Bollywood beauties commanding hero-like fees?

‘For those who like to track figures, Kareena Kapoor’s may be worth watching. After a long time, a Bollywood heroine has managed to break the glass ceiling. Kareena will get a share in profits from her forthcoming film, Heroine. This makes her a part of the exclusive club of superstars who earn big through film rights.

Kareena, on her part, is playing it down. “Such arrangements depend on the project as well as the actress,” she told Sunday Times. “The way the economics of Heroine has been chalked out, one does not really know. But for the budget at which it has been planned, I am being paid pretty well. There is going to be profit sharing as well, in some way.”

Trade analysts are not surprised that Kareena is the one who managed to pull this off. Her box-office track record has been impressive. She is, after all, the only heroine who boasts of four hits that have grossed over Rs 100 crore each recently.

But the question that everyone (especially , the other heroines) is asking is whether Kareena’s arrangement can set off a trend in B-town ? Distributorproducer Shyam Shroff, who has made films like Chandni Bar, categorically says that the concept won’t work in India. The Kareena-Heroine deal is an exception, not the norm, he feels. “Pick up any of the five biggest grossers in the last five years and then check the contribution made by the female leads in those movies,” he says. Another factor that may go against profit-sharing is Bollywood’s notorious lack of transparency. “The way business is conducted here, it is better to get your remuneration upfront rather than wait for future sharings,” Shroff adds.’

‘In the last few years, heroines have managed to break the Rs one-crore mark. So, while the Khans command five to six times the price, the top-rung heroines are supposed to be content with Rs 1.5 to 2 crore as their paycheck. Kareena, currently one of the highest paid heroines in the film industry, only earns half of what her cousin Ranbir earns per film. It’s not as if Bollywood has not had its share of megah e ro i n e s — women for whom temples have been built and roles specially scripted .Rikku Rakeshnath, who was Madhuri Dixit’s manager, points out that there were several films in which Madhuri was paid more than the hero. “Even today, she is getting a comfortable price,” he says.

Yet, producers today don’t hesitate to replace even topmost actresses . A leading film critic recalls when Aishwarya Rai had asked for a crore for 10 days of shoot in Mangal Pandey. “The producer refused to pay her the price. Instead, he gave the role to Amisha Patel.”

Many also feel that today’s heroines don’t really deserve the money they demand . “Can any of the present heroines draw a full house on day one? I am all admiration for Kareena, but even she needs to pair up with SRK, Salman or Aamir to be called successful,” says veteran film writer and author Udaya Tara Nayar.

On their part, New Age heroines are willing to try out “difficult” roles to justify their price. Katrina not only worked on her language delivery, but accepted an unconventional role in Rajneeti. Priyanka Chopra took a huge risk in doing a film like 7 Khoon Maaf. Kareena, who has done films like Chameli, is all set to play a schizophrenic actress in Heroine.

And now there are reports that Vidya Balan has hiked her price and demanded more than her next film’s leading man, Farhan Akhtar. Trade Analyst Amod Mehra thinks it makes sense. “Vidya is one heroine who does not require a hero. She is the hero of the film. Be it Ishqiya, No One Killed Jessica and now The Dirty Picture. She is certainly in a position to ask for a hike and I can easily call her the female Aamir Khan of the industry.”‘

‘Moolah & Maidens: FILM FEES (approx)

Kareena | 4.5 to 5 crore

Katrina | 4 crore

Priyanka Chopra | 3 crore

Deepika Padukone | 3 crore

Vidya Balan | 2 crore

Sonam kapoor | 1.5 crore

Sonakshi | 1.5 crore’



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