The downside of the Hindi Film Industry

The downside of the Hindi Film Industry (Kabir’s Point of View)

Introducing Kabir

Kabir is a young enthusiastic film buff. He is an advertising junkie whose family is not closely related to films. However, Kabir knows the single day as well as lifetime collection of all films. It’s his passion to keep a track on the insider happenings of the industry. From actor fees to the popcorn rates at PVR, Kabir knows it all. Every Sunday, we will share Kabir’s point of view on one topic related to the industry. Today Kabir is depressed, very depressed.

Here’s why

There is a very famous proverb in Hindi that says “Chai se zyaada kitli garam” which when translated means “The tea pot is hotter than the tea”. It’s Kabir’s favourite term these days. So when related to films the question arises as to who is the tea and who is the tea pot. Kabir calls the managers and staff of these actors as the “Tea pots”. Their income is almost three times of what an MBA professional earns. Even worse, it’s rare that the actor’s bear the expenses. The amount spent by the production house on the stars does not just constitute his acting fee but also goes in paying members of his extended staff, including make-up artists, hairstylists, spot-boys, drivers, bodyguards and even their chefs, trainers and business managers. Even when it comes to crediting the business managers of these actors are credited with various titles from marketing to core team. We all know that managers are responsible for managing schedules of actors and nothing else. They should only be credited with an EA credit (Executive Assistant) or Secretary position.

The Big Pinch

An ‘A’ lister’s staff (hair stylist or make-up) get paid anything between Rs 20,000 – 30,000 per day. This is the bare minimum with stylist even charging around Rs 50,000 or higher depending on the star and his demands and the experience of the stylist.
While a spot-boy is paid Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000 a day, drivers and bodyguards are paid about Rs 1,500 to Rs 3000 per day. A gym trainer would cost approximately Rs 10,000 – 15,000 per day.

The sad truth

A script writer for any film (one of the main reasons why a film works) earns around 15-18 lakhs for Story, Screenplay and Dialogue. The effort behind this is atleast 1 to 1.5 years of hard work and continuous reworking. Lets calculate the per day earning of a script writer (assuming that he has worked for a year and a half to lock his project).

Per day earning of a Writer = 17,00,000 / 548 days (i.e a day and a half) = Rs 3,100 per day
Per day earning of a Marketing/ MBA professional = 60,000 per month (approx) = Rs 2000 per day

In short, even a Script Writer / Marketing professional may earn lesser than the support staff of a superstar.

While I agree that it’s vital that an actor looks appealing on screen, there are many more important factors and departments which are lesser paid but are key in making a film work. In today’s times the budget of a film is as important as the script, and one of the most important factors on why a film works. A production house has to bear all the expenses of the actor and it’s unfair for the producers to pay any cost apart from what the actor is paid – which is already a HUGE amount. It’s about time that actors bear the cost of their staff, which will ensure that the burden on the producer reduces quite significantly!

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26 Comments

  • Shame! Over paying actor’s staff and under paying writers are the reasons why we get such bad films nowadays. And the price is passed onto the moviegoers by the production house by increasing ticket prices.

  • Interesting analysis. Particularly the comparison between script writer and supporting staff. But there’s a flip side to this argument. How many “popular” movies have a “script” to talk about? Do script-writers who write films like Kick, Happy New Year, Dhoom 3 or Bang Bang deserve 20 Lakh ruppes? Dhoom was a straight rip off of prestige, bang bang and kick were remakes, happy new year was plot less.

    What kind of “work” did these so called script writers did for 2 years? Let’s accept the fact. These films work because of their stars, and they have that fan-following due to their personality. And this personality is managed my their managers. So yes, they do get what they deserve.

    About writing, well it depends on how you see it. I am keen on writing novels and I have a unique plot in my mind. I very well know that novelists are paid even less than screen-play writers, and mind you, it takes at least 3-4 years to write a novel. Amish was writing Meluha for 5 years, Bhagat had started developing 5 point some one while he was in college. So it’s evident that you can’t make a living out of it.

