Equal Work, Unequal Pay? The Bolly wood Way!

Stardust (English) - - MUSIC ROOM -

From Meena Ku­mari to Mad­huri Dixit, Aish­warya Rai to Alia Bhatt, Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe to Meryl Streep, both Bollywood and Hol­ly­wood have idol­ized iconic ac­tresses for aeons. They have proudly la­dled out awards, but when it comes to their pay­checks, they ap­pear to love these women a lit­tle and in most cases, a lot less than their male coun­ter­parts. In­deed, in the world of starry show­biz not ev­ery­thing is sugar-coated with glitz ‘n’ glam. Read on as Khush­boo Ti­wari puts to­gether bits and pieces about the dis­par­i­ties of pay­checks in Bollywood as well as Hol­ly­wood.

Once Shah Rukh Khan re­port­edly made a poignant re­sponse when asked if he’d like Suhana to be­come an ac­tor. He said, “She can be an ac­tor if she has the pas­sion and guts to work five times harder than me and get paid 10 times less than I do, if times don’t change for women ac­tors.” In­deed, it is a proven fact that fe­male ac­tors are paid way lesser than the male he­roes. For in­stance, su­per­stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Sal­man Khan, Aamir Khan and Ak­shay Ku­mar charge anything be­tween ` 45-60 crores per film. Fe­male ac­tors, on an av­er­age earn ap­prox­i­mately only 13-15 per cent of what their male ac­tors do. Even young ac­tors like Sushant Singh Ra­jput, Ran­veer Singh and Ran­bir Kapoor are paid ap­prox­i­mately ` 2035 crores for a movie. Fe­male ac­tors, on the other hand, are usu­ally paid be­tween ` 4-8 crores and in some cases ` 10-11 crores if it’s some­body like Deepika, Priyanka or Kan­gana. Mak­ing even ac­tor and pro­ducer Anushka Sharma com­ment, “I don’t know why the pay gap ex­ists, but I think it’s be­cause it’s in our so­ci­ety. If there is an ac­tor at the same stature as me, who would be able to bring in only that much money to a movie, he would still be paid more than me be­cause he is a guy. No­body even thinks about it. It is just in­grained.”

Money Mal­func­tion?

Here’s a fact. Ran­bir Kapoor has as­sertively man­aged to woo the au­di­ence with his ex­cep­tion­ally great act­ing. How­ever, his ca­reer graph de­te­ri­o­rated with his film choices. While Bom­bay Vel­vet strug­gled to re­cover even the movie bud­get of ap­prox­i­mately ` 120 crore at the Box of­fice. Jagga Ja­soos had a loss of ap­prox­i­mately ` 60 crores. On the other hand, Deepika Padukone’s Piku per­formed re­mark­ably well, even en­ter­ing the ` 100 crore club. Kan­gana Ra­naut’s Tanu Weds Manu Re­turns too was a block­buster with a ` 250 crore world­wide col­lec­tion. So if ev­ery­one re­ally be­lieves that the ‘Box of­fice is the king’, think again… right now the money is with the Deepikas and the Kan­ganas of the in­dus­try. How­ever, in re­al­ity, it’s ab­so­lutely a dif­fer­ent ball game. Ac­tor Aditi Rao Hy­dari averred, “I don’t re­ally un­der­stand why we are paid less than the male ac­tors even when we put in equal ef­fort and the re­cent past has also shown that fe­male ac­tors can de­liver a hit film. We de­serve bet­ter pay, equal to what male ac­tors get.”

It’s un­fair to ask for an equal pay when you are not get­ting an equal open­ing col­lec­tion.” – Taapsee Pannu

Dis­may or Divine?

