Do you need a hot body or a degree to do well in Bollywood?

is a business degree worth it?
In Bollywood, it's all about who you know not what you know. Source: Sujit Jaiswal/AFP

Is a business degree worth it? 

The answer is yes — but not in Bollywood. Here, it’s all about who you know rather than what you know. 

A portmanteau of “Hollywood” and “Bombay” (formerly Mumbai), Bollywood refers to the Hindi-language sector of India’s movie-making industry. 

With 1,500 to 2,000 movies released annually across 20 languages, the Indian film industry is the largest film industry in the world. 

Known for their colourful sarees, elaborate song-and-dance sequences as well as striking set designs, Bollywood is the most significant sector of India’s film industry, accounting for a third of movie tickets sold in India in 2020 and 44% of net box office revenue.

Is a business degree worth it in Bollywood? 

is a business degree worth it

Actor Kay Kay Menon has an MBA from the Department of Management Science at the University of Pune. Source: Sujit Jaiswal/AFP

It’s common to hear most celebrities drop out of college or skip uni once they have their big break in the entertainment industry.

Many successful Bollywood actors, directors, and producers do not have formal education or degrees in their respective fields. 

Take Priyanka Chopra Jonas, for example. While she dreamt of becoming a criminal psychologist, modelling assignments and movie offers led her to drop out of college

Today, the Bollywood actress has an estimated net worth of $70 million dollars alongside her husband, Nick Jonas, according to Marca

What does this show? Factors such as talent, hard work, networking and luck can determine your success in Bollywood.

 There are, however, those with advanced degrees to their names, proving that they’re more than just a pretty face.

It goes to show that some of the world’s most gifted on-screen talents are interested in networking and would be able to secure themselves a lucrative day job if all fails. 

Here are some Bollywood stars who have done an MBA: 

  • John Abraham 
  • Fardeen Khan
  • Siddharth
  • Mallika Sarabhai
  • Kay Kay Menon

No “Godfather”, no success

is a business degree worth it?

Sushant Singh Rajput is a self-made actor who had to work his way up in the Bollywood scene. Source: Sujit Jaiswal/AFP

Over the last three years, nepotism has led the forefront of conversations in Bollywood. 

The conversation about star kids and their many advantages to getting ahead in their careers has sparked controversy among actors who are seen as “outsiders” (children of non-acting families) in the film industry. 

You’ll be surprised that even big names like Shah Rukh Khan, John Abrahams and Priyanka Chopra weren’t born into such circumstances. 

They were self-made and had to work their way up to be recognised, let alone get through auditions. 

The question of nepotism comes after the alleged suicide case of actor Sushant Singh Rajput who, in his words, had no “Godfather”, meaning he had to work doubly hard to be on the big screen. 

News of Rajut’s death prompted a social media storm, where netizens attributed his mental health problems to Bollywood’s nepotism — the “founding families of Bollywood”. 

These families have birthed legendary actors, producers, and directors to the audience. Actors like Rishi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan, and Saif Ali Khan are all part of prominent Bollywood families

“Many people don’t know that Bollywood is also almost as old as Hollywood,” the founder of South-Asian publication The Juggernaut, Snigdha Sur, told Thred Media

But why did nepotism become a hot topic overnight?  

A funeral to meritocracy: Is a business degree worth it?

Early last year, a Twitter user uncovered the parents of the actress who played the character Lexie (Maude Apatow, daughter to director Judd Apatow and actress Leslie Mann) in the HBO series “Euphoria”. 

This simple discovery was enough to spark conversations about nepotism in Hollywood.

Since then, many movie buffs have questioned how many of their favourite celebrities are a product of their nepotism. 

In December 2022, the latest issue of the New York Magazine wrote an essay exposing the “nepo baby” (short for nepotism baby) phenomenon in Hollywood. 

New York’s Nate Jones simply says, “A nepo baby is physical proof that meritocracy is a lie.” 

Again, it begs the question: Is a business degree worth it?

In an interview with TRS Clips, Bollywood actor John Abraham answers these questions regarding how his MBA has helped him in his acting career.

“Yes, [my MBA] helped me because it helped me choose from right and wrong. It gives me the power to make an educated choice. I was honestly unhappy with the films that I was doing which is why I became a producer,” shares the MBA holder.

“I became a producer because the MBA in me said I can manage this process, I can become a producer and make the content I believe in. That’s self-conviction.”

To revisit the question of: “Is a business degree worth it?” in Abraham’s case, it helped him make certain choices about his career. 

To say that the degree, however, was the factor that propelled him to stardom is far from the truth.