    I want to be a writer, but I have accepted the fact that writing will not give me food for survival, it will however give a meaning, a purpose to my life. And even the good screenplay writers get their due when they produce good work. Shimit Amin’s co-writer, Jaideep Saini, who has written films like Chak De India and Rocket Singh is one of the highest paid writer in the industry.

    Ultimately if people accept your work you won’t have to worry about money! It’s a daunting task, but there is always a room at the top!

  • @indicine: Is this Kabir a character created by you to provide insights into the film industry or really this guy exists and is one of your friends??

    Anyways,Kabir has clearly shed light on some of the things that goes unnoticed from a movie buff’s perspective.
    On some points I agree yes spotboys,managers,bodyguards are paid high but you have to also look that their occupation is’nt a full term one,they don’t work all round the year like a mba professional..An A list star,suppose Aamir or Hrithik does around 3 films in 2 years.So their staffs may struggle to find work and earning for their family.

  • Many Producers already refuse to pay the support staff. That happened some months back in a meeting

  • Well said Indicine.
    Hope industry think on it and there are many overpaid “super Stars” who can’t even deliver a 15 crore opening….

  • nice article.completely agree with all the points mentioned here.writers definitely deserved to b paid more

  • @gaurav I respect ur views about films like bb,hny,kick,ce,k3 but its unfair to say that those films worked only bcz of star power.

    if star power was the only reason for bo success then every film starring khans,roshan,kumars and kapoors would hv been all time blockbusters

  • Great article !
    But strictly object on one point . Who said film mainly works because of its script ? Do you think CE , DABANGG , ETT , HNY , D3 worked because of script ?
    In the last 5 years tell me the name of 5 films which have received commercial success because of its script ? You’ll left with nothing except QUEEN and BMB .

  • I think some “Superstars” or let me correct myself “megastars” should be payed more so they don’t have to dance in weddings,party functions!!

  • @arjun kapoor

    Krrish 3 and Agneepath were bumper hits with okayish script. For huge collections, you need a combination of national holidays, increased tIckes rates and many other factors. I feel some of the bad choices of Akshay have badly affected him. If gets One or 2 films having critical and commercial appeal, he will bounce back. Baby, S26 are not the kind of films which will get numbers. You need OMG, ZNMD, 3I kind of feel-good dramas to get numbers as well as acclaimed.

    But the way I look at writing is “passion” I really don’t care how much I will get paid for it, I will continue writing because I love doing it. That being said, I am essentially talking about literature, which can be done without giving up my core profession, but script-writers have to use all their energy on one project and get peanuts in return. Which is really a sad truth!

  • It is the truth the greats like salim and javes akhtar gave classic movies but their paynwad low. And in do many interviews the duo said this lets take care of our writers and we will get good movies. Its a fact. Out Bollywood movies work mostly on big stars and their stardom.. That’s y we get kick hny n bang bang because script writers don’t really care and I am sure its the reason y we getting quantity not quality. And we are seeing decline in Bollywood box office when we compare this year to previous years. Y should we public pay such high ticket rates every week for average movies. This issue will backfire Bollywood. Remake of south Hollywood and now Marathi or copy paste. Few actors are focusing on script nowadays n hoping that shuddhi fan raees sultan dangal changes these 200 Cr 100cr club and actors go by script and start thinking about writers pay and better script.thanks kabir and team indicine.

  • I believe kabir is none other then our karan johar,you tell me one thing Mr kabir do script writer do more work physically then spot boy.no …. in my country new Zealand where am residing at the moment labourer get paid more than software engineer so they should be recognized with their work ethics not profession

  • @indicine
    i have already read this article..
    This article was an interview of vishesh films producer Mukesh Bhatt.!!

