Hollywood is fighting for equal pay and it's cool, but here's why the equal pay debate is NOT FAIR in Bollywood. Our trade expert Akshaye Rathi shares his thoughts...
Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan are top Bollywood stars, who are drawing big moolah and carrying movies on their shoulders. Kangana Ranaut, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif too have started doing films that have them as the lead stars. And despite this change, here's why the entire equal pay debate is UNFAIR in the Hindi film industry.
The issue keeps coming up every few months - 'GENDER EQUALITY IN BOLLYWOOD' in the context of the pay scales for actors and actresses. You often hear artistes labeling the fraternity as ‘male dominant’, ‘unfair to women’ ‘iconic of male chauvinism’ and much more. While nobody can deny that the male stars take home a much heavier paycheck compared to their female counterparts, some thought needs to be put into the reason behind this scenario.
To begin with, lets get the meaning of 2 words, that are often interchanged conveniently right –
An ACTOR is a performer who portrays a character (developed by the director’s/writer’s imagination) onscreen.
A STAR is an entity whose name/face on the posters of a film ensures the SALE OF TICKETS to millions of fans across cinemas in order to help with the recovery of the money spent on availing of his/her services and making a film.
Now, considering the kind of money that is spent on conceptualizing, developing, producing, marketing and releasing a film these days, you’d wonder how many STARS does our fraternity really have, who can ensure that crores of rupees are earned purely on the merit of their popularity? Not more than a dozen I reckon!
Getting into the ‘gender war’ in this context, lets analyse the business of films featuring 2 of the top male & female stars in the last few years.
Highest grosser in the last 3 years – Bajrangi Bhaijaan – Rs. 319 crs
Lowest grosser in the last 3 years – Jai Ho – Rs. 104 crs
Highest grosser in the last 3 years – Tanu Weds Manu Returns – Rs. 169 crs
Lowest grosser in the last 3 years – Rajjo – Rs. 1.31 crs
Now, if you look at the worst case scenarios (which we should, because film making is as much of a business as it's an art) – The leading male star managed to draw net collections beyond Rs 100 crores even with his lowest grosser in the last 3 years, while on the other hand, the leading female star drew just a little over a crore with her least grossing film.
Imagine a scenario, where ‘equality in the pay scales’ came into play! Just think of the plight of a producer who may have paid a hefty amount to a leading female star for a film that turns out to be Revolver Rani, or worst still Rajjo! On the other hand, the two leading male stars at least ensure a business bottom line that prevents film makers from running directly towards disaster!
Now, one may argue that higher amounts need to be paid to these leading ladies for the ‘brilliance of their performance on screen’, but doesn’t that make things equally unfair for some brilliant ‘performers’ like Deepak Dobriyal, Boman Irani, Sanjay Mishra etc, who I’m sure are paid much lesser than Kangana Ranaut or a Deepika Padukone despite delivering some electrifying performances?
While I am all for giving actors/actresses and stars every bit of the respect, appreciation and acclaim that they deserve for the fantastic work they do, when it comes to the money, rationality is the way forward and NOT ‘equality’! Every STAR, irrespective of his/her acting skills, years of experience, scope of performance and certainly gender, ought to be paid based on his/her ability to draw returns at the box office! Till that happens, the only ones bearing the brunt of unfair play are the film makers who sign those hefty pay cheques and the distributors and exhibitors who in turn take a beating for overspending on films that don’t even have the intrinsic potential to make recoveries unless miracles happen, like they do a few times every year!
- Akshaye Rathi
Stay tuned to BollywoodLife for the latest scoops and updates from Bollywood, Hollywood, South, TV and Web-Series.
Click to join us on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram. Also follow us on Facebook Messenger for latest updates.