The Facebook post on this topic that went viral – https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=3728906957124560&id=465920143423274.

The more detailed video on this topic is here:

The shorter text post is here (also on https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=3728906957124560&id=465920143423274):

My name is Ashish Lal, someone similar in many ways to #SushantSinghRajput. I want to share my experience of discrimination and nepotism in this highly unorganized film industry. Please SHARE and FORWARD this and raise your voice against this ugly form of discrimination in the field of art called NEPOTISM.

No, I’m not Sushant who was so talented that he made it big within a few years, while I’m still struggling for the last 10 years even after doing good roles. However, we’ve several similarities and that’s why his suicide is all the more painful. It literally makes me feel that I could have been there or I could be there may be a few years from now.

1. Sushant got into an engineering college in Delhi (DCE). I too got into an engineering college in Delhi (IIT).

2. Sushant came from a middle class family and his father is an ex-government officer. He was the youngest and had 4 elder sisters. I come from a middle class family and my father is an ex-government officer. I’m the youngest and have 3 elder sisters.

3. Sushant hailed originally from Bihar (Patna). I too am originally from Bihar (hometown Darbhanga, Bihar; brought up: Dhanbad, Jharkhand).

4. Sushant did not pursue his career in engineering and went on to struggle to become an actor. I did the same.

5. Sushant did lead role in TV series “Pavitra Rishta” with Ankita Lokhande, Rithvik Dhanjani among others. I too did lead role in TV series (limited though) “Chalo Saaf Karein” with Rashami Desai, Aruna Irani, Raghubir Yadav among others.

6. Sushant had been under depression for over 6 months. I too have been under depression for almost 3 years. Sadly he succumbed to it, but I could come out of it. I, in fact, made a web series on YouTube “Let’s Walk from Stress to Bliss” to enumerate step by step methods to end stress, depression and suicides. Mental health is something I feel for strongly.

Nepotism might just be a word for you that infuses anger, and rightly so. However, it’s a reality for me, and lakhs and lakhs of people like me or Sushant.

I passed out from IIT Delhi in 2005. I had to, without any interest at all, slog for 4 long years in the corporate world because I had no continuous financial support being from a middle class family. No, I don’t blame anyone for that, but I do blame people for nepotism. I thought I’ll save money and then with hard work and honing my skills, finally be successful in Bollywood in a couple of years or so. I thought these are the only requirements for success in any field and being from a highly educated middle class family, I’m sure anyone thinks the same. I did not know I was in for a rude shock.

Three of us crowdfunded from about 70 people, took bank loans (multiple loans) to make a film. It was a pain just to find someone to release the film. Finally, we took another set of loan to release the movie ourselves. It hardly found few theaters across the country. When a below average star kid stars in a bad movie, top daily newspapers are respectable to them and top award functions give them best debut awards. The nepotism gang has its web in the media as well. In our case, top newspapers, instead of patting our back for at least trying to make a breakthrough on our own at such a huge risk, published that we should leave the industry, that IIT should take action on us (we had mentioned only on the poster that it was made by IITians – director, producers and lead actor were IITians) and one even wrote that we were lying to gain sympathy that we were middle class because no middle class can crowdfund so much money to make a film. Yes, we were probably the first to do that that at least deserved appreciation for the courage and intention. I don’t know whether you realize or not, but these reviews/articles were shocking for us because we were simple educated straight thinking people who thought everything works here in an organized manner by the rulebook like in most parts of the corporate world and we were sure that journalists write anything only after verifying. Had we been star kids, no top newspaper would have written off us as liars, let alone writing that action should be taken against us.

This was way back in 2011. After that I moved from Delhi to Mumbai and the struggle just didn’t/doesn’t seem to end even after doing some really good projects. Nepotism is a reality for people like me. Nobody picks you up. When one project of yours fails, you’re finished. Whereas, when one project of a star kid fails, he gets 4 more to compensate for it. People with 5-6 back to back flops also get another chance in big films, while we outsiders after one chance, that we create ourselves mostly, do not get another chance. Even if a project is fairly successful, you might be at most tested once and that too in a very small budget film. On the contrary, star kids are given launches in big budget movies.

After 9 years (yes, it takes that long to come out of a financial debacle and stand again for your next film), I wrote a commercial Bollywood script for 2 years, locked it and over 40 industry people loved the script for its unique and entertaining screenplay. It has 2 lead roles, one that would played by me and another by someone else. However, when we met relevant established people for making the film, we get one answer – script is amazing but get a star and then we’ll come in; and most also suggests me to give-up my role to someone else, a new star kid or another star. When you contact a star for one of the 2 lead roles, they say get a big studio and then we’ll get in. Yes, there are exceptions but mostly that’s the case – we’re still waiting for those exceptions to agree. Catch 22, chicken and egg. Investors will put money on an average new star kid but not on someone like me with a decade long experience. I’ve a brilliant director (outsider) Ashutosh Matela, but that doesn’t count, because in Bollywood surnames matter more than talent. You can’t crowdfund again because the burden of loan breaks a middle class person’s backbone. Where do you go? You just want a decently fair opportunity, but fair play is rare here. Nepotism is normalised here. Even educated people outside and inside the industry say that nepotism ‘chalta hai’. Then they’ll give examples of 3-4 actors who made it on their own and do victim-shaming that you must be lacking that’s why you didn’t get there. Victim shaming, seriously?

In 2013, when I saw Sushant Singh Rajput become a big name in Bollywood with Kai Po Che, it was so inspiring. He was not just living a dream, he was a dream for so many – if he can do it, I can do it – was the mantra for all us middle class outsiders. I still see many super talented middle class actors struggling to make ends meet on one side and struggling to find and give audition after audition, hundreds and hundreds of them. I’ve myself been through that. Sushant was a ray of hope for strugglers like me. His positivity was infectious. I thought he’s over that struggling phase where he had to fight nepotism and discrimination. Sadly, I was wrong. He faced nepotism’s blow even at that level so much so that he struggled for months in therapy to finally succumb to its pressures.

I’m not here to say that all nepotism products are substandard or all outsiders are talented. I’m sensible enough to understand that there are talented people on both the sides. However, shouldn’t opportunities be the same for both and then based on meritocracy and not nepotism cast and crew should be chosen? Is this ganging up against outsiders, even the successful ones such as Sushant, and pushing them over the edge normal? This is a wake-up call for all of us.

Do you think nepotism should be normalized? Don’t you think this kind of discrimination deserves criticism as much as any other form of discrimination? If yes, spread awareness against nepotism. If suicide of such a genuine, simple, self made man can’t bring that thrust in you to shout against nepotism, nothing else ever will. Please share and forward to as many as possible. #SupportMerit #FightNepotism #RIPSushant

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