It is a fact that top male ac­tors in In­dia earn at least five times more than any top fe­male star. (And some­times even 10 times more as pointed out by Taapsee Pannu) De­spite such an ap­palling re­al­ity, movies like Find­ing Fanny, High­way, Mary Kom, Queen, Naam Sha­bana and MOM have proved that the au­di­ence don’t only come to watch the ‘he­roes’. Ac­tor turned di­rec­tor Pooja Bhatt strongly be­lieves in equal pay. She said, “It’s an old mind­set of a feu­dal sys­tem. There is a gen­eral per­cep­tion that women don’t sell films, a fact that is grad­u­ally chang­ing world­wide.” Hav­ing a sim­i­lar be­lief, the Na­tional award win­ner Kan­gana re­port­edly opined, “We don’t get paid even one third of what the male ac­tors get, just be­cause we are women!” How­ever, Taapsee Pannu firmly be­lieves, “How many wom­en­cen­tric movies do you ac­tu­ally come across in a year? Prob­a­bly one or two max­i­mum, right? So it’s un­fair to ask for an equal pay when you are not get­ting an equal open­ing col­lec­tion.” She added, “The day when the au­di­ence walk into the the­atres to see a fe­male pro­tag­o­nist film, and gives us the same amount of bumper open­ing of say ` 10 -15 crores, that day I will say we need to be paid equally.” Arjun Rampal, how­ever, opined, “It is a busi­ness. To­day a su­per­star can de­mand a cer­tain amount of money or take a share in the film as he has cre­ated a cer­tain level of cred­i­bil­ity that he can guar­an­tee a cer­tain amount of busi­ness. A fe­male ac­tor, if she can do the same, then she could be paid that. It re­ally de­pends on con­sis­tency be­cause if a su­per­star comes to me and says, ‘I charge ` 20 crores’ and the fe­male ac­tor says, ‘I want to take ` 20 crores too’ it won’t be fair if she can’t en­sure the same level of return of in­vest­ment. If she de­mands two crores but can she draw ` 100 crores, then it’s un­fair for her.” He also added, “There are a lot of fe­male ac­tors who have been ex­tremely good and solid, and they are paid a lot more than other male ac­tors in the in­dus­try. But com­pared to the su­per­star ac­tors, you’ve got to re­think if it re­ally is in­come dis­par­ity or is it not?” How­ever, Kalki re­torted, “The dif­fer­ence in male and fe­male ac­tors’ pay­checks is in­sane. You only get paid more than a man if you are Priyanka Cho­pra.” How­ever, Priyanka her­self claims that there’s a huge dis­par­ity be­tween the pay pack­ets of men and women not just in In­dia, but glob­ally. She al­legedly said, “To be taken se­ri­ously as women, it’ll be a bat­tle that lasts a long time. I ini­tially didn’t un­der­stand the dis­par­ity be­tween men and women so much. In my first few films, once I was told by my pro­ducer that girls are in­ter­change­able. Hero nahi change kar sakte, but agar aap ki

dates match nahi kar rahi ya aap ek cer­tain re­mu­ner­a­tion maang rahe ho, toh aap jao. Hum nayi

ladki launch kar denge.”

There are a lot of fe­male ac­tors who are paid a lot more than other male ac­tors... But com­pared to the su­per­star ac­tors, you’ve got to re­think if it re­ally is in­come dis­par­ity or is it not?” – Arjun Rampal

Ka­reena Kapoor Khan was one of the few fe­male ac­tors who first spoke up on the dis­par­ity. She said, “There’s a dif­fer­ence of sev­eral ze­roes in the pay­check I get vis-a-vis the Khans.” But the Neerja girl Sonam Kapoor is cer­tainly not on the same page as the ones in the favour of in­come equal­ity. She had re­port­edly said, “It’s math­e­mat­ics re­ally. There is some­thing called a mar­ket price in our in­dus­try. It does not make eco­nomic sense for the pro­ducer to give me the same price as the lead ac­tor of the same cat­e­gory. Say a Ran­bir Kapoor film will open to ` 10 crore on a Fri­day, but my films will open sig­nif­i­cantly low. So it’s im­por­tant for the pro­ducer to earn the money in­vested. It makes math­e­mat­i­cal sense.” Agree­ing to Sonam’s thought process, film­maker Vipul Shah al­legedly said, “A fee that any star com­mands is not de­cided by the pro­ducer, but by the star’s mar­ket value”. Ka­t­rina too re­port­edly added, “The re­mu­ner­a­tion for women hasn’t changed since I came here. There’s a huge dis­par­ity.” How­ever, there are also a few who claim that things have def­i­nitely changed for the bet­ter. Pro­ducer Vashu Bhag­nani how­ever, begged to dif­fer. He averred, “I know I paid Ka­reena in lakhs ear­lier, now I pay her in crores. If more women ori­ented films are made and ap­pre­ci­ated by the au­di­ences, then even the pro­duc­ers will hap­pily pay more to fe­male ac­tors.”

