After hearing the death of Sushant Singh Rajput and following the subsequent discussion on nepotism in Bollywood, one of the most intriguing question which came to my mind was “How is nepotism as a system surviving in such a creative industry?” Does the statement “Talent has no bound” have any merit or is it just a way to rationalize the success of less fortunate (read less connected) ones while hiding the hardships they had to endure.
One framework to understand things better is to know the relationship of social classes with access to money(resources), education(skills) and key people(influential connections). People who are at the lowest rung of the society aspire for more money to live the life of their dreams, the ones who are somewhere near the middle, look for education as the ultimate panacea of their hardships and key to a good future. However, people at the highest rung of the ladder aspire for access to key people.
This aspiration is evident because people at the bottom are bought by politicians in pennies, they indulge themselves in things like lottery tickets and so on. A middle class family wants its kids to get into IITs, IIMs and have the highest possible education. Higher class parents train their kids to develop good relationship with similar class folks in their career. It can be during studies or in jobs. For them, access to successful and influential people is the key.
Sushant Singh Rajput had earned good money and was educated enough to learn anything he wanted to put his mind into, however, he was lonely in his journey and no one was there to back him. He was missing the last key for access to a celebrity status i.e. access to influential people to back him.
Next natural question which arises is how to solve this last piece of puzzle. Is there a way to crack the code of becoming a higher class person? Can individual achievements alone take you there?
Now check this wikipedia page on the list of Indian film families. Its intriguing to see that there is a web of 115 families in bollywood and the complete hindi movie industry revolves around them.
Every successful person is either a part of these families or becomes part of these families through the holy grail methods of getting access to these societies aka marriage.
Marriage is the only systemic way for influential groups to retain control of the industry. This is true from the time of earlier kingdoms to present influential families. Marriages are not made in heaven, they are made in company board rooms.
What you and I call as nepotism is a well established practice in higher class, accessible only through the social ritual of weddings.
This ancient practice ensures access to the successful people and retains power under one roof.
(Created with creative and editorial inputs from my wife Disha)