Bollywood actors demand pay hike; experts credit high content consumption among audiences

Due to the pandemic, content consumption has driven up the demand for actors, and that has translated into them asking for a bigger pay cheque. Besides raised fee, actors such as Vikrant Massey, Kartik Aaryan and Radhika Apte will also get an extra amount if their film opts for a direct-to-OTT release.
Actors such as Radhika Apte, Vikrant Massey and Kartik Aaryan have also added clauses in their contracts about their films going directly for a digital release.
Actors such as Radhika Apte, Vikrant Massey and Kartik Aaryan have also added clauses in their contracts about their films going directly for a digital release.
Published on Oct 13, 2021 10:42 PM IST
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By Rishabh Suri

The negative impact of the pandemic on the world of showbiz has been massive and much talked about — shoots stalled, theatres shut down and livelihoods affected. Now, as the industry gradually regains a semblance of normality, one may assume that actors will be asked to take a pay cut to cover losses. However, it’s quite the opposite. As OTT medium witnesses a soaring demand in content consumption, actors are demanding a salary hike.

Our source reveals specific examples of actors who have hiked their fees from the ball park of 50 lakhs to 2 crores now. About a year-and-a-half back, actor Gulshan Devaiah was charing 40-50 lakhs. But, now he is asking for 2 crores. The same goes for actors Harshvardhan Rane and Vikrant Massey. They were getting 75 lakhs to 1 crore, and they have now started asking for 1.5 crore. hThat too, comes with a clause in the contract: if their film goes for a direct-to-digital release, they will get 1.5 crores extra.”

Massey’s co star in his upcoming film, Forensic, Radhika Apte, too, is another example. “The fees she is asking for is 2.5 crores, and has included the same clause (regarding OTT release) has been included in her contract,” our source adds.

We are told that actor Kartik Aaryan was also paid an extra amount when Dhamaka’s makers decided to release the film directly on a web platform.

Trade expert Atul Mohan says, “As there is a lot of demand from OTT, actors are so busy they don’t have time. Practically all actors are busy for the next couple of years. If you approach them, they don’t have dates. So that means when you are in demand, you will obviously ask for more money.”

There is nothing wrong with actors demanding a raised fee, feels producer Anand Pandit, who has bankrolled films such as The Big Bull and Chehre.

He opines, “It is about demand and supply. If I am an actor and my producer is giving me 10 because of whatever equation… suddenly if some OTT platform gives me 50, my demand goes up. I will ask for more money, as simple as that. I have not come across someone abruptly asking for more money. I don’t see anything wrong in this.”

How well an actor can do commercially is what drives their market value, but producer- trade analyst Girish Johar asserts that this also depends from actor to actor.

“If there’s viability, the producer will pay. We all know how revenue streams have been impacted, especially the theatrical ones. The critical one is the digital revenue, that has temporarily become the backbone. The moment theatrical business opens up and everything is normal, I think then it makes no sense,” he reasons.

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Saturday, October 16, 2021