Kareena Kapoor, Alia Bhatt And Karan Johar Got Asked About The Pay Gap In Bollywood. Kareena’s Response Was Interesting, Karan And Alia Sat On The Fence.
How would you feel if I told you that someone doing the exact same work as you, as skilled as you is earning much more because he is the proud owner of a penis? I wish this was a hypothetical question but unfortunately, it’s as real as the inequality we have learned to live with, every day. We’ve learnt to be the section of the society that almost has a monopoly – which we didn’t ask for – on making compromises. We’ve grown up compromising on just about everything, without even realising it. For instance, if you’re walking and a man is walking from the opposite direction, and it is apparent that one of you will have to step aside to avoid collision. Why is it almost never the guy who steps aside? Or that feeling of crunching yourself tightly, when in a crowded metro or bus while the men just stand like they own it. This can qualify as a rant, but hey, piss a woman on a Monday and that’s what you get. So here’s what happened and it may sound like a first-world inequality issue, considering several women don’t even get this much in our country but it’s quite legit and relatable for working women. Recently, a reporter asked Kareena Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Karan Johar about the pay disparity in Bollywood and their answers felt more diplomatic than ever.
For the uninitiated, while the pay gap in Bollywood has been prevalent for as long a the industry has existed, it’s only recently that it has begun to gather momentum. So I am glad that the reporter took the opportunity to question the industry’s biggest names at Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival’s Movie Mela. She asked Kareena and Alia, “You both are at the peak of your stardom. Do you ever have to walk out of a film or compromise because you’re getting paid less than your male co-star?” Of course, the actresses weren’t expecting that and Kareena was speechless for a bit before replying, “There were probably different reasons of walking out of films, but not because of this particular reason.” She further added, “I’d love to get paid as much as my male co-stars though.”
We have known Kareena to be straight-forward, she doesn’t mince her words. And she did give an honest response – not an elaborate one – but honest. So when she was probed further and questioned if she is getting paid equally to Akshay Kumar in their upcoming film Good News, Kareena passed it on to Karan Johar, who happens to be the producer of the movie. Not wanting to be in the hot seat, Karan told Kareena, “It was addressed to Alia and you, not me.” I may not be the right person to give a very-informed opinion on this, because well, I am not well-informed about the business of films. But as a layperson, I feel like the pay should depend on seniority, market value and screen time.
Karan Johar explained, “There is a larger understanding of the economics of movies that sometimes is lesser known by people who don’t understand the business and how it functions. Many times, people make sweeping statements about it. I’m the first person who’ll always want to pay what is completely right and justified and valid. I’ve always done it. But I feel there’s a larger understanding of the budget versus the verticals that you sell on digital and satellite that are driven by different data.” So I partly agree with this when the male actor does deserve getting paid more. But in movies like Student Of The Year, in which Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Siddharth Malhotra were all debutants and had pretty much the same scope – I want to know if they got paid equally?
Is Alia Bhatt getting paid as much as Vicky Kaushal and Ranveer Singh in Takht? Of course, Karan Johar wasn’t going to really reveal anything. His answer was diplomatic about the pay disparity, “There are many women who deserve much more money than the men and there are men who have earned that because of their talent and just the work they have put in. So, it’s very subjective and cannot be just put into one strong slot. While I’m all about equality, there are larger optics to look at where we have to.” I understand it cannot be put in one strong slot. We are not saying that Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt should be paid equally. What we are saying is that when two actors have the same experience and screen time, the female actress shouldn’t be paid less just because of her gender.
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While I am disappointed that Karan Johar didn’t give an upfront response, I am not surprised. I am not even surprised with Alia Bhatt’s response. “I’m very happy with what I’m getting paid and the god has been great,” she said. Well, if you really want lessons in diplomacy, intern with Alia. Clearly, she wants nothing to do with the issue of pay gap in Bollywood, and largely in India because hey, she is happy with what she is getting. Speaking up isn’t so difficult, try a little.