Bollywood actresses on wage gap

A year back, actress Anushka Sharma had come out one day, and been candid on all possible disparities in Bollywood that an actress might fall prey to. “If there is an actor at the same stature as me, who would be able to bring in only that much money to a movie, he would still be paid more than me because he is a guy. Nobody is even thinking about it. It is just ingrained,” she said.

True, it is just dream too distant. It is imagined and taken for granted that the actress deserves to be paid less than the actor does. And if she somehow grabs more money than the actor, it is supposed to be making headlines the next day. Why? Because we, with our terribly regressive mindsets, still judge them with their genders instead of going by what and how they perform.

After ‘Ram Leela’ and ‘Bajirao Mastani’, the reel-life partners Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh are coming together for ‘Padmavati’ once more. The news is breaking the internet already and publications are busy digging out more information. Meanwhile, an ‘OMG’ piece of news grabbed our eyes. Deepika Padukone is being paid more than Ranveer Singh for acting in ‘Padmavati’, it stated.

Big deal, right? A few hundred times in a year, not only in Bollywood but also across the vernacular film industries across the country, actors are dominantly paid more than actresses. No one finds them ‘shocking’ or worth making a news on. Shortly, a clarification from the makers arrived, claiming all such rumours to be untrue. Hmmm, the rumours could be true or false, but they sure made waves; so huge that the officials had to issue a clarification.


The very fact that such headlines exist, is proof how we have failed the concept of equality; in every walk of life. Forget a non-urban and illiterate Indian woman’s misery. A Bollywood actress who lived the life so many of us dream of and has her hands on fame, success, money and what not, is also not spared of gender bias. Not to forget that the dream life that she is living is a result of her hard work and perseverance, striving to make a space and name for herself in this male dominated world, and not something that has been bestowed on her.

If we research a bit, the top Indian actors to make it to Forbes list of world’s highest-paid actors (2015) are Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Shah Rukh Khan. Yes, no Indian actress has broken through the list. When you list down highest paid actresses in the world, Deepika Padukone cracks the tenth position. What thoughts cross your mind when you read this statement, given that we have time and again witnessed that Indian actresses are in no way less in mettle than Indian actors? Then why so much difference, that Indian actors make it to the top five, while the only Indian actress to grab a spot in the list, debuts at number ten!

You’d be mistaken to think actresses are not vocal about it. They are. Time and again, they have unveiled how the actress’ pay packet is far less fat than that of an actor. Priyanka Chopra, who is slowly making her mark in Hollywood as well, said “The difference in male and female actors’ pay cheques is insane,”. National Award winner actress Kangana Ranaut, who is certainly capable of carrying a film on her shoulder alone, saysWe don’t get paid even one-third of what male actors get, just because we are women!”  “There’s a difference of several zeroes in the pay cheque I get vis-a-vis the Khans,” stated Kareena Kapoor Khan once.

Wondering what the possible cause of such disparity could be, is like walking amidst a labyrinth. You don’t reach anywhere. But yes, it is probably due to the age-old outlook that actresses are easily replaceable and that an actress is NOT an integral part for carrying the story forward. Another primary reason why women-centric films are often made in a shoe-string budget is because the financiers are always fearing it might not ‘sell’ well. You know you should worry about the wage gaps in Bollywood when superstar Shah Rukh Khan (who is the highest paid actor in Bollywood right now) says we can start with equal pay now.

Over 100 years of Indian cinema, and we are only planning to start now!

Also Read: Is the extreme contrast of Indian beauties in Bollywood and Hollywood justified?