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MAMI 2017: Alia Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor, Karan Johar stick to 'nepotism' debate

The buzzword of 'nepotism' and the antics of their fathers were among the key subjects covered by Karan Johar in his conversation with artistes Kapoor and Bhatt.

Alia Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor. Photos: Shutterbugs Images

Shriram Iyengar

In one of the more popular sessions of the Movie Mela held in the run-up to the 19th MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Karan Johar came together for a conversation on the topic of the season, 'nepotism'. While Johar maintained his quick wit and humour, it was a session that saw the trio tackle some queasy topics, including failure and their fathers.

Both Kapoor and Bhatt agreed to being products of nepotism. Kapoor said, "I am a product of nepotism. I don’t shy away from it. I know I have had better opportunities many don’t get, but I am just taking advantage to better my craft. I have earned my position not by taking somebody else’s position but by making my own."

He added, "My father [veteran actor Rishi Kapoor] also said politicians and actors are chosen by the public. You may get your first film or campaign, but the public has to like you [for you] to grow." 

Bhatt, for her part, said, "I am aware that the connection with my family has made it way easier, but I also have to not feel apologetic about it. Yes, nepotism exists in this industry and many other industries. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t know. But I know that I worked very hard to be where I am today and I don’t need to feel apologetic about being my father’s [filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt's] daughter."

The duo could not veer away from talk about their fathers. As Johar prodded Kapoor on his father Rishi's Twitter antics, the actor replied, "My father is very vocal about his opinions and likes to share them. I’m not ashamed of his ability to voice his opinions." 

It was Bhatt who showed some of the despair of every young girl by saying, "It’s exhausting to sit in front of my father. He’s fabulous, but he’s too fabulous."

The crowd's laughs were reserved for Bhatt's disclosure of her father's long-winding quotes in SMS form. To which Johar quipped, "It must be nice living with a quote thesaurus."

The two artistes also spoke of maintaining a balance between being stars and artistes. Kapoor said, "To be a star in a country like India you really need to give and open yourself to the public... you can’t choose to be a star. Opportunities, timing, luck and everything comes together. There is no formula to become a star." 

With the conversation veering to their film choices, it was inevitable that Kapoor's latest box-office failure Jagga Jasoos would come up. Elaborating on his experience with failure, the actor admitted, "Failure is [expletive deleted] hard."

Bhatt, on the other hand, admitted that there is a disparity between commercial films which succeed and 'art' films which are done for the artistes'  satisfaction. She said, "Art films don’t reach out to [a] large [number of] people. Large audience films are like a Badrinath Ki Dulhania or a Judwaa 2. So you need to strike the balance where you reach out to larger audience and you also do those films for yourself like I did with Udta Punjab (2016) or Highway (2015)." 

The duo then flipped the tables on Johar when they asked if he was envious of Sanjay Leela Bhansali for making Padmavati. Gamely, Johar replied, "I am envious. I think he is one of the most visually brilliant directors in the industry today."

With some final questions from the audience revolving around Johar's book and a request for a hug from Bhatt, the trio brought the 19th MAMI Movie Mela to an end. 

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