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Farhan Akhtar: Are all outsiders treated badly? Not true

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Is Bollywood really divided into clans who, together, indulge in the systematic bullying and cornering of young and promising talents that threaten the status quo? Sushant Singh Rajput’s untimely demise has brought the focus back onto the operative words nepotism and movie mafia. The film fraternity is being called out for its treatment of ‘outsiders’ while praising star kids born of privilege.

In an interview with India Today Television, Farhan Akhtar said that he doesn’t believe in this carpet statement. “Our industry functions purely on success and failure. But is there a privilege for people who’re born in the film industry? Absolutely. Will it be easier for them to gain access, to pitch a script to someone or offer their services as an actor? 100 per cent, there’s no denying that. Does that mean that it’s a bad thing? No, its the lot of the draw. Your parents have worked incredibly hard to give you a headstart as any parent would like to give their kids. But are all outsiders treated badly, that’s not true. Are all industry insiders clanish, that’s not true either,” said Farhan.

At the same time, he believes one should be empathetic towards others’ struggles, and said, “But at the same time, you cannot discount the struggles of those who are not born with this privilege. You can’t not be empathetic, you can’t not understand or pretend that it doesn’t exist when they talk about it.”

When asked about the concept of movie mafia that many are pointing at right now, Farhan said, “I don’t know what this privilege club is. Who this circle is that exists within a circle, who has this kind of control over everything that goes on. As in any other fraternity, there will be certain circles of friends that will form. I’ve actually ended up becoming friends with people who have been good to me since the beginning of my career. As a producer and a director, I will always try to reach out to them and help them in whichever way I can. But I may not have had the same experience as everybody else, so I don’t know and it is not possible for me to tell you there’s no such thing. But, and this I’ve seen since forever, people flock to people who are successful. Good or bad, that can be discussed, but fortunately or unfortunately, this is the truth. When people are successful everyone is around them, when not, it’s only their closest friends who stick around.”

Farhan’s production venture, the Zoya Akhtar-directed Gully Boy also found itself caught in this controversy. While the film became a huge box-office hit, many felt the fact that it swept all the awards and became India’s official entry to the Oscars (it didn’t make Oscar’s shortlist) that year, was a result of lobbying. To that, Farhan said, “If anyone thinks that Zoya, Ritesh (Sidhwani) or I have that kind of influence to decide which will be the Best Foreign Language entry to the Oscars, then you’re giving us a lot of credit that we don’t deserve. It’s the decision of the film federation. Of course, I’m happy that my film was picked. Should I feel guilty? No.”

Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide on June 14 and since then, several theories as to what led him to this fate have been doing the rounds on social media. Farhan feels that this isn’t the right time for such speculations, and one has to give his family the time to cope with the loss instead. “It is one of the greatest tragedies that I can think of in recent times. It is a tremendous loss to the fraternity. It enrages you when you see that his family is not given the opportunity to breathe. Theories are being spun about why he did it. This is not the time for that. Let some time pass. Right now its speculation from abetment to murder to every crazy thing. Everyone suddenly knew what he thought, his journey and everything about him. What followed is a circus. Be kind, be more inclusive, be aware, reach out, but right now everyone is either got a sword out or holding a shield. It’s ugly. We should remember him for his great work and talent, mourn the fact that we lost somebody who had great potential,” Farhan added about Sushant Singh Rajput.

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