Tamil actor Vijay Antony takes a pay cut. Will Bollywood actors follow suit?
Tamil actor-music director, Vijay Antony has taken a pay cut of 25% for his next three films. So, now the big question is: Will Bollywood stars follow suit? Experts say ‘it’s the need of the hour’Updated: Jul 16, 2020 18:17 IST
It’s a given that the Covid-19 pandemic/lockdown has dealt a mighty blow to every business/industry. And the show business is no exception. As per a trade estimate, the Coronavirus-induced lockdown is likely to result in losses of over Rs 3,000-3,500 crore. Now, as the film industry finds itself stuck in a limbo, a question – which the trade experts as well as industry insiders have also started to ask – arises: is it time for actors, especially the top ones, to take a pay cut?
“That’s the only way out, especially if our actors/stars are looking at a rapid resurrection of the show business. For some time now, rationality needs to come in and vanity has to go out. An actor can’t charge a super-premium fee while others are stuck in an abyss. Their salaries shouldn’t put a pressure on the entire value chain, and make it all unviable,” says exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi.
Interestingly, actors such as Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Kartik Aaryan and Taapsee Pannu have already lent their support to the idea. So, while Dixit-Nene feels “we have to come and pitch in with our efforts”, Aaryan says he “would do whatever collectively we [the industry] decide to do.” Pannu, on her part, expects that when work begins, “we will need to take a salary cut and I am ready for that.”
Down south, Tamil actor-music director, Vijay Antony is taking a pay cut of 25% for his next three films. Reportedly, Malayalam star Mohanlal and Telugu actor, Allu Arjun are accepting a smaller pay check than their original fee. Also, it’s believed that Tamil producers have convinced actors to slash their salaries by nearly half.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh feels Bollywood actors also “ought to cut down on their salaries.” He says: “Otherwise, producers won’t be able to release their films, considering an actor’s fee is about 60-70 per cent of a film’s total budget.” Producer Ramesh Taurani concurs, saying: “It’d definitely be a welcome move. But it’s a bit too early to talk about it. Let the work start first, and only then, there will be clarity. It would also depend a lot on the kind of investments a producer has made or a film’s budget.”
Going forward, “sharing the risk” could be the name of the game, says filmmaker Nikkhil Advani. He explains: “I think more and more actors are going to be big on back-end sharing route. They are also sensible, and know that a film can’t be loaded too much with their pay check. I feel we will see a lot of them partnering in the risk, especially for films that they really want to be a part of.”
Rathi also has the same remedy to the issue. “What actors can do is not take a huge chunk of money as upfront fees. Instead, they can take a larger pie at the back-end. So, if the film makes money, they get their share of profits, and that too, without putting too much pressure at the start. So, it’s a win-win situation.”
When will silver-screen shine bright again?
Although film theatres have been shut for close to four months now, there is no glimmer of hope for them opening again, at least as yet. Now, with Chinese cinemas reopening next week with social distancing rules following months of closures, theatre owners are hopeful of the same happening in India too. And they reveal that various film theatre bodies and associations are “in constant touch with the government.” “Away from prying eyes, we are having continuous discussions with the authorities and ministries. If all goes well, we are hopeful of a green signal to restart sometime next month,” says a source from the theatre business.