Urmila Matondkar, whose journey in films began as a child artiste, said that she has never denied the existence of nepotism. She said that she was a victim of it in the beginning of her career as a lead star and was ‘written off like no other actor in the history of cinema’.
In 1991, when Urmila made her debut in a leading role with Narasimha, many other new female faces were launched. According to her, an overwhelming majority of these were star kids. She said that despite making a ‘decent name’ for herself with her first film, she struggled a lot.
Talking to journalist Barkha Dutt, Urmila said, “This word called ‘nepotism’, if I start talking about it, I will have to talk for quite a few hours. The amount of it that I have faced, in spite of being from Mumbai, was quite alarming, to say the least. There was some 16-17 new girls who were introduced that year and out of them, some eight or nine of them were somebody or the other’s daughters. I will tell you a few of them – Raveena Tandon, Karisma Kapoor, Pooja Bhatt, Kajol, lots of them.”
“After my first film, I made a decent name for myself as a good dancer and a decent actor, and yet, I struggled tremendously. By the time I was doing Rangeela, I was written off like no other actor in the history of cinema. ‘She makes faces’, ‘her language’…everything,” she added.
Urmila said that even when Rangeela became a success in 1995, she was never given any credit for it. She said that everything else about the film was discussed, but not her. However, she chose to take it in her stride and focus on the positives of the film industry.
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According to Urmila, she was discriminated against more by the media of the time, than people in the film fraternity. She said that the film magazines back then had immense power, as there was no social media. She added that she was judged by a different yardstick than star kids. She also talked about not even getting nominated for her performances at awards shows.
Urmila has been making headlines after Kangana Ranaut described her as a ‘soft porn star’ who is ‘not known for her acting, for sure.’ The comments were met with much criticism online, from Bollywood celebrities as well as fans.
However, Kangana stood by her comments and questioned why ‘porn star’ is considered a disparaging term if Bollywood welcomed former adult star Sunny Leone. “Liberal brigade once virtually lynched a renowned writer in to silence for saying people like Sunny Leone should not be our role models, Sunny is accepted by the industry and entire India as an artist, suddenly fake feminists equating being a porn star to something derogatory,” she tweeted.
Several members of the film fraternity, including Ram Gopal Varma, Swara Bhasker, Pooja Bhatt and Anubhav Sinha stood up for Urmila and praised her talent.
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