Bollywood is quite a confusing place to be a part of. For decades, it has gained fame as the heart and soul of Indian cinema. Audiences not only in India but across the world have been captivated by its glittering stars, extravagant sets, and larger-than-life storylines. But, as the saying goes, not all that shines is gold, and Bollywood, too, is no exception. There lies a darker reality – one behind all that glitz and glamour. It is characterized by a toxic culture of sexism, exploitation, and mainly, nepotism.
There are several Bollywood celebrities who have shown the courage to come forward and speak out against this culture, shedding much-needed light on the deep-rooted problems of the Bollywood culture. In today’s article, we will be exploring the issue of toxicity in Bollywood and examine and appreciate the celebrities who are using their fame not merely for themselves, but to advocate for change and make Bollywood a better place.
1. Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Priyanka Chopra Jonas was absent for quite a considerable time from Bollywood, and that left us wondering about her lack of film projects in India. However, she recently opened up in a podcast interview, revealing that there had been a point in her life when she had been pushed to the sidelines of the industry.
While she did not take any names in particular, there were many speculations when she added that she faced rejection from “certain individuals”. She explained further, “I was being pushed into a corner in the industry. I had people not casting me, I had beef with people, I am not good at playing that game so I kind of was tired of the politics and I said I needed a break.”
2. Sushant Singh Rajput
During an interaction with a fan on Twitter, the late and loved actor Sushant Singh Rajput hinted at his negative and not-so-great experience in Bollywood and requested the fan to watch Sonchiriya, which was Sushant’s 2019 film. The fan replied saying that he was disappointed that most of Sushant’s characters met tragic ends in his movies and that he wouldn’t watch it. This expression of disappointment by the fan was met by Sushant’s heartfelt appeal requesting him to watch the movie, as his survival in Bollywood depended on his fans.
He wrote, “Arre but if you do not watch it then they would throw me out of Bollywood. I have no godfather, I have made you (all) my Gods and fathers. Watch it at least if you wish I do survive in Bollywood.” Doesn’t this leave us wondering about the intense pressure and insecurity behind the flashy smiles of actors and actresses in the cutthroat world of Bollywood?
3. Kangana Ranaut
Kangana Ranaut is one woman with courage, having made several tongue-in-cheek remarks about the culture of Bollywood. On her appearance on Koffee With Karan, she made a very popular quip about Karan Johar being a “flag-bearer of nepotism” and said, “In my biopic, if it is ever made, you will play this stereotypical Bollywood biggie who is very snooty and completely intolerant to outsiders and flag bearer of nepotism, the movie mafia.” Sonam Kapoor has also been in the limelight along with Karan Johar for calling Kangana’s English language skills “questionable” and passing it off as a joke.
4. Abhay Deol
In 2019, actor Abhay Deol, famous for his role in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, told the public his reason for taking a long break from films. He broke his silence by saying to Mid-Day, “No one is giving me any work. The kind of content I want to be part of is hardly made.” Sometime later, through an Instagram post, the actor revealed that the Bollywood lobby had gone against him, by demoting him and Farhan Akhtar from the position of main leads in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara to being nominated for “supporting actors” in award functions.
5. AR Rahman
You will be pretty shocked to know that even AR Rahman, the legendary music composer, and singer, hasn’t been spared from the negative culture prevalent in Bollywood. In an interview with Radio Mirchi, he revealed that due to a certain “gang” spreading false rumors about him, he was not getting any work in the industry.
As reported by PTI, he said, “People are expecting me to do stuff, but there is another gang of people preventing that from happening…I am taking my own movies and doing my other stuff.” Isn’t it shocking to know how deep the roots of toxicity in Bollywood run, and how it is discouraging tons of artists?
6. Vivek Oberoi
Actor Vivek Oberoi is famous for his recent work in PM Narendra Modi along with classics such as Yuva, Omkara, and Kyun! Ho Gaya Na revealed that he is also a victim of Bollywood lobbying. In a recent conversation with Hindustan Times, he said, “I went through a lot of stuff that was unnecessary. A lot of lobbies, a lot of repressive stories – kind of what Priyanka (Chopra) has been alluding to also.”
“You feel like, I’ve just delivered an award-winning, commercially successful performance in Shootout At Lokhandwala and after that, I’m sitting at home for 14 months, not getting any work,” he alleged, taking a dig at certain prominent personalities.
7. Resul Pookutty
Even after winning an Oscar for his magnificent sound designing work in Slumdog Millionaire, sound designer Resul Pookutty said that he struggled to find work in Hindi films. “There were production houses who told me at my face ‘we don’t need you’,” Pookutty tweeted in 2020. However, he later claimed that the “Oscar curse is over.” This experience sheds light on the dark side of Bollywood, where success is both respected as well as looked down upon, making it a double-edged sword.
8. Abhinav Kashyap
The director of the popular Bollywood film Dabangg, Abhinav Kashyap, recently claimed that he was badly bullied during the release of his movie Besharam. Raising his voice post Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, Kashyap openly alleged in a now-deleted Facebook post that Salman Khan and his family were working to sabotage his career. He wrote, “The release of the film got their PROs to run a sustained negative smear campaign against me and my film Besharam before release. Over the next few years, all my projects and creative endeavors have been sabotaged.”
Not very surprisingly, the eight celebrities mentioned in this list are not the only ones who have had to face the wrath of Bollywood’s toxic culture. Many other celebrities such as Divya Dutta, Sona Mahapatra, and Sonu Nigam have also allegedly faced toxicity in Bollywood and are strictly against it. Do let us know in the comments which of these experiences shocked you the most!