Mumbai: Actress Shabana Azmi feels male actors in Bollywood should consider playing secondary character to female actors in movies. Azmi said as many heroines are happy to be playing second fiddle to a hero, the same gesture should be reciprocated to make women-oriented cinema more viable.
“I think for women centred films to become even more viable, and be able to expand their budget, it’s time the big male stars also once in a while work in a role that is secondary as compared to the girl. This is something we need to encourage,” Azmi told PTI. “Because so many girls, who are very important in their own right, are quite happy sometimes to also be playing second fiddle to the man, so why shouldn’t that gesture be reciprocated. I think it’ll lead to a healthy atmosphere.”
The 65—year—old actor, who last year worked in the Aishwarya Rai Bachchan-starrer Jazbaa and will be next seen with Sonam Kapoor in Neerja, believes actresses today are making brave choices in their roles. “The girls are particularly making brave choices. It is absolutely wonderful. Look at what Vidya Balan, Deepika, Priyanka, Kangana, have done. Completely unconventional roles. They are willing to make the sacrifice that was required.”
Azmi said women are “willing” to take a cut in their pay cheque too if required. “Now what is happening is that when you work in a film which doesn’t have a big mainstream hero then you have to have to take a cut in your pay cheque. And they’re willing to do that. And that’s very good,” she said. On Bollywood’s focus on box office numbers and constant buzz surrounding ‘Rs 100 crore club’, the Masoom actor says that chasing box-office figures can be pressurising for an actor but is something that can be controlled if the male star lowers his remuneration.“Box office is definitely a pressure. But it is not artificial because it depends on the budget. Not all films need to make 100 crore for them to be successful. It really is in proportion to the budget of the film. If an actor is going to charge the moon then he better guarantee that he is going to return that money.”
Citing an example of filmmaker actor Raj Kapoor, Azmi said an actor lowering his fees is in the best interest of the film. “Look at directors like Raj Kapoor in the past. If they made a film which didn’t meet the box office expectations then in the next film they took a huge cut from the distributor. Because you have to guard the health of your career, and industry,” she said. Commenting on the issue of pay inequality in the film industry, Azmi said it is the male star who brings in the money so they should also help female actors by working in women-oriented cinema. “Pay inequality is completely determined by the fact that it is the male actor who brings in the money. Plain and simple. And that’s why I am saying once in a while they should give a lift to a woman-centred film by agreeing to do it just the way the women do. That would be healthy.”