Talented and successful, Kangana Ranaut and Jennifer Lawrence are living the same reality. Speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2015 on Friday, one of the most successful stars in Bollywood today, Kangana was unequivocal about wage gap. “Women who ask for what they deserve and are open about demands for equal pay are considered difficult. That needs to be changed. You know your worth and you should know when to put your foot down,” Kangana said, echoing Lawrence’s stand on pay disparity and how she didn’t ask for more money till now as she wanted to be liked.
Lawrence’s open letter for pay disparity is as relevant for Bollywood where the female actors are paid much less than their male counterparts. Female-centric roles are hard to come by as the industry plays by a rigid male-specific star system.
In discussion with filmmaker Imtiaz Ali, Kangana and actor Kareena Kapoor Khan spoke about Bollywood, discrimination in the industry and the Indian audiences. “When my career started, I was very open about going where my life took me. But back then in 2006, I realized there was a lot of discrimination– there were actors who were not superstars and there were superstars who were not actors. Things have mercifully changed now and our audience is ready for cinema that combines art with glam and mass appeal,” Kangana said, and added that it were films like Jab We Met – starring Kareena as its strong, feisty female lead -- which helped change people’s attitudes.
Kareena had the perfect response to her colleague’s comment, “Men were probably not good enough. Not as good as us. Or, probably not as gorgeous as us.”
Kareena has played a range of characters since she started her career with Refugee. A recipient of many awards, the actor spoke about the challenges of being an actor. “We always have producers breathing down our necks. Sometimes the circumstances are not very pleasant. There is no lost love between producers and actors, they are happy as long as their scenes are finished. In fact, the dangerous scenes are kept for the last so that even if the actor breaks a bone while shooting, at least the film is finished.”
Kangana, however, mentioned that leaving a character behind was her biggest challenge as an actor. “After playing a certain character, it is hard to differentiate between your real experiences and the ones you have enacted. I remember when I used to play drug addicts, depressed and dejected characters at the beginning of my career, I actually ended up melancholic even though I was a teenager. That is why all actors are twisted in their own way.”
During the two days of the Hindustan Time Leadership Summit, global leaders will come together to talk how India can become the world’s bright spot. Politicians and political thinkers, cricketers and actors, doctors and spiritual leaders will put their minds together in bringing out the best that India can do.
On Day 1, besides Kareena and Kangana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, minister of finance Arun Jaitley, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, minister for human resource development Smriti Irani, members of Parliament Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sitaram Yechury, Jay Panda and Supriya Sule were the important speakers. Soli Özel, Cole Bunzel, Joas Wagemakers, Robert Blackwill, Daniel Kurtz-Phelan and Diane Farrell also participated in discussions.