Kangana Ranaut’s open letter to Saif Ali Khan: There is no need to get defensive about one’s choices

In her open letter, Kangana Ranaut shares her perspective on nepotism after reading Saif Ali Khan's letter on the issue. She says if Saif's views on genetic inheritance were right, then she would have been a farmer back at home.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 22, 2017 11:53 pm
kangana ranaut, kangana ranaut open letter, kangana ranaut saif ali khan nepotism, kangana reacts on nepotism, Kangana Ranaut on Saturday penned a letter addressed mostly to her Rangoon co-star, Saif Ali Khan.

First, came an apology from Varun Dhawan. Then it was Karan Johar who promised that he will not speak about nepotism nor Kangana because it would be ‘distrustful’ for her and it would be ungraceful on his part. And it was only yesterday that Saif Ali Khan’s open letter on the issue went viral.

Unless you live under a rock, you must be well aware what triggered the nepotism debate once again in Bollywood. At IIFA 2017, Karan Johar, Saif Ali Khan and Varun Dhawan poked fun at Kangana Ranaut and had the courage to scream “Nepotism rocks’’ on the dais in front of the global audience.

While the three men were slammed for their act, the fans of Bollywood’s Queen were waiting for her response to the entire brouhaha. And finally, she spoke. Kangana Ranaut on Saturday penned an open letter in Mid-Day addressed mostly to her Rangoon co-star, Saif. Nowhere in her letter does Kangana take Karan Johar’s name. She also refrained from mentioning his apology as well.

Here is what Kangana wrote in her letter:

All the debate and exchange of thoughts on nepotism is exasperating but healthy. While I enjoyed some of the perspectives on this subject, I did find a few disturbing ones. This morning, I woke up to one such open letter (circulating online), written by Saif Ali Khan.

The last time I was deeply pained and upset about this issue was when Mr Karan Johar wrote a blog on it, and even once declared in an interview that there are many criteria for excelling in the film business. Talent is not one of them.

I don’t know if he was being misinformed, or simply naïve, but to discredit the likes of Mr Dilip Kumar, Mr K Asif, Mr Bimal Roy, Mr Satyajit Ray, Mr Guru Dutt, and many more, whose talent and exceptional abilities have formed the spine of our contemporary film business, is absolutely bizarre.

Even in today’s times, there are plenty of examples where it has repeatedly been proven that beyond the superficiality of branded clothes, polished accents, and a sanitised upbringing, exists grit, genuine hard-work, diligence, eagerness to learn, and the gigantic power of the human spirit. Many examples, all over the world, in every field, are a testimony to that. My dear friend Saif has written a letter on this topic and I would like to share my perspective. My request is that people must not misconstrue this and pit us against each other.

This is just a healthy exchange of ideas and not a clash between individuals.

Saif, in your letter you mentioned that, “I apologised to Kangana, and I don’t owe anyone any explanation, and this issue is over.” But this is not my issue alone. Nepotism is a practice where people tend to act upon temperamental human emotions, rather than intellectual tendencies. Businesses that are run by human emotions and not by great value-systems, might gain superficial profits. However, they cannot be truly productive and tap into the true potential of a nation of more than 1.3 billion people.

Nepotism, on many levels, fails the test of objectivity and rationale. I have acquired these values from the ones who have found great success and discovered a higher truth, much before me. These values are in the public domain, and no one has a copyright on them.

Greats like Vivekananda, Einstein and Shakespeare didn’t belong to a select few. They belonged to collective humanity. Their work has shaped our future, and our work will shape the future of the coming generations.

Today, I can afford to have the willpower to stand for these values, but tomorrow, I might fail, and help my own children realise their dreams of stardom. In that case, I believe that I would have failed as an individual. But the values will never fail. They will continue to stand tall and strong, long after we are gone.

So, we owe an explanation to everyone who either owns or wants to own these values. Like I said, we are the ones who will shape the future of the coming generations.

In another part of your letter, you talked about the relationship between genetics and star kids, where you emphasised on nepotism being an investment on tried and tested genes. I have spent a significant part of my life studying genetics. But, I fail to understand how you can compare genetically hybrid racehorses to artistes!

Are you implying that artistic skills, hard-work, experience, concentration spans, enthusiasm, eagerness, discipline and love, can be inherited through family genes? If your point was true, I would be a farmer back home. I wonder which gene from my gene-pool gave me the keenness to observe my environment, and the dedication to interpret and pursue my interests.

