Want To Know What Taking Privilege Supremely For Granted Looks Like?

Being born into privilege is not crime; it is not even something that one has control over. What is unfortunate is the lack of self-awareness in those with privilege.

A short video of Sonam Kapoor chatting with Rajkummar Rao went viral recently. It is a clip from an old video, but given how conversations around nepotism and privilege are always hot button topics on social media, the video seems to have gained a new life.

When people with privilege deny that privilege; and worse claim to face the same hardships as others, it can be hard to swallow.

A lack of self-awareness on the one hand; remarkable restraint on the other

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Sonam Kapoor is a true blue star-kid; she can be classified as what today is known pejoratively as a ‘nepo-kid’. In this video, she is seen speaking with Rajkummar Rao about being the son/daughter of a film star and whether it helps.

Do you think it helps, she asks?

For his part Rao says with great understatement I think it does; demonstrating remarkable restraint I feel. In his place I would have asked, how is this even a question?!

Invisible privilege

As this tweet quoting Peggy Macintosh points out, privilege is often invisible, particularly to the privileged person. In fact, being unaware of one’s privilege is itself a privilege. That privilege manifests in many different ways: contacts, social networks, access, resources and much more. Privilege gets people into doors that remain shut to others.

The ‘struggle’

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Kapoor’s superstar father had the resources to give her an expensive education in her chosen field. He also had the kind of contacts that gave her access to people and places others couldn’t even dream of.   Kapoor reels off a list of top filmmakers of the industry that her dad knows and is on first name terms with, who watched her grow up.

So apparently her ‘struggle’ is that her dad didn’t know her preferred director well enough. She says she ‘auditioned her ass off’, supremely oblivious to the fact that just getting those auditions itself was a vast privilege.

Further, being a star-kid gives actors repeated chances even when they turn out dud films that don’t work. Case in point: people like Bobby Deol, Abhishek Bachchan and many others. People like Kapoor, Deol and Bachchan may have talent, but where a flop film would cause doors to slam shut in other faces, those doors remain open for them.

Remember this?

It is a little like when poor little rich girl Ananya Pandey spoke about her ‘struggle’ offering as an illustration the fact that her dad was not invited on Koffee with Karan. Her ‘struggle’ consisted of having a father who isn’t a legit A-lister.

Similarly, star-kid Sara Ali Khan gets to ‘prank’ a spot girl by shoving her into a pool without consequence. Janhavi Kapoor gets to ‘playfully’ slap colleague Varun Sharma in an interview without too many eyebrows being raised.

This statement from Alia Bhatt is similarly oblivious

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This interview is from 2017 and I would like to believe that Alia Bhat has gained a lot of self-awareness since then. However, at the time she displayed a staggering lack of it, claiming to want to punch all those people who say that star kids have it easy. With the same easy obliviousness, she speaks about being her father’s daughter and having the option to call Karan Johar whenever required.

Again, her assertion that people from non-film backgrounds become ‘part of this family’ smacks of that same lack of awareness of how the film industry is hostile to outsiders; how it closes ranks in favour of its own.

This is also privilege

The film RRR is currently riding high on the Oscar it won for best original song. It struck me that the two fabulous dancers on the Oscar stage are not the original actors N. T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan. Both men are the sons of superstars, and it was a major coup for S S Rajamouli to get both on board for the film. Now while I have no doubt that the two actors are great dancers, I wonder why they didn’t perform on stage live at the Oscars.

During the shooting of the song they would have had many chances /retakes to get their moves perfect. That isn’t possible in a life performance. The fact that Billy Mustapha and Jason Glover did the actual dance live on stage saved the two original stars from the possible risk of making a mistake with some tremendously challenging choreography. To my mind, this is a part of that privilege: the massive clout that comes from being a star-kid that everyone wants to promote and protect.

Being born into privilege is not crime; it is not even something that one has control over. What is unfortunate is the lack of self-awareness in those with privilege. When a person with privilege denies that privilege or tries to justify their own success as being the result only of ‘hard-work’ or ‘talent’ – that isn’t just lack of self-awareness that is actually self-delusion.

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About the Author

Reena Daruwalla

A former lawyer, now freelance writer, fauji wife, mother, singer, knitter and lover of my own cooking, I have altogether too many opinions and too few convictions. The more I learn the more I am read more...

38 Posts | 27,269 Views

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