The Hol­ly­wood Pay Plight

Just like Bollywood, Hol­ly­wood has been fight­ing its own bat­tle in its own way. Hol­ly­wood’s gen­der pay gap has been a huge mat­ter of dis­cus­sion, with lead­ing fe­male ac­tors opt­ing for grand events and so­cial me­dia to voice their opin­ion. Pa­tri­cia Ar­quette have been an in­spi­ra­tion to all the fe­male ac­tors when she chose the Os­cars as a plat­form to echo her sen­ti­ments. She said, “To ev­ery woman who gave birth, to ev­ery tax­payer and ci­ti­zen of this na­tion, we have fought for every­body else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equal­ity once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of Amer­ica. “A per­ti­nent point, more so when you sit to know, that even af­ter bag­ging three Os­cars, Meryl Streep gets paid less than her male co-stars. She al­legedly said, “Men are ashamed that they’re get­ting that money. It used to be even ear­lier, every­body didn’t say anything about it, so it was kind of fine. Now they’re a lit­tle more ner­vous that some­body will find out what they make vis-a-vis their co-star. That’s the best vig­i­lance: the vig­i­lance of priv­i­lege.” Gwyneth Pal­trow cer­tainly didn’t feel re­ally good with the wage gap be­tween her and IronMan co-star Downey. She said, “Your salary is a way to quan­tify what you’re worth. If men are paid a lot more for do­ing the same thing, it feels sh***y. No­body is worth the money that Robert Downey Jr. is worth. But if I told you the dis­par­ity, you would prob­a­bly be sur­prised.” Renowned ac­tor Siena Miller even turned down a role in a

If men are paid a lot more for do­ing the same thing, it feels sh***y.” – Gwyneth Pal­trow

two-per­son Broad­way show for which she was of­fered less than half of her male co-star’s salary. She al­legedly said, “If it was two men, it wouldn’t prob­a­bly hap­pen. They wouldn’t pay me within a mil­lion miles of what the male ac­tor was be­ing paid. And women al­ways have to do more pub­lic­ity than the men. The only way is to make a stand. We are going to have to make sac­ri­fices to make change. I want to turn up and feel dig­ni­fied.” While fe­male co­me­dian Kathy Grif­fin has been quite can­did on the is­sue, she al­legedly said, “I can’t even re­mem­ber a time when I wasn’t in a sit­u­a­tion where my male coun­ter­parts didn’t make more money than I did. She added, “I take my f---ing awards and ac­com­plish­ments, and I bring them to the ta­ble” — some­times lit­er­ally, bring­ing her Em­mys to meet­ings. “I think it’s part of the male in­dus­trial com­plex to keep women quiet about what their salaries are. If the guys make more, I guar­an­tee you they are told to shut up and not tell the girls.” she added. But there’s cer­tainly a ray of hope. Emma Stone has openly pro­fessed dur­ing the pro­mo­tions of Bat­tle of the Sexes her male co-stars took a “pay cut” so that she could “par­ity with them.” She said, “That’s some­thing they do for me be­cause they feel it’s what’s right and fair.

Good Times Maybe?

But per­haps, there is a ray of light. Re­ported, our very own Mas­taani Deepika Padukone was paid ` 11 crore, for Pad­ma­vati. The amount sup­pos­edly is more than Ran­veer’s pay. Even pre­vi­ously, the megas­tar Amitabh Bachchan re­port­edly quipped, “I can tell you one thing. In Piku, Deepika Padukone was paid more than me.” Sridevi too was paid more than the male ac­tor in the movie MOM. This might have finally spiced up the Cock­tail of money mat­ter in Bollywood. So is the glass ceil­ing break­ing slowly yet surely?

Straight Talk

Jim Sarbh com­mented, “I think the pa­tri­archy in gen­eral is afraid of women hav­ing any kind of power. It might up­set their hold on so­ci­ety and con­se­quently, films aren’t even writ­ten for them.” Ac­tor and di­rec­tor Shreyas Tal­pade also re­marked, “We’ve seen that change usu­ally doesn’t hap­pen overnight. In­come dis­par­ity has al­ways been there and prob­a­bly will re­main to a cer­tain ex­tent even in the fu­ture.” “We have seen fe­male ac­tors like Deepika, Kan­gana and Alia who have the power to make that change, do­ing it in their own way. But there will be a change and this dis­par­ity that we are talk­ing about prob­a­bly will be ei­ther to an ex­tremely lesser ex­tent or it might even be re­versed,” he added. Vidya Balan too al­legedly said, “Re­mu­ner­a­tions have changed but if you com­pare it with what the men get, it is still very dif­fer­ent. But I think we will get our due. We are slowly mov­ing to­wards that.” Priyanka Cho­pra sums up “I re­ally want there to be rel­e­vance to girls in the movie busi­ness. I am re­ally happy to see all the ac­tresses whether it’s Vidya, Deepika, Kan­gana, Anushka or my­self, that we’re to­gether to sup­port this cause. I think if we stand by each other, change will def­i­nitely hap­pen.”

The dif­fer­ence in male and fe­male ac­tors’ pay­checks is in­sane. You only get paid more than a man if you are Priyanka Cho­pra.” – Kalki Koech­lin

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.