Karan Johar, Saif Ali Khan, Varun Dhawan and the art of the non-apology
19 February, 2017.
Also known as World Nepotism Day. Also known as the day that one of the biggest sh*tstorms of Bollywood commenced. Also known as the day that Kween Kangana took a big fat mirror, mirror on the wall and held it up to the bad bully of tinsel town.
This day marked the start of Karan 'flag bearer of nepotism' Johar's new identity. It was also the day that the strugglers and the outsiders found a shining, albeit minuscule, beacon of hope.
It was the day that Kangana Ranaut appeared on Karan Johar's (in)famous chat show Koffee With Karan and left Bollywood as we know it — shook (pardon me, my millennial is showing).
Several controversies later, the Hindi film industry was in the news once again at the IIFA 2017 awards function held in New Jersey — as three of Bollywood's beaming products of nepotism waved their privileged silver-spoons in the air as they cracked tasteless wisecracks about a strong and unfiltered individual in her absence.
Now I'm all for jokes, even dark humour (AIB roast — hilarious), but when you take a hot topic that affects many (Mumbai isn't known as the City of Dreams for nothing; outsiders swarm in millions to make something out of themselves here) and make light of the matter on an influential public platform — juxtaposing an issue that many face discrimination over, with 'yo mama, yo papa' jokes, especially when you are the very force that forms the driving factor behind said discrimination — then it is clear that you are bullies. Plain and simple.
What followed is a tradition in Bollywood — if there is a statement, there will be a retraction.
Behold, the outpouring of 'heartfelt' apologies and 'genuine regret' while looking at the incident in hindsight. Behold carefully crafted words scripted by PR representatives of the stars, with the sole purpose of doing damage control before their client's reputation is blown to smithereens.
So here we have Karan Johar, Varun Dhawan and Saif Ali Khan taking to various social media platforms and giving exclusive one-on-one interviews where they are deeply apologetic over what has transpired.
Because it's not like they didn't know they were going to crack the joke right? It's not like they didn't conceive, conceptualise and consequently pen the whole damn thing down in their pre-written script for the most awaited award function of Bollywood.
Nope, the joke came out of nowhere, hit them smack in their face and took them by complete surprise; much like their papa-mumma's legacy.
Make no mistake, there will be countless more Karans, Saifs and Varuns that will make such comments in the future, just because they can. Because they were born into a family that had already established a name for themselves and these kids were none too happy to accept that, and flaunt it.
Let's see how Karan Johar would have made his directorial debut without such ease if it weren't for veteran director Yash Johar a.k.a Karan's Papa. How Saif Ali Khan would have gotten his big break if it weren't for yesteryear's beloved star Sharmila Tagore. How Sara Ali Khan is getting her big break because of her dad. How Varun Dhawan would have blown us all away with his impeccable comic timing without comedy king David Dhawan.
There's no denying that these individuals are talented — they wouldn't have been able to sustain themselves in the industry if they weren't (*cough* Abhishek Bachchan, Uday Chopra, Esha Deol *cough*), but their parents' legacy had a lot to do with the turbo push that they received which propelled them towards immediate stardom.
Because what mind boggling level of privilege would you have to come from to actually feel entitled, moreover comfortable, to make the joke 'Nepotism Rocks'!?
One thing is for sure — Saif, Karan and Varun may not yet have mastered their craft, but they sure have mastered the Art of the Non-Apology.
They will because they can, and there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it.