Despite being what many may refer to as a Bollywood star kid, actor Abhay Deol has addressed the raging nepotism debate in the film industry that has reared its head in light of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death last month.
The younger actor, who’s uncle Dharmendra was a superstar in the film industry during his prime with hits such as ‘Sholay’, ‘Phool Aur Patthar’, ‘Aankhen’ and many more, spoke at length about making his own way into Bollywood, despite being a member of the Deol family.
“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 [sic],” Deol wrote in a lengthy post on Instagram.
Deol’s first film was ‘Socha Na Tha’ (2005), which was directed by Imtiaz Ali and produced by veteran star Dharmendra. However, the veteran star’s nephew stated that despite his big break, he chose to forge his own path in the film industry.
“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,” Deol further wrote.
The 44-year-old actor, who never reached the career heights of his uncle, nor his cousin, actor-filmmaker Sunny Deol, further stated that “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,” Deol further wrote.
Some of the younger actor’s successful films include ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd’ (2007), ‘Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!’ (2008), ‘Dev.D’ (2009) and his biggest commercial hit, ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ (2011).
Yet, despite these hits, and some cult noire such as ‘Manorama Six Feet Under’ (2006) ‘Ek Chalis Ki Last Local’ (2006), Deol’s career graph largely saddled him to smaller roles in movies such as ‘Raanjhanaa’ (2013) and ‘Happy Bhag Jayegi’ (2016).
The actor has largely made news headlines for speaking out against social issues in India, such as calling out celebrities endorsing fairness products, including his own cousin, actress Esha Deol.
Deol also didn’t hesitate to bring in the issue of caste while discussing nepotism in India. “While it plays a part in every country, nepotism has taken on another dimension here in India. 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,” he stated in his post.
The actor further said: “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.”
Deol added that “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.”
Calling the ongoing debate a “watershed moment”, Deol stated that a lone voice he has been on the receiving end of hate, but the collective voices today will be heard.
Deol is one of many celebrities who have spoken out in wake of Rajput’s suicide on June 14. Fans, family members and politicians are calling for a Central Bureau of Investigation-led probe into the actor’s death, with the theory that the star was targeted for being an outsider and shunned from plum projects.