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