No matter how progressive the world around us gets, Bollywood will always remain a male dominated industry
They say behind every successful man there is a woman. But, in Bollywood, there seems to be one too many.
From Kareena Kapoor, riding high on her '100-crore heroine' tag, to a Katrina Kaif, deemed as the latest Khan queen, actresses in the industry seem to be only too happy to latch on to the triumphs of their male co-stars even today.
"Even before the film's release, I know it's going to be a hit. So why wouldn't I work with an SRK or an Aamir," says Kareena.
From the very beginning, the big boys have been calling the shots in Bollywood. And the girls, who make them look good, stand pretty and obeyed.
Friends with benefits Be it within a film or even their personal equations, Bollywood beauties seem to have little choice but to play along with their more successful male co-stars to keep the roles coming.
The recent Kangna Ranaut spat with Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgn proves the point. Sources say the actors won't touch her with a barge pole now.
Clearly, this is not the first time when the heroine has been at the receiving end of the wrath. Everyone's aware of the infamous fight between Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan during Chalte Chalte (2005).
A disagreement with then boyfriend Salman Khan resulted in Ash being ousted from the film and replaced by Rani Mukerji.
On the other hand Priyanka Chopra, who did films like Mujhse Shaadi Karoge and God Tussi Great Ho with Sallu, is now not in the best of terms with him.
Result? She will never be part of Salman's paisa vasool cinema. That leaves her with little choice than to keep her foot strong within the SRK territory.
While Kareena made sure she shared good rapport with Aamir Khan, even Bipasha Basu is apparently trying to get into the good books of Sallu.
As for Katrina, from the Khans to the Kumars she has it all covered.
No woman-oriented cinema Though this year has seen films like No One Killed Jessica and even Saat Khoon Maaf with women as the centre of the story, neither of the films did great business.
However for someone like Madhur Bhandarkar, who has probably churned out maximum female-oriented scripts, it's about the choices our heroines make.
Says Madhur, "We can count on our fingers the number of actresses who will be able to pull off a Fashion or a Heroine.
And even if they can, many of them choose to stick to conventional song and dance cinema."
For Milan Lutharia, who is directing his first woman-oriented subject with The Dirty Picture, the male actor is a producer's crutch. "The hero is a very saleable commodity and no one can deny that.
I can't expect a Rs 70 crore film to run only with a heroine. However, in The Dirty Picture my actress is as aggressive as a hero.
You need an actress as talented as Vidya to hold the fort and only then it is worth the risk."
Adds Bipasha Basu, "It only makes sense to go with whatever works. People like to see commercial entertaining films and I will do them as long as they satisfy me. There could be four heroes or none, doesn't matter."
Money matters Over the past few years, with action coming back with a bang, the heroes seem to have acquired even more might.
This has resulted in not just doubling of their pay cheques, but most of them even claiming profit shares in their films. However, it seems to have had little impact on the salaries of our leading ladies.
Says trade analyst Amod Mehra, "Movies with heroines as the central character hardly manage to make money Even the highest paid heroine in Bollywood gets only 20 per cent of what a mainline hero makes."
So be it Ash, who was paid between R 3-4 crores for Robot, or Kareena, who has reportedly bagged Rs 8 crores for Heroine, their pay cheques hardly come close to that earned by their leading men.