The film industry — having already suffered a loss of Rs 2.5-3 billion at the box office in the last six months and reeling under rising fuel, travel and other production costs — is also having to give in to big ticket fee demands.
Salman Khan, for example, reportedly asked for Rs 50 crore for Amar Akbar Anthony and Akshay Kumar demanded Rs 40 crore for an Anees Bazmi movie. A-list stars ask for anything between Rs 10 crore to Rs 50 crore. Experts say while rising production costs are affecting the industry, what is really hitting them are actors’ fees.
“The skyrocketing fees of stars is the problem affecting the industry,” said Ravi Gupta, CEO Mukta Arts. Hiren Gada, MD Shemaroo, agrees: “Bollywood is suffering from inflation and the prime reason is the sudden, immense price hike by the A list.” All the A-list stars — Salman, Akshay, Shah Rukh, Aamir, Saif, Kareena, Katrina — upped their rates recently. Alpana Mishra, COO UTV Motion Pictures, said even line cast and crew have raised their rates.
“There has been a substantial price hike in the last six to eight months,” she said. This cost is somewhat contained because craft associations fix their wages. With the stars however, the rate varies — dependent on the success of their previous releases.
Industry insiders attribute the stars’ price hike to cash-flush corporate houses who are investing in films and pay the handful of reigning stars fancy prices. “Eight to ten stars started this trend,” said Mishra. “Stars who are choosy and don’t do more than two films a year end up charging big amounts.”
Another factor in the fee hike is the numbers game to become the highest paid actor. While production houses may be bemoaning the hikes, experts say inflation will have a positive effect on Bollywood.
Chartered accountant Mehul Parekh says, “The demand for entertainment in India is inflexible. It is a fact that when the economy is down, the demand for entertainment grows.”
(with inputs from IANS )