Sushant Singh Rajput's death has exposed the deep faultlines in the Hindi film industry with issues such as favouritism, lobbying, nepotism and discrimination emerging from tinsel town into the spotlight of introspection and discussion.
And, actor Abhay Deol is glad that there is “an active debate on the practices behind the scenes." The Dev D star, who credits his uncle, veteran actor Dharmendra as his inspiration, said he was well aware of the existence of nepotism as it “pushed me to take chances with new directors and producers throughout my career.”
Sharing a lengthy post on Instagram, alongside a picture of himself juxtaposed with a photograph of Dharmendra, Abhay wrote, "My uncle, whom I affectionately call dad, was an outsider who made it big in the film industry. I’m glad there is an active debate on the practices behind the scenes. Nepotism is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve only ever made one film with my family, my 1st, and I’m grateful to be blessed and have that privileged. I’ve gone that extra mile in my career to make my own path, something that dad always encouraged. For me he was the inspiration."
Abhay Deol, who stepped into Bollywood with Socha Na Tha, produced by Dharmendra's banner Vijayta Films, further wrote in his post, "Nepotism is prevalent everywhere in our culture, be it in politics, business, or film. I was well aware of it and it pushed me to take chances with new directors and producers throughout my career. That is how I was able to make movies that were considered 'out of the box.' I’m glad some of those artists and films went on to have tremendous success."
"While it plays a part in every country, nepotism has taken on another dimension here in India," he continued. "I suspect caste plays a major role in it being more pronounced here than in other parts of the world. After all, it is “jati” that dictates that a son carry on the work of his father, while the daughter is expected to marry and be a housewife."
Abhay concluded his post, saying that "if we are serious about making changes for the better, then focusing on only one aspect, one industry, while ignoring the many others, will be incomplete and possibly counter productive. We need a cultural evolution. After all, where do our filmmakers, politicians and businessmen come from? They are people just like everyone. They grow up within the same system as everybody else. They are a reflection of their culture. Talent everywhere deserves a chance to shine in his or her medium.
"As we have learnt over the past few weeks, there are several ways in which an artist is either uplifted to success, or beaten down to failure. I’m glad more actors are coming out today and speaking of their experiences. I’ve been vocal about mine for years now, but as a lone voice I could only do so much. It’s easy to smear one artist for speaking out, and I have been at the receiving end from time to time. But as a group, a collective, that becomes difficult. Maybe now is our watershed moment."