Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor Khan recently weighed in on the nepotism debate when she blamed the audience for making children of film stars, stars.
In an interview with journalist Barkha Dutt for Mojo News, Kapoor said that she found the entire nepotism in Bollywood debate - which surged once again following the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput - rather "weird" as it was the audience that had the power to make or break the star.
Adding that if people had such a problem with star kids, then they should stop watching their films. The comments have attracted an insane amount of trolling on social media. Days after the interview was aired, a clip from the interview - the portion where Khan asks viewers to not watch films of star kids if they hate it so much - has been going viral on Twitter on Monday.
Critics objected to Kapoor's statements as rather ungrateful, considering that she herself is the daughter of actors Randhir Kapoor and Babita and that she entered the film industry when sister Karisma Kapoor was already an established actress in Bollywood.
The trolling soon took a nasty turn when trolls started to call for a boycott of her upcoming film Laal Singh Chaddha with Aamir Khan. Many called Kapoor an arrogant snob.
This trend of calling for a boycott of films by trending viral hashtag campaigns against actors on social media came to the fore earlier when trolls downvoted 'Chapaak' on the film rating site IMDB following its actor Deepika Padukone show of solidarity for the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. The students had been protesting on against an attack that took place within campus previously when masked men and women entered the premises and beat up students and teachers.
The intimidation tactic may work to reduce the success of an actor's film. But what about all the other people involved in the making of the film? Do trolls ever wonder how a film's bad performance due to social media trolling affects filmmakers and other actors whose hopes or finances might be pinned on its success?
Calling for a boycott was also not enough. Trolls made personal remarks and brought out lists of films the actress had worked in to analyse the number of "hits" and "flops".
Comments about the age difference between Saif Ali Khan, whom she married in 2012 and her alleged "anti-national" acts also surfaced.
All because she was asked a question in an interview which she answered, perhaps a bit tactlessly.
Now comes the second part of the story. Should Kareena be trolled for what she said? Because what she said was not very inaccurate either. Viewers do make or break stars and Kapoor has been a fairly popular actress in Bollywood. She has also worked in the film industry for nearly 21 years and acted in over 60 films. To call for a boycott of her films just because she happens to be the daughter of film stars herself and was asked to air her views on nepotism is not just mean but also attempt to expunge the actress's body of work of all merit.
As she herself pointed out, star kids may get an easy launchpad but that did not ensure their longevity or performance in the industry. Parental influence may get a potential actor a break in the industry but it can never ensure the actor's popularity among the masses.
Kapoor, though, is perhaps no stranger to trolling or public controversies. A few years ago when decided to name her first child Taimur, many blamed her for hurting the sentiments of Hindus for naming her child on Taimur (Timur) Lang, the founder of the Timurid dynasty. She is used to people scrutinizing everything about her - from what she is eating to maintain her slim body or whom she is kissing behind locked doors (Remember the slut-shaming after the "viral" leaked MMS of the actress and her then beau Shahid Kapoor in 2004 before things even started going viral?) It is fair to say though Kapoor may have entered the industry with a little leg up from her filmy background, she has found her own battles in the industry and also received her share of criticism.
And as an actor, the only criticism that should matter should come from film critics. Using a film's earnings as a metric for an actor's performance or the merit of the film is uneducated and inaccurate, especially in India where films make money based on item numbers, male machismo and over the top promotions.
Instead of focusing on how to hate on actors and actresses, perhaps viewers can indeed take a second look at the kind of films they have been watching over the past few years. Perhaps the actress is right. If viewers stop falling into the same old traps of Bollywood and constantly demand new content, more space may open up for newcomers.
Until then, you can give your hate and calls for boycotting Kareena Kapoor's next film some rest and decide wisely before you pick the next film you watch. And don't let your personal grudges hamper the performance of a film which is the product of several people's hard work, all of whom are depending on its success and earning a living from it, not just the one you hate.