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Ladies first

Women get substantially more for performing in New Year-Eve shows. And that’s the way it should be.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2009 21:34 IST

As Defence Minister A.K. Antony promised the nation that women would “gradually join combat duty” in the army, the ladies in tinsel town don’t care two hoots about gender-neutral pay when it comes to New Year- Eve dance shows. And why should they? With Bipasha Basu slated to earn a cool Rs 1.8-2 crore to shake a leg and some other parts of herself at a Mumbai hotel on the evening of December 31-January 1, it would seem that item girls are worth more than starrier male items.

One of the ways in which to drum up a misogynistic tune is to talk about ‘reverse gender equality’. If men have to ‘suffer’ hearing complaints about their boys’ club habit of making women feel unequal in the army, in sporting arenas and in restaurant and hotel kitchens, women regularly face the same jibes from masculinists about inequality in the world of modelling — and ‘event shows’ as well. Apart from giants in show-biz like Shah Rukh Khan and the unnaturally childish-for-his-age Amitabh Bachchan, audiences softened up by the year-end spirit(s) would prefer kinetic eye-candy to silly dance routines by men. Also, the likes of Ms Basu haven't earned their stage credentials (and performance fees) overnight. They have chosen the winding and narrow path of the ‘item number’ to mark their USPs.

The New Year Eve shows are also treacherous for having the turnover rates of the performers higher than in any other performing arts — gymnastics included. To add to the cut-throatedness of the game, these women have to perform on an evening that makes it very difficult for them to forget that they age. Their job requires a talent in being in shape as well as being able to provide a crowd that expects much more, much much more. Can male stars pull off such a routine by their sheer visual display? Even the ladies in the crowd will say no. So, Ms Basu, you’ll be earning every paise of your Rs 1.8-2 crore December 31 kitty.
Our eyes have it.