Deepika Padukone has the life everyone dreams of. It seems unbelievable that an A-list Bollywood actress like herself could’ve been removed from a film, simply for asking for equal pay. Deepika stepped down from Bhansali’s Baiju Bawra after asking to receive the same payment as her husband – who is also part of the film.
“Not a penny more, not a penny less,” is what Deepika reportedly said to Bhansali. The star, who rose to the peak of her career with Bhansali behind the camera, was refused her demand. Deepika then walked from the project, following it with a heartfelt note to her director on social media.
The gender Pay Gap is still alive in the Film Industry
Even in 2021, it is surreal that an actress of status like Deepika is refused to be paid the same as her male counterpart. The wage gap in the film industry has always been an underlying but ever-present problem. To counter backlash when incidents like these happen, production houses often do damage control by simply displaying the lead actress’s name first. Actresses have always raised the discrimination they face when it comes to their treatment and portrayal by the media. Earlier, Kareena Kapoor also came under the spotlight for charging 12 crores for playing the role of Sita in a film.
Why should this even cause so much uproar, is really unclear. Perhaps because female choice in the professional space is something that people still see as brazen. Female actresses in the West began popularizing the idea of equal pay in recent times. Frances McDormand made the whole audience make applause for all the female nominees, advocating for pay and opportunities. Natalie Portman also honoured the female directors in her dress which got snubbed by the academy for a nomination.
Deepika is now a producer, actor and a mental health advocate. There shouldn’t be a reason for women to feel happy after being denied their worth, while still being part of something. Why would anyone be happy working in a condition like that?
When will women asking for simple and basic things receive normalization? It is 2021, after all; a woman can ask for a pay raise to support herself and because of her worth, regardless of her profession.