Actor Taapsee Pannu has claimed she has been paid mere five to 10% of what the male lead in the same film would have got. Taapsee has headlined a few big projects and continues to spearhead female-oriented scripts and films in an erstwhile male-dominated Bollywood. In a candid chat with Neha Dhupia on her podcast No Filter Neha, Taapsee opened up about the pay gap, not being credited enough for her work and more.
Asked if the pay gap bothers her, Taapsee told Neha, “Of course it does! When I’m paid only 5% to 10% of my heroes, of course it bothers me. The success at the box office will make sure the next film I get paid a lot which is slowly moving towards equalizing that difference. Rules are quite unfair, not just in our industry but maybe in every other industry. Because we are here, we see it more. But rules are different everywhere. And that’s what the fight is for, that’s what the struggle is right now, the whole issue of gender equality is that let’s make the rules equal. I’m not asking for an edge over them, I’m asking for equality.”
However, she added, her recent film with Bhumi Pednekar -Saand Ki Aankh may change things for her. “I’m hoping with Saand Ki Aankh and the response we are getting, it’s a step closer to that equality in one way or the other. For example, we never had a big female led Diwali release, I don’t know when did it happen last, it was always reserved for big heroes, the clash happened between two heroes. You know, when we see a calendar and we decide a release date for a female led film, we have to settle with leftovers, I’m not even kidding when I’m telling you that because I’ve done so many of them. We just sit on the calendar and we figure out, accha yeh din ke baad, yeh week khali pada hai, yahan pe kar lete hai. It actually happens like that, which is so disheartening because we also put equal amount of effort if not more and our stories are also beautiful so why not get an equal chance? Just because it’s a female led film? Is that reason enough for you to not come on a big date? Diwali we celebrate Laxmi and you know all the goddesses that we pray to, high time someone takes the step. Maybe I win, maybe I lose, but at least I will take one step to see if I can make the difference,” she said.
Talking about films like Badla where the narrative revolved around her, Taapsee said the male star (actor Amitabh Bachchan) got more credit. “Even when I do films like Badla, I had more working days or scenes so to say than Mr. Bachchan. He was the hero of the film, I was the antagonist. But the antagonist has more presence in the film than the protagonist. But eventually the film releases, they call it an Amitabh Bachchan film. Yes, when I raise my voice and say I’ve done almost equal if not more, that’s when people recognised and started taking my name because it’s such a male dominated industry, they don’t even realise that I might have done more work actually. It was called Sir’s film, it won’t be called a female film regardless of the fact that I have more scenes, it will be called an Amitabh Bachchan film and the credit will go there,” she said.
“That’s why my pay will not increase as much as it will increase after Saand Ki Aankh. It hurts me to see this disparity but I’m not going to be unreasonable and ask for an equal amount of money right away, I would rather wait and do things to equalize the box office and then expect them to pay me and honestly, they will. They are happily paying me because I am sensibly raising it, not just wanting to equalise it right away but balancing it with my box office success,” she added.