The International Indian Film Academy, IIFA in short, likes to promote itself as the ‘Academy awards’ of India, a laughable comparison at the best. The award ceremonies are always held abroad at some exotic location, to pander to Bollywood-crazy expats living there. Despite the label of ‘academy’ it is silly, slapstick bollywood banter that usually prevails. But this year they descended too low.
Three respected figures of the Indian film industry, all offspring of famous film personalities, brought alive again a controversy that has been simmering under the surface for some time. Nepotism. St the cross fire was an actress who was brave enough to call a spade a spade. Kangana Ranaut. They also proclaimed loudly from the stage “Nepotism Rocks!”
After saying this, Varun and Saif began singing “bole choodiyan, bole Kangana…” at which Karan interrupted to say that “achcha hoga agar Kangana na bole.”
The next day they were hit by a hailstorm, actually a tsunami, of criticism and scorn on social media.
It was only after this that the trio has tendered apologies. Not with too much grace though.
Varun tweeted,”I express my apology and regret .. I am extremely sorry if I have offended or hurt anyone with that act..”
Following that, Saif Ali Khan and Karan Johar also tendered their apologies. In a statement on Firstpost, Saif admitted to IIFA not being his best hosting gig, saying that he had performed better in the past. Commenting on the debacle at the event he said, “We tried to make the most of a poor script but I do realise that some of the jokes were unfunny.”
He went on to explain how “disturbed” he was after the show, and how he and Karan could have done a much better job at hosting it. Considering Saif’s flair for wit and charm, one would have really expected him to steer away from personal attacks towards fellow co-stars, don’t you think?
Saif went on to clear the air, expressing his admiration for Kangana and her achievements. He said, “To me at IIFA it was just a joke and nothing more to be read into. But now I feel had we given it more thought, we could’ve really finished this ongoing public discourse on nepotism more decisively.”
The lengthiest apology came from Karan though. Speaking on NDTV, Karan said” of course, I believe that only talent rocks. If anything that rocks, it’s your talent, hard work and conviction. It’s the energy you bring to your job. What we said was meant to be a joke, which I think has been misplaced, misunderstood and I think it went wrong. I regret it.”
He went on to add “No matter what I say or feel about my issues with what Kangana said on my talk show Koffee With Karan, I think I was raised to be a dignified, a chivalrous, and a decent person. That’s the upbringing that I was given and I feel that I failed on those accounts. I felt that no matter what my thoughts or personal issues on this, I should not have repeatedly brought that up. For that, I’m deeply regretful.”
The scathing reactions to the IIFA set piece, were more because the ‘jokes’ were made in Kangana’s absence – the Queen actress was not at the IIFA weekend and rarely attends award ceremonies. Karan Johar said that the joke may have been in poor taste but the intention was not to hurt. “It was something that we said in humour, it may be terrible humour, bad humour, misplaced humour, but our intention was not to hurt anyone. That very core is what failed. Then I got carried away in the moment and I regret that,” he said.
After Kangana had called Karan “the kingpin of nepotism” on Koffee with Karan, on which she appeared with Saif Ali, by the way, Karan had pretended to take it sportingly but later burst out against Kangana in London in a show with Barkha Datt.
Not content with that, many months later, he again thought fit to take a dig at Kangana in New York.
The allegation of nepotism must have stung because Karan knows only too well that if he had not been Yash Johar’s son there is no way he would have been able to rope in both SRK and Salman Khan for his debut film.’