The issue of pay disparity has become a rage in Bollywood now, but actress Juhi Chawla says she never got upset about the wage inequality and “accepted” that her male counterparts would get more than her.
Actresses like Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Kangana Ranaut and Anushka Sharma have openly slammed the Hindi film industry for pay disparity.
The 48-year-old ‘Yess Boss’ actress, who ruled Bollywood during the ’90s, feels the issue has always been there and it won’t be resolved anytime soon. “Pay disparity has always been there. It was there during our times too. There was no problem. It wasn’t something I got upset about. We just accepted that the male actors would get more than us. But it is alright… And it is pretty much the same now,” Juhi told PTI.
When asked if it is high time, the pay gap should be reduced, the actress said, “Even if I feel that way, I don’t see it going away easily. It won’t go overnight. The only difference is that today’s actors earn more than what we used to get and similarly the future actors will get even more.”
The last few years have seen women-centric films getting prominence with movies like ‘Queen’, ‘Tanu Weds Manu’, ‘Mary Kom’ and ‘Piku’ among others winning big at the box-office. Juhi, who was last seen in female-centric drama ‘Gulab Gang’, however, feels the trend is not new.
“I think you can name a few such films but then 300 movies get made in a year, so, seven-eight will have something substantial for girls to do. It has been happening on and off. During our times also… Maybe I did not do those things, I was more into mainstream stuff but Madhuri did ‘Mrityudand’, Manisha did ‘Khamoshi’.
“So, there have been such movies but the ratio is just 5 per cent, rest are hero-oriented. Actresses like Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi were making their mark then and had substance in their characters. The inequality still exists,” she said. It is perhaps this “dearth” of good scripts that forces Juhi to take long breaks between signing different projects. Also, the actress thinks she cannot “fit” into every role now and there are only certain roles, which she can do.
She will next be seen in ‘Chalk n Duster’, a film highlighting problem of teachers and students. Juhi, who plays a teacher in the movie, said she found its story relevant and engaging. “I really liked the script. I kept reading it through the end and I feel if it kept me engaged it would keep the audience hooked to. The film is about commercialization of education, which I see happening in a lot of places. It is also about how we forget our teachers, who have taught us so much in life.”
Working on ‘Chalk n Duster’ was special for Juhi also because she shared screen space with Shabana Azmi. The actress said she was amazed to see Shabana’s way of working and her observational skills.