First things first, let me emphasise that we don’t have much sympathy for those who gripe and moan about ‘excessive’ star remunerations. Invariably, these private rants are heard loudest from those producers who are most persistently pursuing those very stars to sign on the dotted line, with total carte blanche offered to the star in terms of choice of subject, cast and crew – besides the handsome fee, ofcourse.
Price, as elementary economic theory tells us, is a function of the interplay of demand and supply. So if stars demand a hefty price for their services, it’s in part because there are many who are not only willing to pay that fee but also to wait for many months, if not years, to work with expensive talent.
And why are producers disposed to being so generous and accommodating when it comes to stars? Obviously, because it is the star power and fan following of the leading man that drives the initial buzz around a film and leads the audience to the ticket counter on the day of release. The reason producers chase stars is because, going by the star’s track record at the box office, the producer has at least some idea of a film’s likely opening and potential collections along with other revenues like rights sales, on the basis of which he can do his budgeting and other calculations.
So, as we said at the very outset, this is not a note railing against ‘unreasonable’ star fees. Rather, it is one to suggest that perhaps as an industry we are guilty,willingly or unwillingly, of a gender bias when it comes to paying our stars.
Let us look at the reported remuneration of some of our leading men, juxtaposed with the collections garnered by their highest-grossing solo releases:
Now let’s turn to Ms Vidya Balan, who has not only been having a pretty fabulous run at the box office but is also among the main draws – if not the only one – of our last few films. How does her remuneration stack up against the all-important collections clocked by her films? Take a look:
Hmm… looks like someone has a pretty strong case for demanding a pay hike!