Benedict Cumberbatch recently said that he won’t take a role if his female co-star isn’t paid equally. Whether it is a publicity stunt or he truly means those words, it can only be known until we get further information. It has always been alleged that the film industry is dominated by male, whether you take it at the national level of international.
Now the question arises: how much difference in payment is there for a male and a female star? In Bollywood, the highest-paid actor male is Salman Khan, who gets almost 60-70 crore per film while the highest-paid actor female is Deepika Padukone who receives 26 crore per film. There is almost a 34-44 crore difference between the payment of the two stars. This somewhat proves the fact that the Indian film industry is a male-dominated which means that the portrayal of women in films is a direct reflection of the woman’s role in Indian society from a man’s point of view.
In my opinion, if an actress is able to play the same role as that of an actor, then why pay her less than what the actor would have received? However, in case they are playing side roles, then this stand seems irrelevant, so it does not include the side role actors and actresses.
The same happens in the Hollywood film industry where George Clooney is the highest-paid actor in the world, having earned 239 million dollars before taxes last year while Scarlett Johansson tops Forbes’ list of highest-paid actresses getting 56 million dollars in pretax earnings. This shows a difference of almost 183 million dollars.
According to Forbes, the top 10 highest-paid actresses earn less than 30 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. The number of roles written for females is way less than the number of roles written for males. This happens mainly because most of the scripts are overwhelmingly male-dominated. However, now it is slowly improving.
Nevertheless, equal payment is something which totally depends on one’s market profile. It entirely depends on how many people are interested in putting in money and what would be the return on that particular investment. Again on hearing the statement above another thought pops into mind. Why is a woman’s market value less than a man’s? Isn’t this value set by the people making the film?
The biggest reason why there is a difference in the payment of actors and actresses is that the fees are determined based on their previous quotes. In case an actor has hiked his pay over the years by proving his worth and value, then in the upcoming film, he might get more than he had received previously. Since women have fewer opportunities to prove their value in movies which can make big money around the world, they don’t have the precedent, and this reduces their pay.
Therefore, to reduce this payment gap, both industries should start producing films which have a good and interesting role for the female stars. We should also speak up about this issue and celebrate women at all levels.