Unfortunately, the wage gap isn't a concept that we hear of today. In many (read: most) industries, it is women who are earning significantly lesser than what men make over the long term. A survey released earlier this year by the 'Monster Salary Index' for 2018 shows that the wage gap in India stands at 19%. According to Business World's recent report, it only narrowed by 1% from 2017.
Well, just like any other industry, the world of cinema also has a gender-based wage gap with male stars earning way more than their female counterparts. Actor Bhumi Pednekar recently opened up about this, saying that she was once paid only 5% of her male co-star who had got a similar number of hits.
Talking to a media portal, she said, "In the early years, it used to be a huge problem. I’m not going to compare my pay to somebody who has been in the industry for so many years. I can’t be someone who’s not able to attract a large audience but expects a crazy pay. There has to be a logic behind it. I have been in a situation where I was paid 5% of what my male actor got, even though we had the same number of hits and our career graphs have been similar."
She added, "Things have changed tremendously. There’s this wave of films that’s led by female characters, and it’s empowering to be a part of these."
Her recent role in Bala was highly criticised online and received a lot of flak because she played a dark-skinned girl while she is on the conventionally fairer side. In response to that, Bhumi said, "Everyone has faced bullying. I have been fat-shamed since I was a kid. I was always a chubby kid. Everything is a problem. If you’re too short, it’s a problem. If you’re too tall, it’s a problem. Hairy, not hairy, fair, dark, - everything is an issue."
On the work front, Bhumi Pednekar will be seen next in Pati Patni Aur Woh alongside Ananya Panday and Kartik Aaryan. The film is slated to release next month on December 6. Netizens slammed the film for having a joke about marital rape in the trailer. Previously, Bhumi was seen in films like Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Saand Ki Aankh, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, and Lust Stories.
Actors like Taapsee Pannu, Sonakshi Sinha, and Aditi Rao Hydari have also spoken about the wide gender pay gap in the Hindi film industry. Kangana Ranaut even went on record and said that her male costars are paid thrice as much as her. A report by Forbes shows that even actors with a lot of awards and years of experience like Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra earn lesser than their male counterparts.
We're almost in 2020 and this is a sad reality that we still face. Hopefully, with people demanding to be paid enough for their labour, scriptwriters writing stronger female characters and with more female filmmakers coming to the forefront, this will change.
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