You also spoke of eugenics — which means controlled breeding of the human race. So far, I believe that the human race hasn’t found the DNA that can pass on greatness and excellence. If it had, we would’ve loved to repeat the greatness of Einstein, Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Vivekananda, Stephen Hawking, Terence Tao, Daniel Day-Lewis, or Gerhard Richter.

You also said that the media is to be blamed, since it is the real flag-bearer of nepotism. That makes it sound like a crime, which is far from the truth. Nepotism is merely a weakness of the human nature; it takes a great deal of willpower and strength to rise above our intrinsic nature — sometimes we excel, sometimes we don’t. No one is putting a gun to anyone’s head to hire the talent they don’t believe in. So, there is no need to get defensive about one’s choices.

In fact, the subtext of all my talk on this subject has been to encourage outsiders to take the path less travelled. Bullying, jealousy, nepotism and territorial human tendencies are all part of the entertainment industry, much like any other. If you don’t find acceptance in the mainstream, go off beat — there are so many ways of doing the same thing.

I think the privileged are the least to be blamed in this debate since they are part of the system, which is set around chain reactions. Change can only be caused by those who want it. It is the prerogative of the dreamer who learns to take his or her due, and not ask for it.

You are absolutely right — there is a lot of excitement and admiration for the lives of the rich and famous. But at the same time, our creative industry gets this love from our countrymen, because we are like a mirror to them — whether it’s Langda Tyagi from Omkara or Rani from Queen, we are loved for the extraordinary portrayal of the ordinary.

So, should we make peace with nepotism? The ones who think it works for them can make peace with it. In my opinion, that is an extremely pessimistic attitude for a Third World country, where many people don’t have access to food, shelter, clothing, and education. The world is not an ideal place, and it might never be. That is why we have the industry of arts. In a way, we are the flag-bearers of hope.

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  1. D
    Disha
    Jul 26, 2017 at 11:50 am
    Awesome Reply...beauty with brains
    Reply
    1. S
      Sudhir Chopra
      Jul 26, 2017 at 12:06 am
      Bravo young lady...You have an exceptional clarity of thoughts and fearless at ude to express them....Some of these, so called star kids suck , so go ahead and ignore them.
      Reply
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        Amit X
        Jul 24, 2017 at 10:11 pm
        I am perplexed by Saif's comments. Did he mean to say that because Sharmila Tagore became an actress, she developed/activated "actor genes" in her cells and then passed them on to her kid??? That is the most laughable thing I have heard. What surprises me is that this is the apology or explanation he came up with in response to his disgusting act on stage! Just goes on to show further what ignorant and delusional world some people live in!
        Reply
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          Amit X
          Jul 24, 2017 at 10:05 pm
          Yes, nepotism exists to some extent across the world. But not in the same way as it does in India. In India, nepotism means knowingly giving opportunity to talentless/ skilless relatives and friends over a talented stranger. "Knowingly" is the key word here. In foreign countries, you do see people providing opportunities to their friends, etc. but it is because they don't have a more accessible talent at that time. If they knew of a more talented/ suited individual, they would usually select that individual over their friend. The stupid recent act by three immature star kids on IIFA stage actually helped Kangana's argument because it made the state of affairs in Bollywood (and India in general) very clear. Indian mentality is all about doing the wrong thing and then either sweeping it under the rug, or proudly beating one's chest about it, instead of openly accepting the problem and working on rectifying it.
          Reply
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            Veronica Ciccone
            Jul 24, 2017 at 2:42 pm
            On point clap back to Saif's embarrassing letter that made no sense at all.
            Reply
            1. V
              vrinda
              Jul 24, 2017 at 3:38 am
              such a perfect and talented reply by talented girl to untalented nepotiesm favoured persons..she is right i support her
              Reply
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                Anto
                Jul 24, 2017 at 12:50 am
                Tally ho...wonderful, rightful thoughts...it would take courage for Saif and Co to see and accept the truth...
                Reply
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                  Akash
                  Jul 24, 2017 at 12:27 am
                  M a great fan of urs but think u taking it too far this time U r a great actor we have in today's time Think if ur child want to be b like u Will u not going to promote him/her??? It's bit natural But there sustainablity will depends on there skill Like u Going through all the odds u turned out to be one of the finest star we have in Bollywood today
                  Reply
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