Bollywood Baatein: Time for A-Listers to take a pay cut?

Karan Johar and many other top Bollywood producers including Sajid Nadiadwala, Ritesh Sidhwani & Aditya Chopra have asked actors to take a voluntary fee cut

Bollywood Baatein: Time for A-Listers to take a pay cut?

Subhash K Jha

Following the massive failure of his latest production JugJugg Jeeyo Karan Johar is unlikely to be able to pay his actors the fee they think they deserve. Apparently, this marital comedy which has made a big dent in Karan’s pocket, turned into a major financial liability after the producer paid in double-digit crores to even Kiara Advani.

A close friend of Karan Johar reveals, “Varun Dhawan was paid close to Rs.60 crore. Anil Kapoor couldn’t be paid any less since he considers himself a superstar. Neetu Kapoor was doing JugJugg… as a favour to Karan.

“Even Kiara considers herself a ‘lucky mascot’ after the success of Bhool Bhulaiya 2. She wants and got a hefty fee. It seems she has forgotten Laxxmi Bomb and Indoo Ki Jawaani where her luck didn’t stick. Kiara claiming credit for the success of Kabir Singh or Bhool Bhulaiya 2 is like Johnny Lever taking credit for the success of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.”

The friend demolishes the myth that Karan’s actors give him a discount out of goodwill, “They charge their full price from Karan. More than half the budget of JugJugg Jeeyo went into paying the stars.” This ‘star’-tling pay scale is about to be revised drastically.

Karan Johar and many other top producers including Sajid Nadiadwala, Ritesh Sidhwani and Aditya Chopra have “requested” their actors to take a voluntary pay cut as these producers can’t afford to pay the actors what they want.

Says a harried producer, “It is the domino effect: you pay Varun Dhawan what he wants, then you pay Anil Kapoor the same and so on. The truth is only Kartik Aaryan has delivered a hit this year.”

According to trade insiders, only Kartik Aaryan has been offered a pay hike. “His producers Bhushan Kumar and Murad Khetani offered Kartik Aaryan a substantial pay hike for Bhool Bhulaiya 3. When he declined the offer arguing that the recession demands him to play down his rising fortunes, Kumar presented him with an expensive car as token of appreciation.”

“Meanwhile, all other A-listers are sailing in the same leaky boat and it’s time for them to get off their high horses and knock off a few zeroes from their pay cheques,” confides a trade pundit on condition of anonymity.

After the crippling debacle of Heropanti 2, director Ahmed Khan and his leading man Tiger Shroff have both taken a pay cut for their next for producer Sajid Nadiadwala which will be a light comedy musical.

As for the others, Ayushmann Khurrana after Anek, Aditya Roy Kapur after Rashtra Kavach Om, Akshay Kumar after Bachchan Pandey and Samrat Prithviraj, Ranveer Singh after Jayeshbhai Jordaar and John Abraham after Satyamev Jayate 2 and Attack should be paying the producers to sign them.

John Abraham’s arrogant statement on how he looks down on the OTT platform has the nation open-mouthed in amazement at the sheer arrogance of an actor who hasn’t had a hit on any platform for quite some time.

And yet he sneers at the digital platform which is not only the future but also the present, going by the torrent of flops in movie theatres one after another.

John is quoted as saying, “As a producer, I love the OTT space. I would love to make films for the medium and cater to that audience. But as an actor, I am very clear that I want to be on the big screen. I am a big-screen hero and that is where I want to be seen. At this point, I will do films that cater to the big screen. I would find it offensive if someone shut off my film midway on a tablet because they needed to rush to the washroom. Also, I would not like to be available for Rs.299 or 499. I have a problem with it.”

Was John drunk when he made this outrageous statement… power-drunk, that is? How could he presume that the big screen still wants him after what happened to his Satyamev Jayate 2 and Attack?

This doesn’t of course mean that John and his ilk of so-called A-listers are welcome on the OTT. John must understand that unlike television, the OTT is not a dumping ground for big-screen rejects.

The OTT has nurtured and encouraged the topmost talent of the country, from Jaideep Ahlawat and Surya Sharma to Shefali Shah and Aaditi Pohankar.

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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