A lot has been said of late about Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter, Suhana’s appearance, on the cover of Vogue – “Yet another privileged star-kid gets things handed to them on a platter”; “Nepotism strikes again in Bollywood”; “What has she done to earn this”; “What about the thousands of hardworking talents out there who deserve this more”; “Why did SRK, who’s a self-made star and inspiration for millions of strugglers with Bollywood dreams, allow this” – you get the gist.
However, did you bother to ask yourself why you’re getting so worked up about this? For starters, most of the angst is coming from rank outsiders whose lives are least affected by whoever appears on magazine covers or the big screen. The next argument that pops up once this is pointed out is that it’s imperative for everyone to raise their voice against injustice. What injustice? Does Suhana not have a right to prove herself just because she’s SRK’s kid? Of course neither she, nor her family, and certainly us who’re supporting her decision (and who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about nepotism), aren’t delusional to think that she didn’t get that cover and will perhaps get many more such wonderful opportunities in future because of her lineage. But did you care once to stop and think if she has prepared sufficiently for the initial push that her entitlement affords or did you even bother to do some research about what she has done so far in life besides checking her Instagram photos?
If you had, then you’d know that Suhana is already a hotly discussed name on the theater circuit, having done some noteworthy plays both in India and abroad. No doubt, she has bagged these plays because of her superstar father, but would theater Directors keep casting her is she had no talent, or would theater actors (who take pride in being better at their craft that many filmstars) continue to work with her if she would have been spoiling their scenes and dialogue delivery? Shah Rukh, being an accomplished theater actor himself before landing in Mumbai (then Bombay) to pursue his tinsel-town dreams, wanted his daughter to go through the grind, prove her mettle, and gain invaluable experience and confidence once she displayed an interest in acting, and he knew that no platform offers this better than theater.
Those who’ve worked with her and have seen her plays can’t stop gushing about how she’s a born actress, blessed with ample natural talent, and how she takes after her father in her ability to connect with an audience. No less than Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Sujoy Ghosh have sent feelers to cast her after watching her stage performances, and none other than Shaban Azmi, one of India’s most-revered film and stage actresses, has praised Suhana’s acting talent. Even if you were to argue that SLB is once again clamoring to launch a star kid, Sujoy, who has made small-budget gems like Kahaani, has never been enamored by the star-system, and Azmi is the last person to praise someone who doesn’t merit it.
Being from extremely humble beginnings himself, SRK has tried his best to ensure that Suhana goes through the yards before making her film debut, and no matter how much of privilege and entitlement has landed his baby girl in the cream of theater or fast-tracked her to the big screen, the fact remains that just because she is SRK’s daughter, it doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be given or even handed the right to prove herself.
All those gunning for the 18-year old kid’s neck, need to calm down and think how they, too, would have jumped at the same opportunity if they had a rich, world-renowned daddy. More importantly, they need to start looking at the ugly and far more damning side of nepotism in other industries like the corporate sector, banking, and even the medical field because, regardless whichever side of the fence you fall on, the irrefutable truth is that cinema and sports are the only two occupations in the world where nepotism may get you a foot in, but it can never help you rise.