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Best paid job in India?

Nothing in this world is free and no one knows this better than our Bollywood hotshots who charge even for making an appearance. Collin Rodrigues tells more.

entertainment Updated: Nov 07, 2009 16:46 IST
Collin Rodrigues

It’s a well-known fact that Bollywood stars charge big money to perform at events. We see pictures of Bollywood biggies attending such dos, of known and obscure industrialists, on a daily basis. Media bytes with the star, on the occasion, reveal that he or she is an old friend of the host. But that’s far from the truth. These star appearances come with a high price tag too.

Bollywood stars charge a bomb to show up at these events. And this isn’t about shaking a leg on the stage. It’s about just being there.

“There are thousands of super rich families in small towns and India’s interiors who can shell out lakhs to just have a star make an appearance at their do. They don’t mind paying whatever price the stars demand,” reveals Atul Shah, a well-known publicist.

Most transactions are done in cash to evade income tax.

Managers and secretaries of a star negotiate the appearance. On record, these actors never acknowledge the existence of such deals.

So how do we know who’s paid how much?
Enter Joe Alvarez, a thirty something professional who shuttles between Goa and Mumbai. He’s currently camped in the city scouting for a Bollywood star who can add glamour to his boss’ son’s wedding back in the coastal state.
The wedding scheduled for December 26 is being held at the posh Cidade De Goa Hotel. The star has to be present for half-an-hour; accommodation and ticket fares are to be borne by the host.

‘Salman won’t budge for anything lesser than Rs 1 crore’
Joe starts from the top with a phone call to Salman Khan’s manager Alok Mathur. After asking a volley of questions, Mathur finally talks business.

“Salman Khan doesn’t come cheap, hope your budget fits the bill,” he says.

Joe’s initial offer is Rs 25 lakh, which is turned down immediately. “What are you talking? That’s just the quarter of what Salman would charge,” informs Mathur.

Joe is bewildered and reconfirms what he heard. “Yes it is Rs 1 crore, why don’t you talk to someone who suits your budget. Salman wouldn’t budge for anything lesser than this,” he retorts. Joe promises he’ll call back after talking to his boss.
Next, he calls up Mahima Chaudhary’s residence to request the contact of her manager. Her mother Usha Chaudhary answers the call. Without asking too many details she explains, “Mahima charges Rs 10 to 15 lakh depending on the stay. But since Goa is closer to the city she can come for Rs 10 lakh.”

He then contacts Rebecca Pereira, Sushmita Sen’s manager.

“I can’t give you any details without knowing your boss’s name. First give the exact details of what he wants,” she says. Then, Joe offers Pereira Rs 30 lakh (for her star boss’s appearance).

“Are you paying in cash? But that still wouldn’t do unless you tell me who you are representing,” she retorts.

A few days later, she repeatedly asks for the budget and the mode of payment. She’s told the cap has been raised to Rs 50 lakh, for one major face, or three mid-level stars. Even the name of the businessman is disclosed.

“Why don’t you send me a mail, then we shall revert with the exact price,” she tells him.

Joe moves to his next target, Santosh Mezari, Manisha Koirala’s accountant.

He doubles up as the actor’s secretary and willingly quotes a price without much hesitation. “Manishaji will take between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 6 lakh for a visit wherever in India. You can call me just a few days before the trip. I’ll take care of everything,” he assures. There’s no bargaining or further questioning.

‘Hrithik Roshan does not attend any ordinary bash. It’s Rs 1.25 crore, even if it’s for half an hour’
Talent management agencies run the profiles of dozens of Bollywood stars. In the West, such firms arrange work for film actors. In India the concept changes drastically and could entitle negotiating appearances at weddings at a stipulated fee. The transactions are mostly done in cash without paying taxes.

This is how Joe gets hold of Ankur Sagar of Carving Dreams. “Hrithik Roshan doesn’t attend any ordinary bash. It’s Rs 1.25 crore, even if it’s for half an hour,” reveals Sagar. That leaves Salman far behind. But Sagar handles some smaller stars as well.

“Minissha Lamba and Ameesha Patel can come for Rs 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh. I can even get Mallika Sherawat for Rs 20 lakh, though she’s abroad most of the time,” he boasts.

Joe then contacts Shams Lalji who works for photographer Atul Kasbekar’s agency, Bling, which manages celebrities.

‘Akshay doesn’t come for as little as Rs 30 lakh. Dimple Kapadia Might’
Akshay Kumar’s manager Lokesh Bali refuses to talk on the phone. He wants to meet and discuss the matter personally at his office. The Rs 30 lakh quoted to him is too less. “I can get you other stars like Dimple Kapadia within that range, Akshay doesn’t come for that price,” he says.

He doesn’t relent, in the next call a few days later, and insists that a meeting is necessary. He even refuses to acknowledge the offer he made a few days back.

“When did I talk about Rs 30 lakh? I think something is fishy about this whole thing,” he says. Joe puts his suspicions to rest by agreeing to send him a mail on the shaadi.

‘Priyanka Chopra takes between Rs 30 to 50 lakh per appearance’
Priyanka Chopra’s manager, Chand Mishra is more forthcoming. “The appearance fee for Priyanka is between Rs 30 lakh and Rs 50 lakh. This can be negotiated at a later date,” he concludes. He too wants a meeting.

The next call is to Dharam Oberoi, Sanjay Dutt’s secretary. His initial reaction is that Dutt doesn’t go to weddings or parties. After much convincing, he quotes a figure of Rs 70 lakh.

“He can’t come down to anything below this,” he concurs. When called back a few days later, he sounds perturbed, as there was no reply to his offer.

“Where have you been for so long? You don’t even take my calls,” he states. He’s told that the boss in Goa declined the offer due to the steep price, as the budget is Rs 50 lakh. He readily agrees without much hesitation.
“But you have to pay at least Rs 20 lakh in advance. Sanjay will be in Bangkok at that time and I will have to arrange for his return from there,” he sums up.

‘Katrina Kaif charges Rs 30 lakh for cutting a ribbon’
Joe now turns to Sandhya Ramachandran, Katrina Kaif’s manager. After a long introduction, it’s time for business. “Rs 50 lakh is the right amount. She anyway charges Rs 30 lakh for ribbon cutting,” she confides.

But Ramchandran’s not sure about the appearance, as it is too close to Christmas, which Kaif celebrates in the UK. Apparently Ms Kaif hasn’t attended a wedding (one that is all expenses paid) and charges 50 per cent higher during peak season. It’s time for Joe to move on.

Poonam Damania, Kareena Kapoor’s manager promises a good deal for Joe. “Kareena will take Rs 40 lakh. I can get you Saif for another 40, though I don’t handle his portfolio,” she promises.

She adds that the rates are fixed as the couple is very popular.