We should stop complaining about nepotism this year and learn to recognise the many benefits it can offer us
Our entertainment industry is populated by successive generations of the same film families. I stopped being able to identify stars a few years ago. Representation pic
There were significant debates about nepotism in the final weeks of 2022 on account of an article that was posted on a few social media platforms. It focused on Hollywood and the ubiquitous presence of the children of famous people at every level of the entertainment industry. I’m pretty sure it didn’t surprise anyone from India though, given our levels of comfort with nepotism in almost every aspect of our lives. For us, it is as familiar as corruption and incompetence.
I thought about why this was being made into such a big deal and wished the writers of that article could have examined how Indians have been accepting and celebrating nepotism for as long as we can remember. If they were to speak with one of us, I’m pretty sure their view of the world would be markedly different.
We have a lot to be thankful for as far as nepotism is concerned, because it is possible that our country as we know it would cease to exist without it. Look at politics, and how many sons and daughters of politicians continue to occupy space in Parliament just like their parents and grandparents before them. What would we do without nepotism in the political space? Elect qualified candidates instead of family members? Would we ever manage to get things done if we were to walk down that path?
Yes, there will always be political parties accusing other parties of being dynasties, but we know that adage involving people in glass houses and stones, so I’d rather not get into specifics. A simple Google search ought to suffice the curious. The children of our politicians are destined to become politicians, and the sooner we wrap our heads around that idea, the better it will be for everyone concerned.
Then there is our entertainment industry, populated for decades by successive generations of the same film families. I stopped being able to identify stars a few years ago, probably because of how so many of them have begun to look like minor variants of the same person. It could be the fault of their stylists, given that our celebrities appear to share the same staff, but I’m pretty sure we can’t rule out the influence of genetics either. Can you imagine the son or daughter of a star turning to a less glamorous industry to make a living in? Do we really expect them to waste time on getting an education abroad for anything other than ornamental reasons?
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Without nepotism, would we have access to innumerable versions of the same films? I think not. We would have new and diverse voices, faces, and talents; but where is the fun in that? Isn’t it nicer to be acquainted and reacquainted with the children of stars we already adore, safe in the knowledge that they will constantly allow us to gawk at younger versions of their parents as we creep towards senility?
It’s what the magic of filmmaking is all about. Hollywood is forced to spend millions on technology to make their ageing stars look younger for films like The Irishman. We don’t have to spend a rupee because there’s always some minor member of a prominent film family waiting in the wings for an opportunity.
Nepotism has another important role that is almost never acknowledged, of making sure people stick to what they know. Imagine the children of our politicians doing something other than posturing in Parliament, for instance, or the child of a movie star attempting to become a working member of society and getting a real job. Can it really be done? If it can, should it be encouraged? What next? The children of lawyers choosing accountancy as a profession? When will the madness end? I like to believe that we are smart enough to celebrate this habit of sticking to the family lane. The two or three businessmen who control this country have been pulling off this trick for years, distributing public assets among their offspring, and we haven’t had a problem with it before so why start now?
I hope the coming year ends this pointless debate permanently, allowing us to embrace nepotism and accept it as an integral part of what it means to be Indian. Without it, we may end up with something far more terrifying, like a politician’s wife abandoning the option of taking on his role after he retires and choosing to become a singer or entertainer instead. The thought is too much to bear.
When he isn’t ranting about all things Mumbai, Lindsay Pereira can be almost sweet. He tweets @lindsaypereira
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The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.