  • @babaj..
    rofl,!! that was a good one. i like it….
    but don’t get me wrong for any signals of treaty…

  • In Canada, ppl who have the job of collecting garbage”Garbagemen” have greater job perks than engineers, and that is the way it should be. I mean people who sit in front of a table for 2.5 years just writing random things which doesn’t make any sense(The guyz behind Tevar,HNY,BB,Tevar,Kil/Dil,Tevar,etc) want to be paid more than a person who runs around entire sets everyday or someone who has to drive continuously under high pressure according to his Boss’s liking?I mean some deserve to be paid,some don’t! They should and are paid after the script is ready. You can’t expect a producer to fly around 5 Crores every time he sees a Tevar or Happy New Year or Tevar! If script is good, then they should be paid more than 17-18 lakhs but if its bad…..you should just quit. Another commenter also noted that spot boys and drivers don’t work the entire year so for someone who works for three months, the pay should be high as they may work for three months, but they are living whole year! Also, I think that Kick actually had a story and was a good movie masala wise and was in its own league. Movies which are mentioned by others that really don’t have a script are Happy New Year,Dhoom 3(It was not a good script but was there) and Bang Bang!
    1 more important point, these so-called writers nowadays make script in 2-3 months that is why they are not good. The scripts they are making can easily be made by a driver or spot boy in few days. Biggest example: Happy New Year, Farah khan had been working on script for about 10 years(according to a source) and you guyz know the end product!
    1 more importantlist: People who should be banned from bolywood(and their entire crew):
    SaJiD KhAn
    FaRaH KhAn
    PrAbHu DeVa
    DiReCtOr Of TeVaR
    (I wrote in this way as these people would find this style FUNNY!!!)

    1 more important fact: Why is no one mentioning Tevar?

    All(or most) of my dislikes will be from Hrithik fan(for mentioning Bang Bang),Aamir fans(for mentioning D3),Some Bhuddha’s multiple accounts(For,Haahaha,Tevar) and from the almighty SRK fans( They may come in huge flocks to dislike for HNY).

  • look …. im sry..but with full respect …
    why this guy kabir weste so much time in these filmi things… people earn money so wats point in keeping eye on it..insted use this concentration on urself get gud job or.money for u…if ur already rich they improve but why to weste time on filmi people who dnt take themselves seriously n dnt even know things like zharkhand is state or city….. then why we care… being filmy is cool but utilizing time on zero output thing is nt sooo coool… sry if it hert…

  • Well! this is an interesting article!

    But why are script-writers paid low?
    It certainly makes me feel like scripts are not being given that much of importance specially in Big Budget films/populations. (ofcourse, there are some exceptions too. Eg. PK)
    There most be some reasons behind such treatments! A film like Queen, Vicky Donor, Kahaani wouldn’t have worked with a bad script. And even among the well-scripted films. “feel good” kind of films mostly work.
    To make a below average film and big star film successful, one should follow these steps.
    1. Buzz by promotions, music, trailer
    2. A holiday release
    Films like Kick,BangBang,HNY worked at BO due to these factors along with the stardom of actors. But, definitely! Films like BB and HNY would have collected better with a better content!

    Also, scripts are emphasized by some producers too. Most of the films under Phantom are good. And, Aamir Khan, Zoya Akhtar etc produce good films too. On the other hand, the producers of banners like eros and even YRF are not giving much importance on script!

  • @Imbollywoodfan,mention your name as @bhai fan.because you can point out HNY ,d3,tevar,humshakals,bang bang.but you couldn’t point out mahacraps like dabang2,bg,kick,jai ho probably all.and kindly don’t try to predict from whom you dislikes because your comments /mind forgot to write this man- sAlMan kHaN should be banned from Bollywood.when try to to say TRUTH write it fully with out doing partiality.

  • Nice article…
    Dear Kabir… If possible please write an article on importance of vfx in movies and money a vfx studio earns and most importantly per day income of a vfx artist… Entry level roto artists to vfx supervisor…

  • its really true kabir. we are sufferer. These issues need to be presented in front of the common people , and the law needs to be close to these issues. thanks Kabir.

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