With an ongoing debate in Bollywood on nepotism in the industry there has been a constant inflow of defensive and offensive remarks, with a multitude of stances. While most acknowledge the privilege star children possess, some are beginning to come under increasing censure for an insensitive appropriation of that privilege.

Most recently, filmmaker R. Balki contributed to this debate. While he admittedly could not deny the obvious privilege and greater opportunities actors born into the industry are allowed, he took the argument to another level, indicating that these lucky individuals are deserving of their privilege as a result of their superior talent.

While acknowledging the basis for a debate on nepotism, his remark left many in the industry astounded. The Padman director, in an attempt to turn the argument, calling nepotism debates unfair to the talented progeny of those within the industry, instead sounded biased against talent who suffer from a lack of exposure and opportunity.

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He clearly stated that there is an unfair advantage possessed but took the statement forward by saying that while there are pros and cons, asking a simple question, could anyone tell him if there are any better actors than Ranbir Kapoor or Alia Bhatt.

The inappropriateness of R. Balki’s remark met with significant “respectful” outrage on social media. Shekhar Kapoor, the director of films like Mr. India and Bandit Queen, acknowledging respect for his fellow contemporary R. Balki, adamantly defied him.

He tweeted, that having watched Kai Po Che! once again the previous evening, he witnessed unbelievably stunning performances by Rajkummar Rao, Amit Sadh and late actor Sushant Singh Rajput, all new and young actors at the time, not born into the industry. In a separate tweet he acknowledged the brilliance of innumerable actors entering Bollywood through the theatre industry and back-handedly denied the superiority accorded to star children.

In a more veiled response, Tapsee Pannu also reacted on social media with a statement that said a race is fair, and its result only valid if the starting point for all involved is the same. While her remark is assumed to be a criticism of Bollywood’s nepotism, she did not go as far as to clarify her statement.

A significant reaction was also drawn from Avinash Tiwari. He asserted that better actors could not be known of if they aren’t given an opportunity and no effort is made to step out and watch them. Many reactions to his tweet came through, and actor Apurva Asrani also responded with a list of significant actors.

These statements are an interesting division of Bollywood into two camps, one in support of nepotism and another involved in a fight for equal opportunities and acknowledgement.

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