Avinash Tiwary, Sayani Gupta

Avinash Tiwary and Sayani Gupta say vilification of Bollywood has made it tougher for outsiders.



Actors Sayani Gupta and Avinash Tiwary believe the criticism the film industry has received in the last few months has made it more difficult for aspiring artistes to convince their families to let them pursue a career in movies.

The industry has been under a cloud since actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death in June, with accusations regarding Bollywood’s ill-treatment of outsiders and its apparent rampant drug culture as well as social media conspiracy theories regarding the industry’s functioning.

At a panel discussion at the ongoing India Film Project on Saturday, Gupta and Tiwary opened up about how they navigated parental disapproval to become actors, which could be tougher for newcomers today due to the current perception about showbiz world.

Tiwary, who garnered acclaim with the 2018 “Laila Majnu”, said people have always looked at Bollywood with a suspicious lens.

“I come from Bihar, from a conventional family. Even now, the perception of the Hindi film industry isn’t great. It was not that people didn’t know that these things happen, everyone thought this is what Bollywood is.

“I wouldn’t deny that somewhere I also was aware of the fact that it’s probably not the ideal space for someone who comes from Bihar, whose parents want to see him as an IAS officer…,” he said.

The actor said with time, his family started supporting his aspirations but the recent negative wave in the industry has only reinforced a manufactured, manipulated image of the industry.

“It’s hurtful, you start taking it personally because you know it has got nothing to do with any of this. It’s like, even after all these years you only get to hear this place isn’t right, isn’t good while you are living your life, doing what you can, creating your own space, big, small or limited,” he added.

Gupta, most recently seen on the Amazon Prime Video series “Four More Shots”, said what has happened in the last few months was “unfortunate.”

The actor said the current generation had to fight back and work “unbelievably” hard to prove to their parents that one can have a dignified life and a “proper career” even as an artiste.

“But the last few months have made it even more difficult for kids to come from a middle class background, work in Mumbai and have a respectable space for themselves in terms of the family things.”

Actor and casting director Abhishek Banerjee, who was joined by Gupta, Tiwary and “Scam 1992” star Shreya Dhanwanthary at the panel discussion, noted that many young artistes have already left Mumbai for good.

“So many youngsters have practically left Mumbai after this entire thing and won’t be coming back now. Their parents have completely grounded them, which is sad,” he added.

Earlier this month, major Bollywood producers, including the three Khans—Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir—Karan Johar and Akshay Kumar approached the Delhi High Court against two TV channels and their editors for allegedly defaming the industry with terms such as ‘scum’ and ‘druggies.’

The lawsuit, by four industry associations and 34 producers, sought the court’s direction to Republic TV, its editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and reporter Pradeep Bhandari, Times Now, its editor-in-chief Rahul Shivshankar and group editor Navika Kumar and unknown defendants as well as social media platforms to refrain from making or publishing allegedly irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks against Bollywood.

It also sought to restrain them from interfering with the right to privacy of persons associated with the Hindi film industry. 

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