MUMBAI Film-maker Karan Johar has a loyal fan following that eagerly awaits Bollywood movies that bear his stamp -- elaborate music, costumes and style.
But Johar says if it weren't for his family connections in the film business, he might have given up on his Bollywood dreams.
The director of hits such as "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" and "My Name Is Khan" was speaking at a panel discussion on Tuesday, part of the FICCI Frames industry conference.
Johar, 40, shared his experiences with film-makers Gauri Shinde, Sujoy Gupta, Kabir Khan and actor Amit Sadh -- all "outsiders" who have found success in a movie industry often dubbed insular and nepotistic.
"I am the brand ambassador of nepotism," Johar said to much laughter in the audience. "I see what people go through to get into the industry and I know I could have never done that."
"That is why I am launching as many new directors at Dharma Productions. I want to give back to the industry," he said.
Johar's father, Yash Johar was a noted producer, known for films such as "Agneepath" and "Dostana".
Most panellists said it was difficult for newcomers to get noticed in Bollywood.
"No one is going to give it to you on a plate," said Sujoy Ghosh, director of the unexpected 2012 hit "Kahaani".
"You have to go through all the trouble and you have to struggle if you want to make it. There is no other way," he said.
(Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Tony Tharakan)