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Rasika Dugal: Very hard to say if you’re being discriminated, facing pay gap based on your gender

Actor Rasika Dugal feels the hush-hush nature of discrimination makes it difficult to call out pay disparity, but thanks to OTT platforms for better roles.
Rasika Dugal: Very hard to say if you’re being discriminated, facing pay gap based on your gender
Actor Rasika Dugal has to her credit OTT projects such as Mirzapur, Out of Love, A Suitable Boy, Lootcase and Delhi Crime.
  • Sugandha Rawal

  • Hindustan Times

Last Updated: 08.06 PM, Sep 24, 2021

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For many, the growth of OTT space has brought along a sense of equality in terms of the opportunity and visibility, but what remains to be seen is whether it has also rectified the skewed pay structure or not. However, actor Rasika Dugal says finding an answer to that isn’t that simple.

“I always find it hard answering whether the OTT space has ushered in pay equality. I’ve always heard that there’s a disparity in what people are paid, but I have no idea what people around me are being paid,” Dugal tells us.

The 36-year-old elaborates, “That’s not the information which many people have access to. And in fact, every project is also priced differently. I might have one or two friends, who I know how much they charge. But their projects are set up differently than the ones that I might be doing. So, it’s very hard to compare.”

Apart from the different nature of projects and their pays, and lack of transparency, the issue is also veiled by discrimination.

“You never know whether you’re being discriminated against. You can never pinpoint if you’re getting paid less because you’re a woman, or if you’re facing pay parity because of gender. The difficult thing about discrimination is that it’s so subtle, and hence, it’s hard to fight it,” says the actor.

A FAIR PRICE

Over the years, Dugal has found recognition while navigating the OTT zone, from the role of a cop in Delhi Crime to the feisty Bina Tripathi in Mirzapur series to the conflicted married woman in Out Of Love to understanding Savita in A Suitable Boy.

However, gaining recognition does not always make it easier to quote the fee one deserves, feels the actor.

“It’s very hard to put a price on what I do,” she is quick to note, and elaborates, “It’s sort of investing yourself wholeheartedly in something. Being paid is a part of what I expect to receive out of the work, but there are so many other things involved. Like what it takes out of me or what it teaches me,” she adds.

And she also asserts that it’s one of the “hard and beautiful things about the industry”.

THEN AND NOT

Starting her career from projects such as Tahaan and Murder 2, Dugal has certainly come a long way, and she admits she couldn’t have asked to be an actor at a better time, and gives all the credit to the boom of the digital space.

She still remembers when she used to carry a DVD of her film, Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost, in her purse, and offer it to everyone she used to meet.

“Earlier, distribution was a bottleneck. Aap apni picture bana toh lete the lekin marketing ka budget nahi hota tha. And then it’d never be able to compete with a bigger film for screens. The bigger film would swallow up all the other screens available to you. OTT broke that bottleneck,” she says.

Looking back, she says today, projects have a life beyond the theatre. “I remember, Qissa released in just three theatres in Mumbai, and soon got off the screens. I used to walk around with its DVD just because I wanted people to watch my film. Now, thanks to streaming platforms a film can be watched later, whenever anybody gets to know about it,” shares Dugal.

AND THE CREDIT GOES TO...

The actor feels writers have scripted this change in the entertainment space, by writing more real characters for women.

“A couple of years back, women characters were being written just as an act of tokenism, hoping it would become more real. And now, the characters are very nuanced. They are actually celebrating femininity and not feeling the need to be masculine in any way. And it is very encouraging for an actor,” says the Manto (2018) actor, who has started working on her next projects, but is not allowed to divulge anything about it.

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