'It's not about where you come from and which family you belong to.'
' It's about what sort of talent you bring to the table.'
Sudhir Mishra is deeply saddened by the nepotism debate which has overtaken Sushant Singh Rajput's death.
"I have met Sushant socially," he tells Subhash K Jha.
"He was shy, always smiling, filled with ideas. I wish we worked together. Like him, I am an outsider," says Sudhir.
"I gave up my option of studying psychology and practise clinical psychology in favour of being a film-maker. I haven't regretted my decision even once in the last 35 years," he adds.
"Mumbai welcomes talent from anywhere, be it Patna or Bhopal. It's not about where you come from and which family you belong to. It's about what sort of talent you bring to the table."
Sudhir cites Sushant's example of success from the outside.
"Sushant himself is an example of an outsider making it big. I've worked with an industry girl like Kareena Kapoor in Chameli. She is an amazing actor," says Sudhir.
"And I've just completed a Web series with Nawazuddin Siddiqui who is another fine example of an outsider getting his dues in Bollywood," he adds.
"Then there is someone phenomenal like Rishi Kapoor whom I nearly worked with a few years ago. The film didn't get made. But his dedication, his drive and spirit were inspiring."
As a struggler in the Mumbai film industry, Sudhir Mishra remembers hanging out in Bandra, northwest Mumbai, with other strugglers.
"There were dreamers and strugglers from Bihar and UP. Every time a big car would pass and splash dirty water on us, one of the migrants would mutter expletives about 'Bade baap ka beta.' I would remind him that one day the <'em>beta' could be his and the 'bada baap' could be him. Anything can happen in this city.
"Mumbai welcomes and respects talent, no matter where it comes from. To accuse the city and Bollywood of favouring a privileged few is wrong.
"Would you say Raj Kapoor was an undeserving success because he came from a film family? Whether it was Raj or Rishi or Kareena or Ranbir, they had the talent and they worked hard to earn their success."
Sudhir feels Bollywood as a concept must now disappear.
"We can make films anywhere, why just Mumbai? You have been writing about Hindi cinema from Patna for 40 years. We don't have to look at Mumbai as the epicentre of Hindi cinema."