Bollywood actor Arjun Kapoor believes that pay disparity in the film industry is a sensitive issue but finds it “crass and rude” to talk about how much one gets paid.
On the pay disparity in Bollywood, he says it is “not about actors topping actresses”, but for several years it has been the heroes who have generated business at the ticket windows for a film.
“We are not saying that if you give them (actress) more money, we will not work. I have never asked how much my co-star is paid,” Arjun told reporters at ‘Bend the Gender’ event here last evening.
“For many years, there has been a certain growth of business because the main lead is a hero, an actor is the protagonist. The audience is used to seeing certain kind of films,” he said.
He, however, believes that in the last few years things have changed for women in the industry as the commercial success of a film has led to female actors getting more remuneration.
“I hate calling it a woman-centric film, but, for example, if Raazi does well, Alia Bhatt will be paid a lot of money for her next film,” he said.
“Like NH 10 works, Anushka Sharma’s salary will change. It is a sensitive thing to discuss, people’s prices, I find it very crass and rude. I feel this conversation leads nowhere as no one knows the truth except the bank manager and those who make the contract,” he said.
The actor said the situation is not perfect but nowadays there are a lot of ways to compensate an actor like if a film does well, they are paid after the release.
“With every passing film, you are not seeing just a certain kind of cinema. The way cinema changes, similarly this conversation will decrease,” he said.
Asked about the #MeToo campaign and female stars’ standing in Bollywood, he said actors like Kareena Kapoor Khan are the best example of women having a great career even after marriage and child.
“I am talking to you after the wedding of my sister Sonam Kapoor, she will continue working. Anushka Sharma has been working after her wedding. Kareena is a prime example, she has been back on set after Taimur (her son) was born,” he said.
What is more important, according to Arjun, is to make a safer and comfortable environment for female actors to grow and harness their skills.
“A story like Raazi seven or ten years back could be hero-driven but today it is content-driven. It is based on a true story and they have not changed it and made it with a guy. Evolution is there.
“India is a very big country so I am trying to change the thinking with ‘Bend the gender’. The film industry will not change or evolve overnight. We are making efforts, so we give credit to the film industry as we are way more secular and open,” he said.
Arjun felicitated those who stood for women’s rights.
“I felt we need to present those men who have made a difference in the lives of their partner, sister, daughters, and are supportive and encouraging, one can support just by standing by their side,” he said.
“We say behind every successful man there is a woman as she sacrifices a lot, so same way, men need to be there for women. Women are not given the opportunity,” he said.
In real life, he thinks his sister Anshula Kapoor is more talented than him.
“…she inspires me, she is so educated, she is correct and sorted. I want women in our country to do whatever they want to do,” he added.