Kangana Ranaut Slams Actresses Justifying The Pay Disparity In Bollywood. We Agree With Her But It’s An Uphill Battle
The other day I was sitting at the lunch table with a few of my colleagues and taking a much deserved break, when the topic about women and them having to face so much flak for, well, just having a vagina instead came around and of course, I was contributing. While some called it my feminist side, I knew it was more than just an angry rant. It was years of bent up and built up frustration for not just fighting for equal stakes in the game, but also having to justify it to the other gender who is just naturally dismissive about this even being an issue. An emotion that hit right home with Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut as she spoke candidly and rather strongly about how she feels about women who justify the pay disparity in the industry.
At the recent trailer launch of her upcoming film Panga, Kangana Ranaut strayed away from talking just about the movie, to rope in a few important issues like that of the pay disparity in the Bollywood fraternity. Pointing out very blatantly how she doesn’t support the gap or the actresses making excuses for it, she said, “I have heard successful women from the film industry say things like ‘we don’t deserve equal pay because heroes get bigger openings’.” And she seemed to have opened a can of worms with that statement alone.
It is true that Bollywood has always kept with its sexist antics when it comes to how it treats its women. Be it the remuneration offered to actresses, the screen-time or even the kind of scripts, as long as a woman is involved chances are that she won’t be drawing the same amount of money as the male lead. And while we sit and blame men and society’s misogyny for it, we are forgetting how several women are too part of this disservice.
On the same note, Kangana continued saying, “If you don’t feel empowered, nobody can make you feel empowered. You have to feel like an equal. God has given me a pancreas, kidney, a heart and eyes. I am not inferior to others. If you don’t feel empowered no court can make you feel empowered. Half the battle is lost when you feel undeserving.” Her words were point on with this remark, because let’s face it, there have been innumerable times when actresses themselves have ended up justifying the pay gap, being okay with being paid less because they don’t draw in the crowds. We have allowed the society to run all over us and take us for granted, and instead of women lifting other women up, or even themselves up, honestly, we bring them down.
A lot of reports are saying that the dig was aimed at fellow actresses like Sonakshi Sinha and Taapsee Pannu who had gone on record to admit how it was okay for men to rake in bigger bucks because them headlining a movie gets the movie greater openings. In fact, during one such conversation with the Dabangg actress, Sonakshi Sinha had mentioned, “To all of us, it was team work. Even while we were shooting, nobody was made to feel smaller than the other person, despite there being so many people. And the fact of the matter is that Akshay Kumar is the biggest star in the film! Someone had told me very long back (smiles) and this line has stuck in my head: ‘Jo bikta hai, voh dikhta hai‘. Today, if you see Akshay’s collections, he’s the highest selling star in the entire film, that is why (his face is bigger on the poster).” And that right there,is the root of the problem.
One might argue that these ‘stars’, mostly male, do get bigger openings. But then for actresses to claim that is okay, to not even make an attempt to talk about this as a real issue, that’s just, well, stupid. Till the time we keep underselling ourselves and giving in to the baseless misogyny of the society, we are fuelling the very battle we are trying to fight. And this doesn’t just limit to the pay disparity but trickles down to every facet of life. Be it staying quiet during times when raising your voice is the bare minimum you can do, like during the #MeToo movement, or your inaction and silence over an issue like this, we are contributing to the problem in the first place.
Or even during such tumultuous political times when the country is out and about to fight against the injustices that come with the CAA, for prominent women to not come forth and take a stand beside the thousands that have come to the fore, we are yet again pulling the entire movement back. The world has seen enough of us climb and reach for the stars and do it just as well, if not better than the men.
Today, male actors like Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan or even the younger ones like Varun Dhawan and Kartik Aaryan have bigger openings for their films because we put them in that place. If tomorrow, we start showing just as much a craze for a movie headlined by an actress alone, it wouldn’t be long until the tables would turn and we are glad Kangana Ranaut is finally talking about the need for doing this!