Actress, costume designer, director or editor — women in Bollywood are taking a lead on many fronts in showbiz. A reality check with the fair maidens in films, on whether the film industry provides a level working ground for all
Hema Malini, Film producer
There is no doubt that the film industry is male dominated when it comes to pay cheques, with the men always being paid more than the women. But as a producer, besides the regular challenges which every producer faces, I did not face any kind of problems because of my gender. There was nothing like male ego of actors or technicians when making Dil Aashna Hai or for for that matter Tell Me O Khuda. I would attribute that to me being a senior and a respected artiste of the industry.
Sonam Kapoor, Actress
We, women, are definitely trying to bring a change. An example is Bewakoofiyaan, where the director, the cinematographer and the editor is female. I made a choice in the last two years to avoid films where I’d just be a flower pot. And films like Khoobsurat, Bewakoofiyaan and Dolly Ki Doli are a reflection of it. Arbaaz Khan, who made a male dominated Dabangg, is making a woman-oriented Dolly Ki Doli with me. So, people are investing money on women-oriented projects. When I signed Raanjhanaa with Dhanush, there was a lot of negative reaction from the industry. But when you make difficult choices and it pays off, that’s a huge thing. In terms of money, yes, male actors get paid more. But women today have to make that choice, because we’re trying to propagate change.
Farah Khan, Film director/ Choreographer
I definitely feel that women professionals get equal opportunities and salaries in Bollywood. No department (except for heroines) is gender baised. Men and women are treated equally as long as they know their job and are good at it. Women get paid equally well as their male counterparts. In fact, I get paid much more than male directors and more than male choreographers when I choreograph a song.
Saroj Khan, Choreographer
Women can do wonders if they decide to. I have just finished working on an all-women film made by a Spanish team with Nandita Das in the lead. I started off as a shy 14-year-old, but managed to gain respect with time, when I became quite bold to take on the jobs that men were doing. But I must say that while men shirk certain duties, women will do their job diligently. Earlier, choreographers were treated like amateurs and were easily ‘replaceable’. But when I composed Ek do teen for Tezaab, everything changed for good. It brought respect to all the choreographers. From being paid Rs.15,000 per song, I began demanding a lakh post Ek do teen. Choreographers began getting paid well and a category for choreography was included in the awards. Gender bias will continued…