Bollywood’s leading ladies, like Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan, Katrina Kaif and Kangana Ranaut, are not amused at the pay disparity between male and female stars in the industry, and have spoken out in solidarity against it.
While Priyanka calls the difference in remuneration “insane”, Katrina feels the gap is “huge”. Kangana feels actresses “don’t get paid even one-third of what actors get”.
Producers aren’t denying it 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 ensure that both my male and female actors get equal pay,” says film-maker Pooja Bhatt.
Some feel that things are changing gradually, 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 actresses,” says producer Vashu Bhagnani.
Many contest this as a sexist approach and 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 film-maker Vipul Shah.