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Indian politicians have been infamous for promoting their children up the ladder but trust Bollywood to popularise the term – ‘nepotism’. However, this was not the only word that made headlines as the film industry had its moment of reckoning with the Harvey Weinstein scandal exploding in Hollywood and terms such as pay disparity and feminism becoming a part of the debate in Bollywood.
When actor Kangana Ranaut called director Karan Johar “the flagbearer of nepotism”, little did she know that it will replace its colloquial Hindi counterpart, ‘bhai-bhateejawaad’. Similar to last year’s buzzword “intolerance” that became a hashtag, “nepotism” was the word of 2017 for the industry.
Karan gave it back to Kangana’s volley and the chain reaction began, with – outsiders or star kids – being asked for comments related to the newest entrant in the lingo of the film industry. From Shah Rukh Khan, Varun Dhawan, Deepika Padukone to Alia Bhatt, almost every celebrity had one nepotism-related question waiting to be answered at media interactions.
While male stars have ruled for decades, female actors have also started asserting themselves when it comes to equal pay and experimenting with roles, making the word ‘feminism’ popular, but as Priyanka Chopra put it, the phrase is still misunderstood. “There is movement but it is very nominal. We need to work so much more. In our country and across the globe, girls are treated as secondary citizen. They face violence and abuse everywhere. And feminism is a way to control that situation, but it has become a negative term,” Priyanka told PTI.
The cinema too reflected this change with women-centric films such as Lipstick Under My Burkha, Tumhari Sulu, Secret Superstar and Mom doing well at the box office this year.
In Hollywood, Weinstein, once the nurturer of independent cinema, became synonymous with sexual harassment after the New York Times broke the biggest story of this year in October by alleging multiple sexual allegations against the now-disgraced media mogul. The expose was followed by a detailed piece by journalist Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker.
Emboldened by the articles, more than 50 women, including powerful A-listers from Hollywood such as Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Lupita Nyong’o, Salma Hayek, Uma Thurman, Heather Graham, Eva Green, Lea Seydoux, came forward to share their horrific stories of sexual harassment at the hands of the producer.
One of the most powerful men in Hollywood once, Weinstein’s career is over and he has been thrown out of the company that he co-founded. The scandal had a domino effect in Hollywood with many powerful men such as Brett Ratner, James Toback, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Pive, Mark Schwahn facing similar career-ending accusations.
A tumultuous, but an equally introspective year is nearing its end. The first award ceremony of 2018 will take the issue of sexual harassment head on as both women and men of Hollywood have pledged to appear in black to address the ugly, dark side of the business. Here’s hoping Bollywood gathers the strength to call out and exposes its Weinsteins in the coming years.