I met Vidya Balan at the brink of Mission Mangal‘s release and I don’t remember being so excited to meet another Bollywood celebrity ever. While we all know she’s a force to reckon with on-screen, I’ve watched multiple interviews of hers where she has been an absolute ray of sunshine. And honestly, I wanted to see if she was as happy-go-lucky as she seemed in all her interviews. And I’m more than happy to report that she is.
Having arrived late for her interview, she first deeply apologized to all of us for the delay and sat down only to say she would be taking off her heels keeping her feet up on the chair. TBH, she had won my heart right then and there. A celebrity who is unabashedly herself? Where can we find more of them? Turns out on the sets of Mission Mangal. While Vidya answered questions on her character, her lull period and so much more with so much grace, there was another heated topic on which she talked about and it finally made perfect sense to us. The topic of pay parity is something that has been talked about in the recent past. Vidya had an enlightening approach to the whole thing.
I keep saying this that I haven’t experienced it much. Because if you compare the ratio of male superstars take for their films against the budget of their film to what I get against the budget of my film, it’s the same. I’ve been very happy with the amount that I’m getting so far. The point is that the budget for my films is much smaller, so I can’t expect to be paid as much. So what male superstars get in absolute terms is more than the budget my films sometimes. It can’t be compared. It has to be compared in the correct terms. Now in this film, I haven’t asked how much Akshay Kumar has got, I should probably have asked (She laughs)
Let’s face it, it is the business of cinema and fortunately or unfortunately so far people would always say, “Akshay Kumar ke film dekh ne jaa rahi hoon.”Even today, people say, Salman Khan ke film, Shah Rukh Khan ke film, Aamir Khan ke film. When women start playing equally prominent roles in those films they will be able to, I think… When audiences come in to watch them equally and it matters who the heroine is. I think there are very few films that these superstars have done the female lead has mattered. And where they have mattered I think or hope they’ve gotten paid well. At the end of the day it’s all about the business of cinema.
The problem is not really pay, the problem is the overall budget of women-centric films. Not only should producers be ready to pump in more money for projects with a female lead, but at the same time audience should also be willing to come to movies to see that female lead. This is what will ultimately help the movie and the producers make a profit.
We hope we get to see more and more big-budget films for our female superstars like Vidya in the industry. Don’t you?