Disparity in the moolah shelled out for a hero and heroine has been the bane of Indian cinema ever since its inception, with the balance tilted heavily in favour of the hero.

Slowly though, the situation is changing. A Kareena Kapoor today charges approximately 2 crores per project and lesser known heroes are being paid less. Why is there a disparity between the fees between the two sexes? We caught up with three filmmakers, who have donned both the hats of a producer and a director for their movies.

Karan Razdan, whose three movies – Umar, Souten and Eight are slated for a March release says, “The disparity is because of the two extremes. Heroines in Bollywood have always been just glamour dolls. Roles of substance still elude women in Bollywood because our films are more dependent on heroes. Cinema is a reflection of society and unless and until the awareness is generated at the grass root level, the income disparity will always be prevalent.

“Gone are the days when actresses like Hema Malini, Rekha or a Madhuri Dixit could demand the money that is offered to a hero. If you see in Hollywood too, very few actresses like Julia Roberts and Angelina Jolie demand a fee equivalent to that of the hero.

Bollywood is unfair to the fair sex. While Aamir Khan demands Rs 7 crore for a movie (The Rising), Aishwarya Rai manages just Rs 2.5 crores per project.

“However, one can see a change with more and more heroines being paid in crores today. It is another thing that they are not at par with the hero’s income. Equality is really a rare phenomena.”

Madhur Bhandarkar, who has been making women -oriented film like Chandni Bar, Satta and Page 3 discloses, “Everybody knows that it is a male dominated society and in Bollywood, heroes are worshipped more as compared to heroines. The perspective is different. Our films reflect women only as a glamour quotient. The change will come about but it will take a long, long time. Actually what separates the income between the sexes is the packaging of a film. Rekha, Madhuri Dixit or Sridevi used to command a high price and because of the packaging, producers used to pay them hefty fees. Today, Rani Mukherjee and Preity Zinta demand high fees because of their draw at the box office. In Hollywood, you have Demi Moore and Meryl Streep who are always paid higher or equivalent to their heroes.”

While the two men gave their version on the topic, Ruchi Narain, producer and director of Kal – Yesterday & Tomorrow gave her perspective saying, “It is not because of the sexes that a hero is paid more and a heroine is paid less. Both are actors and who can pull in more crowds/audience is what counts when one does a research regarding the economics of a film.

“Off late one can see that more and more actresses are being paid more than actors. For example, Kareena Kapoor will always be paid more than Manoj Bajpai, not because they are in two levels as concerned to their performance. The fact is that Kareena has more power to pull in the crowds as compared to Manoj Bajpai. However, if one compares Akshay Kumar with Kareena, he will be paid more because of his pulling power. At the end of the day, a producer will think twice about the practical aspect rather than whom to pay more.

Narain has the last word: “Any actor, who can pull in more audience will naturally demand more money and they will be paid to have a box-office hit. So you see, disparity of income between the two sexes is prevalent in all the industries. Who can perform well and can benefit the investor is the crux of the whole aspect, ” she signs off.

Source: Hindustantimes

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