Bollywood, please stop being gold diggers

These are not isolated cases of one or the other A-lister determined to milk every penny out of the producers. A majority of the actors behave this way.

Subhash K Jha September 18, 2022 06:07:16 IST
Bollywood, please stop being gold diggers

We won’t take names here. But there are horror stories about Bollywood superstars and their avaricious ways on the sets and on location. One of the A-listers, known for his intensity and his super-hero franchise even makes the producer pay for his chewing gum on the sets. Another one who is married to a female superstar, orders 4-5 different cuisine for lunch, eats a bit and then takes the rest home.

A leading producer-director with a no-nonsense attitude reveals the A-list actors to be the biggest tantrum throwers. “They charge anything from 90 crores to 180 crores. That’s their basic fee. And it’s still not enough. The producer has to pay their petrol money daily and pay the fees for their driver and makeup person. Even chewing gum and cigarettes are charged to production.”

These are not isolated cases of one or the other A-lister determined to milk every penny out of the producers. A majority of the actors behave this way.

“Even those who bring their ghar ka dabba sometimes order expensive Chinese or Thai fod which they take home. God knows what they do with it,” a production controller reveals.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui tells me about star tantrums. “We used to hear of Rajesh Khanna and Raj Kumar coming late. But aaj ke superstars koi kam nahin hain (today’s superstars are equally inconsiderate).”

Among the three Khan superstars, two of them are known to be punctual, considerate and very particular about their expenses. A third one is well-known for his notorious late-coming. This Khan comes for a 9 am shift at 1 pm. He then has lunch with his cronies, takes a nap. The first shot is taken with this superstar at around 5 pm only. After a few shots, he shouts pack up.

How do films get made under such hostile conditions? Where is that spirit of teamwork that actors in the past shared? Superstars were known to work free of cost. Amitabh Bachchan didn’t charge a penny for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black. Temperamental as he was known to be, mega-superstar Rajesh Khanna was known to bring his price down at the peak of his stardom for needy producers.

Among present-day A-listers who was the last one to bring down his price for a cash-strapped producer?

Starry high-handedness brought the Telugu film industry to its knee. All work came to standstill on August 1. Now the Telugu industry has reopened. But stars have been issued a clear guideline about cost cutting.

The Telugu Film Producers’ Council citing increasing production costs after the pandemic, said “All artists’ remunerations shall include staff, local transport, local accommodation, special food, etc. The amount to be finalised by the producer on a role/film basis. The producer should not directly pay any amount related to artists except the agreed amount to the artists themselves.”

A similar guideline must be activated in Bollywood before it’s too late. While Rome burns, the Neros fiddle.

Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at @SubhashK_Jha.

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