Priyanka Chopra has accused some top filmmakers in Bollywood of nepotism and bias Video Credit: Gulf News

“I cannot really work with people I don’t like any more and that’s really non negotiable. I have to admire and look up to people I work with, I want to be excited and inspired when I go into work. This is something as I have evolved become most important to me”.

A combative Priyanka Chopra spoke to the press in Mumbai last week, about her journey in Bollywood and her sensational claim that she left for America 8 years ago after being sidelined by a clique within the industry.

Priyanka Chopra’s journey from small town India to Hollywood is an incredible tale of determination, hard work and the ultimate revenge — super success. She went from superstardom in India to find a place in the west — never an easy ask. But she did it, American accent and all.

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Outsiders vs favourites

With her latest comments, Priyanka has blown the lid off Bollywood’s toxic culture, it’s poor treatment of female actors as well as “outsiders”, i.e. those not born into a filmi family. This is not the first time Bollywood has been called out but it’s clear the industry has done little to address these issues.

Speaking on a podcast by Dax Shepherd, Priyanka had said, “I was being pushed into a corner in the industry (Bollywood). I had people not casting me. I had beef with people, I am not good at playing that game so I kind of was tired of the politics and I said I needed a break.”

For many, this wasn’t a surprise because Priyanka was speaking openly about what the industry had whispered about for years. An alleged “close relationship” with a superstar which then lead to her alleged ostracisation by his powerful wife and their Bollywood clique, including a famous film director known for his over the top, mushy Hindi films. Kangana Ranaut named Karan Johar in her tweets in support of Priyanka.

Nepo babies of Bollywood

Film writer Apurva Asrani has also publicly spoken about Priyanka’s disclosure, saying a campaign was run in 2012 to discredit her and drive her out. He tweeted, “Finally Priyanka Chopra reveals what everyone knew, but said not a word. Not the liberals, not the feminists. They hail those that ostracised her, celebrate the kings that tried to destroy her. It is a massive win that she didn’t end up like Parveen Babi or Sushant Singh Rajput.”

Her podcast also reignited the debate on “nepo babies” with Priyanka Chopra making it clear she had no godfather or the advantage of having a head start because a family member was already in the industry.

“I was terrified when those six movies did not do well because I’m not a nepo baby. I didn’t have that kind of support which exists in a big way in Bollywood movies,” she said, adding, “They are multigenerational actors that come in and get multiple opportunities vs the ones that come in from outside. You don’t have your uncle making a new movie for you just because your last one tanked.”

What makes her comments stand out even more is the fact that mainstream Bollywood actors rarely speak out against its toxic misogyny. Especially successful ones like Priyanka. Female actors in Bollywood are paid far less than their male counterparts, many roles still have them do little more than be arm candy.

Despite the success of Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan, the industry is going through tough times at the box office. South Indian cinema, on the other hand, is doing much better.

Bollywood still represents the hopes and dreams of millions of people. They need to address their demons to make it a more fair playing field.