Our divas are not amused at the pay disparity between male and female stars in Bollywood, and have finally spoken out in solidarity.
Actors Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan, Katrina Kaif and Kareena Kapoor Khan are all expressing their displeasure strongly, making film producers sit up and take notice.
While Priyanka calls the difference in remuneration ‘insane’, Katrina feels the gap is ‘huge’. Kangana Ranaut feels female actors "don’t get paid even one-third of what male actors get".
Producers aren’t denying the truth either. "It’s an old mindset, a feudal system. There is a general perception that women don’t sell films — a fact that is gradually changing world over. I, for one, ensure both my male and female actors get equal pay," says filmmaker Pooja Bhatt.
Some feel that things are gradually changing much like in Hollywood, and argue that more women-oriented films may even the scale. "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," says producer Vashu Bhagnani. Many contest this as a sexist approach, and others suggest different alternatives.
"A fee that any star commands is not decided by the producer, but by the star’s market value. The solution may be going the Hollywood way, where stars get part of the film’s revenue depending on its fate," says filmmaker Vipul Shah.
According to industry estimates, the ruling Khans — Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir — pocket Rs. 35 crore to Rs 40 crore as acting fee per film. But most also have a share in profit and end up earning much more. Leading ladies such as Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra and Katrina Kaif, however, get only about Rs 5 crore as acting fee per film.
The difference in male and female actors’ pay cheques is insane - Priyanka Chopra
Women need to get paid better in the so-called typically commercial films -Vidya Balan
We don’t get paid even one-third of what male actors get, just because we are women!- Kangana Ranaut
There’s a difference of several zeroes in the pay cheque I get vis-a-vis the Khans- Kareena Kapoor
The remuneration for women hasn’t changed since I came here. There’s a huge disparity- Katrina Kaif