“Pay me as much as Akshay Kumar,’ proclaimed Kareena Kapoor Khan recently. It’s not as though the prominent female actors don’t get paid well. It’s just that they don’t get as much their male counterparts. Unless it’s Deepika Padukone who got paid more than Ranveer Singh in Padmaavat and certainly more than her co-star Vikrant Massey in Chhapaak.
But by and large the ladies are paid far less than the male superstars. And perhaps justifiably so, since the ladies do not bring in the same volume of audience as the men. Tapsee Pannu who has played the male hero in several recent films like Badla and Game Over says she is content with the fee that she commands. “Lately I am happy with the money I am getting. The producers have been fair to me and have mindfully agreed to the raise I asked for lately. Pay parity is a problem, I agree to that fact .But it’s not like if we raise the issue the producers will agree and increase our remuneration.”
Tapsee feels it’s up to audience to upscale female remuneration. “It’s the audience who needs to help us with that. I never push for pay parity, I always say it’s the audiences who need to help us bridge the gap and only they can do that. I can only ask for more. After all it’s business eventually and we need money to make more films.”
Shabana Azmi, one of the most formidable female heroes of Indian cinema who helmed revolutionary films like Arth and Mandi, says the pay disparity is all about the numbers that the actor brings in. “At the cost of sounding renegade I think that is the main consideration. When a female star brings in audiences she will be paid equally. As more and more women centric films become commercial successes it will happen. However raising awareness on the issue in protest is a good way to start so producers start paying heed to this demand. The assumption that audiences are less interested in women-centric films must be contested. On the contrary action films are less likely to be patronized by a female audience has been tested to be true.”
Diya Mirza feels a pay parity is justifiable when the actress is known to get optimum eyeballs. “All gloves don’t and won’t fit the same hand. Questioning pay parity for actresses who have garnered big audience draw is totally justifiable. Because this does happen. There are female actors who have massive audience draw, they do not get paid as much as male actors. There have been a few exceptions though. But the larger question is not of what stars draw. But what the rest do. And why must women be paid less than men for the same job?”