Hindi film actors speak out on issues so rarely that when they do, they come off sounding less than articulate, and in some cases even insensitive. Latest in line is Parineeti Chopra during a TV interview, where she was sitting across her Jabariya Jodi co-star Sidharth Malhotra, and he was asked about his first paycheck. The conversation veered into something else and Parineeti Chopra found herself in the midst of discussing pay parity in Bollywood. She signed off by saying that women make up for the wage gap in Bollywood by doing more beauty commercials, giggling like a school girl who had just embarrassed her class teacher in front of the class.
who cares about pay parity when you can do beauty and hair commercials pic.twitter.com/vk36eCeiqE
— zara (@reigningbhatt) August 5, 2019
It probably didn’t occur to Parineeti Chopra that while discussing an issue as pressing as Bollywood’s wage-gap, that she didn’t have to sound so apologetic about her beauty endorsements. “The girls have endorsements. The reason I don’t talk about it (pay parity) as much, is because the boys don’t do THAT many endorsements…” – Chopra is heard saying. Here, it will be important to point out that pay disparity exists in brand endorsement deals too, but also that she was actually working more to make the same amount of money like, say, Sidharth Malhotra.
She pointed out how she always found it difficult to reason with producers as to why she deserved her ‘right price’. “There were a few times when I saw the Hero’s cheques of the same film, who were in the same position as me, being paid up to four times of what I was getting paid. Like hypothetically, if I was getting Rs 5 lacs for a film, the same hero was getting Rs 1 crore. It’s that glaring” – Parineeti added, completely unaware of the gap between what she first said (four times) and the example she gave (twenty times) using hypothetical figures.
The whole conversation around pay parity is marred with several complexities in Bollywood. Alia Bhatt has said that she’s made her peace with being paid according to the audience she can draw to the theatres, compared to her male co-stars. And yet, when Parineeti Chopra debunks it by saying that she’s seen her male co-stars being paid more, it’s disappointing to hear her justify it by saying men don’t really have the avenues in brand endorsements, like the women do.
First of all, it’s an inaccurate thing to say, and as proof you only have to see all the high-profile endorsement deals. They’ve generally featured an Amitabh Bachchan, a Sachin Tendulkar, a Shah Rukh Khan or even a Virat Kohli. When was the last time you heard about a top-line female actor bagging a 200-crore endorsement deal with Pepsi? And it’s not just that, one shouldn’t have to work more to make the same money as their counterparts, purely on the basis of their gender. That’s what the whole conversation about pay parity. It’s unfair.