)." Karan too jumped in with, "I am here because of my papa (late filmmaker Yash Johar)." And the trio then chanted, "Nepotism rocks". Soon after the three broke into the song, Bole Chudiye Bole Kangana, with Karan swiftly interjecting, "Kangana nahi bole toh achcha hai, bahut bolti hai."
The resulting outrage on social media saw the three backtrack immediately. While Varun and Karan apologised, Saif went a step further and wrote an open letter to clarify his views on the subject while making an argument for genetics and talent. Now, Kangana has broken her silence and penned an open letter in response to it.
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Kangana starts her letter by saying that the last time she was “deeply pained and upset” about nepotism was when Karan, in his blog, dismissed talent as one of the criteria to excel in films. She goes on to give examples of legendary film stars and directors like Dilip Kumar, K Asif, Bimal Roy, Satyajit Ray and Guru Dutt to make her point, stating that Karan is either misinformed or naïve to discredit their talent, which has shaped the language of contemporary Indian cinema, and that this is “absolutely bizzare”.
Kangana states firmly that nepotism "fails the test of objectivity and rationale". Responding to Saif's argument on genetics, she says: "I fail to understand how you can compare genetically hybrid racehorses to artistes." Asking if Saif actually believes that talent is only hereditary, she says: “Are you implying that artistic skills, hard work, experience, concentration spans, enthusiasm, eagerness, discipline and love can be inherited through family genes? If your point was true, I would be a farmer back home.”
She adds, “You also spoke of eugenics -- which means controlled breeding of the human race. So far, I believe that the human race hasn't found the DNA that can pass on greatness and excellence. If it had, we would've loved to repeat the greatness of Einstein, Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Vivekananda, Stephen Hawking, Terence Tao, Daniel Day-Lewis, or Gerhard Richter.”
In his letter, Saif had blamed the media as the real flag-bearer of nepotism. To which Kangana has said, “ Nepotism is merely a weakness of the human nature; it takes great deal of will-power and strength to rise above our intrinsic nature -- sometimes we excel, sometimes we don't. No one is putting a gun to anyone's head to hire talent they don't believe in. So, there is no need to get defensive about one's choices.”
Kangana has concluded her letter by asking, “So, should we make peace with nepotism?” Now, that remains to be seen.