Move over actors. Bollywood directors are now commanding big moolah, with some charging as much, and sometimes more, than top actors. Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, for instance, was reportedly paid a whopping R35 crore by producers UTV Motion Pictures for Guzaarish — almost thrice the market price of the film’s lead actors Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Director Rajkumar Hirani had a share in the R340 crore profit of 3 Idiots, while Anees Bazmee commands R10-15 crore per film, like actor Salman Khan.
It’s the audience’s perception of directors that has led to their enhanced value, say producers. “Some directors today have become brand names in themselves. Earlier, an actor would create a market, so we spent on him. If a director adds to the marketing, we have no problems in paying him as much,” says Vikas Bahl of UTV.
“I have paid Abbas-Mustan and Raj Kumar Santoshi more than the actors. It’s all because of competition. There are many actors but few successful directors, and all producers want to sign them, so they quote high prices and we agree,” says producer Kumar Taurani.
“Now, directors insist on a profit share as well. Rajkumar Hirani got a profit share in 3 Idiots,” explains trade analyst Taran Adarsh. “It is completely justified. Vishal Bhardwaj and Anurag Kashyap may not always cast big actors, but they are bigger crowd-pullers than some actors,” says film critic Anupama Chopra.
Directors, and even actors, are liking the change. “I am happy that I get what I ask for. If you have made good films, and you have a name, they are willing to pay. In some cases, the director is even the highest paid on the sets,” says director Anees Bazmee. “Some have created a brand for themselves. So, they can command their price,” says director Madhur Bhandarkar. “It’s great… they do a lot more work than actors,” says actor Neil Nitin Mukesh.