With meatier roles coming their way, A-list heroines go in for an upward revision of their fee structure
At a media conclave earlier this year, Kareena Kapoor Khan, arguably one of the highest paid stars in the industry had explained why she did not consider herself a 'hero. 'It is the producers and the three Khans who walk home with all the money,' she had said of mega films - 3 Idiots, Ra.One and Bodyguard. Kareena's plain speak had put the focus back on the embarrassing pay disparity in the industry that has been dominated by men.
At a time when Hrithik Roshan asks for and gets away with a staggering Rs 30 crore upfront and the other A-list actors scoop up a lion's share of the Rs 100-crore pie by the 'profit-share' formula, leading ladies have had to fall back on brand endorsements and special appearances to keep up with their male counterparts. But things may change after all.
TOI has learnt that Kareena, Priyanka, Katrina, Vidya, Deepika, Sonakshi and Anushka have decided to revise their fees, to bring in some semblance of parity with their leading men. And producers and filmmakers don't seem to mind.
While most top heroines have increased their remuneration by approximately two crores, Vidya Balan has reportedly upped her fees by as much as Rs 4 crore. Though that is much less compared to what the men are commanding, it is still a start.
Ramesh Taurani, whose latest venture Race 2 stars Deepika, Ameesha and Jacqueline, welcomes the trend, but insists he wants to play it by the ear. "It depends on the role. If I know for certain that an actress fits the role I am willing to pay the price she commands," he says.
R Balki, who has given us some of the most interesting women protagonists on the screen, roots for the ladies. "Our A-list heroines have tremendous charisma and have the ability to pull audiences to the theatres. There is no reason why they should not hike their rates. The rules of the game should be the same for the men and the women."
While some producers and financers have already begun to sign up heroines with the revised fee structures, others are warming up to the trend. Jayantilal Gada, who produced Kahaani with Vidya is preparing to shell out more for the sequel, "Vidya has to command more now. She has her own audience," he justifies.
Acknowledging the trend, he says: "Quite a few women-oriented films have churned out higher returns than the male dominated ones. Actresses are well within their rights to command a higher share of the pie."
For many producers accepting the revised pay structure is also a way to keep their leading ladies in "good spirits." A leading producer (on request of anonymity) said, "A few extra crores will not make a dent in your wallet, considering how big budgets are these days. But they will go a long way to ensure that you get the top heroines to work with you happily."
And while the Rowdy Rathores of the world continue to push women away from the centre stage to the arm pits of the swashbuckling heroes, there is a large section of the ticket-buying audiences that flocks to the theatres to catch a glimpse of their favourite actress. Anand Vishal, Head of Operations at Fun Cinemas agrees. "After Heroine, Barfi and Kahaani, the scenario has changed. Kareena counted in Heroine, Priyanka made a big difference to Barfi, Deepika stole the show in Cocktail and Vidya led from the front in Kahaani. People want to see them just as they want to see a Salman in Ready or Dabanng."