Unlike Hollywood, Bollywood's problem with pay disparity came to the forefront only recently. Even though the gender pay gap was as present in the industry as it is today or maybe a bit worse than that, the only difference is it was never fully debated at the time.
Most recently, Deepika Padukone, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu and other actresses candidly spoke out about the wage gap that persists between men and women in Bollywood. But unfortunately, the discussion is still not receiving the attention it deserves.
So when a female reporter during a light-hearted session at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival's Movie Mela directed a rather serious question about the pay disparity to India's two biggest actresses-- Alia Bhatt and Kareena Kapoor Khan, the 500-strong crowd went silent.
The reporter asked: "You both are at the peak of your stardom. Do you ever have to walk out of a film or compromise because you're getting paid less than your male co-star?"
Kareena, who first hesitated and briefly appeared at a loss for words, responded, "There were probably different reasons of walking out of films, but not because of this particular reason." However, she added, "I'd love to get paid as much as my male co-stars though."
When further prodded about whether she was being paid equally to Akshay Kumar in their upcoming film Good News, Kareena smartly asked the session's moderator, Karan Johar, to address it. For the uninitiated, Karan is producing Good News under his banner Dharma Productions. He is also backing Takht, which features an ensemble cast including Ranveer Singh, Vicky Kaushal, Kareena and Alia.
Seemingly wanting to dodge the question, Karan told Kareena, "It was addressed to Alia and you, not me."
When the journalist made another attempt to ask Karan by referring Takht, he eventually went on to explain, "There is a larger understanding of the economics of movies that sometimes is lesser known by people who don't understand the business and how it functions. Many times, people make sweeping statements about it. I'm the first person who'll always want to pay what is completely right and justified and valid. I've always done it. But I feel there's a larger understanding of the budget versus the verticals that you sell on digital and satellite that are driven by different data."
He added," There are many women who deserve much more money than the men and there are men who have earned that because of their talent and just the work they have put in. So, it's very subjective and cannot be just put into one strong slot. While I'm all about equality, there are larger optics to look at where we have to."
Alia, on the other hand, simply said, "I'm very happy with what I'm getting paid and the god has been great."
Follow @News18Movies for more