The debate on pay disparity in Bollywood is not new to us. With male leads being paid way more than the female lead, the dynamic has been the same for the longest time. Not that actresses are paid any less now but not as much as the men. Amongst the many Bollywood divas, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Taapsee Pannu, Shabana Azmi have spoken about the topic and talked about the pay disparity quite often.


Recently, at the opening of the MAMI Film Festival 2019, Kareena Kapoor was asked about the disparity and the actress spoke candidly about it. Kareena Kapoor Khan while talking about the issue said, “Pay me as much as Akshay Kumar.” Now, actress Shabana Azmi, Dia Mirza and Taapsee Pannu have opened up about the same and below is all you need to know.

According to a report in Masala, Taapsee Pannu who is gearing up for her Diwali release Saand Ki Aankh added to this discussion. Taapsee said “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 with that fact. But it’s not like if we raise the issue the producers will agree and increase our remuneration.”

Kareena Kapoor Khan, Taapsee Pannu, Shabana Azmi Open Up On Pay Disparity In Bollywood

“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,” she added


Veteran actress Shabana Azmi, who has been vocal about the issue since a long time, is a looked after actress of her times. Having seen many years in the industry the actress putting forward her point said, “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.”

Adding to the list was also Dia Mirza, who said, “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?”

Though there are actresses who are changing the tide including Deepika Padukone who got paid more than Ranveer Singh for Sanjay Leela Bhansali for Padmaavat but the way to a wider change will take time.

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  1. Actresses are paid well, it’s the Male Actors who are paid insane money and that needs to be corrected! Our Hindi films compared to Hollywood English films have limited reach and are only still growing, even in India they rarely work in the Southern, Bengal territories. When Male actors charge exorbitant money in the range of 20 to 40 crores plus, they put considerable pressure on the Studios & Investors in case of a failure, no wonder so many Studios have shut down or are struggling to survive, with an exception to a few. This is not responsible business practice, Actors are being selfish and they need to review their approach keeping in view the greater future of our Industry, that has given them so much. Better way would be for leading male actors wanting to charge big money, should be given a token amount and a percentage on the profit (Which some actors are following by sharing the risk of the Producer). Great Content, Visionary Director, Talented Actors and Actors with star power, Risk taking Producer and passionate Team are all needed to produce a success and good film, it is not a ‘one man job’, or bad films with huge actors would have also worked. Also for the larger number of films we make, we need atleast 25 to 30 newer male & female actors to spread the competition and make the actors remuneration more practical. The Industry needs to work cohesively to make everyone gain and build a stronger foundation for this wonderful industry and also give back some way to the Industry in research and development innovations. Are we never planning to build an world class Indian film camera, film lenses, high end film equipment, books & research on screenplay writing or restore our golden classic films vanquishing in some dusty forgotten junk room? We call ourselves the biggest film Industry in the World, lets start working towards truly making it One!


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