Deccan Chronicle

Bollywood Sisterhood: All Talk and Little Action

Deccan Chronicle.| AJULI TULSYAN

Published on: November 9, 2023 | Updated on: November 9, 2023

However, though not vocal about it, the male stars quietly have each other's backs

Priyanka Chopra. (Image: DC)

Priyanka Chopra. (Image: DC)

It’s intriguing how in Bollywood, the concept of sisterhood is often a mere facade. Actresses frequently pledge mutual support, yet solidarity among them is conspicuously lacking. Sanya Malhotra once spoke about the industry’s sisterhood in an interview: "Fatima (Sana Shaikh, her co-star in Dangal) and Radhika (Madan, her co-star in Pataakha) are two remarkable women with individuality. I wholeheartedly vouch for them."

Kiara Advani said, "There is nothing better than women supporting women. It uplifts one’s morale. We understand each other because we go through similar experiences. And if we don’t root for each other, who will?"

But talk like this is mostly only lip service!

Kangana Ranaut, despite her acting prowess, faced a string of box office disappointments without the support and encouragement she expected from her peers. She found herself alone when she raised her voice on various contentious issues. One notable example was her comment on nepotism, which drew sharp criticism from the influential Karan Johar camp. Her public feud with Hrithik Roshan was also fought singlehandedly. In 2020 Kangana had to endure the ire of the Maharashtra  government when her Bandra property was reduced to ruins. Despite being vocal about the issue, she found herself fighting the battle alone while being subjected to a barrage of hate tweets and messages.

While the correctness or otherwise of her stance on various issues can be debated, it is undeniable that she lacked the support of her contemporaries. Kangana has openly admitted on multiple occasions that she has no friends within the industry. She was often labelled as someone with an ‘unstable mind’

When Taapsee Pannu had a falling out with the producers of one of her films, she silently distanced herself, opting not to speak publicly about the issue. She understood that taking a stand might lead nowhere, given the lack of support from the industry.

Priyanka Chopra faced a challenging phase in India due to pressure from a superstar camp, which ultimately drove her to seek success abroad. The powerful figures in the industry united against her, offering little support.

On shows like Koffee with Karan, actresses often respond with laughter instead of support when mean references are made about some of their female colleagues.

Bro camaraderie

On the other hand, in the  ‘Bollywood brotherhood’, actions speak louder than words — the male actors have each other’s backs. For instance, when Suraj Pancholi faced a rough patch, Salman Khan stood by him like an elder brother. Bobby Deol shared a heartwarming story on Koffee with Karan Season 8, about Salman. (The two affectionately call each other Mamu). "One day Salman [Khan] told me, Dekh jab mera career thik nahi chal raha tha, main tere bhai ke peeth pad chad gaya tha, main aage badha, main Sanjay Dutt ke peeth par chad gaya, main aage badha," said Bobby. "I told him, "Mamu, let me climb on your back," and Salman remembered this. A couple of years later, I received a call from him, and he asked, "Mamu, will you take your shirt off?" I replied, "Sure, Mamu, I will do anything." That’s how I got the role in Race."

Vivek Oberoi, too, acknowledged the support he received from senior actors, saying, "I’ve been fortunate to have got a lot of support and guidance from seniors and friends in difficult times. When I began my career, Shah Rukh Khan and Ajay Devgn were incredibly supportive and graceful. While shooting Saathiya, I was supposed to threaten SRK, who I had met for the first time. He invited me to his van and cracked jokes to make me comfortable, and shooting such an intense scene became a breeze. He has always been there for me when I’ve needed guidance or counsel. It’s been a sweet blend of fandom and friendship. Ajay has been an elder brother figure from the first day of shooting my debut film Company. I think he is one of the most secure and giving actors. During a difficult time in my personal life, he helped me cope emotionally and mentally."

 Fardeen Khan is set to make a comeback to films with a horror drama Visfot. Sources suggest that the movie’s producer, Sanjay Gupta  played a pivotal role in bringing Fardeen back into action after an 11-year hiatus.

This quiet brotherhood, offering help and support during tough times, works behind the scenes.  

Are the divas of Bollywood listening?

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