Indian Bollywood actor Farhan Akhtar Image Credit: AFP

Farhan Akhtar has weighed in on the nepotism debate following Arjun Tendulkar being snapped up to join the Mumbai Indians squad at the recent Indian Premier League auction.

The Bollywood actor-filmmaker has batted in defense of Sachin Tendulkar’s son making the cut after he was auctioned for Rs2 million. While the left arm pacer has been gradually building a name for himself on the domestic circuit, many cricketing fans were quick to argue that the 21-year-old was only picked up because of his last name.

Arjun Tendulkar, son of Sachin Tendulkar bowls in the nets against England players Image Credit: Reuters

With calls of nepotism gathering steam, Akhtar waded into the conversation with his own take.

“I feel I should say this about #Arjun_Tendulkar. We frequent the same gym & I’ve seen how hard he works on his fitness, seen his focus to be a better cricketer. To throw the word ‘nepotism’ at him is unfair & cruel. Don’t murder his enthusiasm & weigh him down before he’s begun,” tweeted Akhtar.

Akhtar’s tweet snowballed into yet another deliberation on the subject, with fans divided on the younger Tendulkar’s inclusion in the squad.

“Don’t you think there are many more lads in the town who are as focussed, as dedicated, as enthusiastic (if not more) as #Arjun_Tendulkar ? Not questioning his talent or dedication, just asking if all of them are getting the same opportunity like him or not,” tweeted Sreedeep Dripto Banerjee in response to Akthar.

“Any young Indian cricketer playing and scoring tons in domestic circuit also trains at gyms and practices on field as much as someone with famous surname does. A famous surname gets you ‘easily’ noticed by scouts. That’s an advantage one can’t write off. #Arjun_Tendulkar,” posted Twitter user @amarik1801.

Twitter user @himanitri was in agreement saying: “Nepotism means finding placement by the power of your father or family. We have brighter cricketers than arjun but arjun was picked. Y? Bcz of sachin. Out of 130 millions, 120 millions play cricket and 30 millions play to get selected for india but arjun passed all’em [sic].”

Twitter user Prajakta Kadam was also of similar mind, adding: “Please come out of the gym and see other lads working hard too.(dose who dun have gym facilities and conveniently dropped out of cricket selection) A poor shudnt get an opportunity and the rich getting it is nepotism.”

Sandeep Deshpande also tweeted to Akhtar, posting: “There are other cricketers of unknown privileges who are working equally hard if not harder but who don’t get such easy route to chances like Arjun has got just because of who he is.”

Deshpande’s tweet, however, drew a response from Rushabh Bramhecha who added: “Agreed to your point sir but is it his mistake to be privileged in most Indian families a father tries to pass the benefit of his contacts to his children. IPL is a private league where team owners have a right to buy player they want....it’s not selection in Indian team.”

Bramhecha’s tweet wasn’t alone in defending the young cricketer. “His performance in the domestic scene has earned him what he’s got. And like in the movies, his performance is the only thing that will pave the course of his career! Armchair critics will keep talking & that shouldn’t matter! Hope he rocks the IPL,” tweeted film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi.

Farhan Akhtar with his father Javed Akhtar and his step mother Shabana Azmi Image Credit: AFP

As the debate raged on, Akhtar himself has been on the receiving end of the nepotism debate with his father, Bollywood lyricist and scriptwriter Javed Akhtar earning a name in the industry for penning scripts of award-winning films such as ‘Sholay’ and ‘Shakti’.