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Zeenat Aman opens up on the gender wage gap in Bollywood: Fifty years later we are still fighting…

In her most recent Instagram post, veteran actor Zeenat Aman discussed how while female actors may now have better roles, the gender pay gap has persisted throughout the years.

Zeenat Aman opens up on the gender wage gap in Bollywood: Fifty years later we are still fighting…
Zeenat Aman/Instagram

Last Updated: 10.59 AM, Feb 26, 2023


As the veteran actress continues to post anecdotes from her career, Zeenat Aman's Instagram account has become a hotspot for movie fans. She posted on her page on Saturday to talk about how the gender pay gap hasn't changed over the years, even into the new year. In her time, the actress claimed to be the "highest paid female actor," but the pay gap between her and her male co-stars was so glaring that it was "laughable."

In a video she released, she can be seen practising the tune Laila O Laila from the 1980 hit film Qurbani. A peek of actor Feroz Khan working the camera was also shown in the video. The video was taken during a radio interview for an Australian broadcasting network.

In the video, she told the camera, “90 percent of the time, most of the women here are just playing ornamental roles, purely ornamental. They sing and dance and sort of prance around the leading man. That’s about it. What I feel is happening now is that there are changes coming about.” The veteran actress added that there are women demanding good roles and refusing to work in films: “They want to do something, they demand something, they are getting something to do. I think that’s exciting. I think women in India should have something to identify with, other than just ornamentation,” she added.

With the caption, the actor explained that although a lot has changed in terms of the types of roles written for women since the video was produced 50 years ago, the gender wage disparity has not improved.

“It’s been nearly 50 years since this footage was shot, and the industry has changed immensely since. The roles available to women are clearly not just ornamental anymore. What hasn’t changed though is the gender pay gap. In my time I was lauded as the “highest paid female actor”, but the disparity in the pay cheque between my male co-stars and myself was so vast it was laughable,” she wrote.

She further added, “The Zeenat you see in this clip was quite certain that half a century would be enough time to even the scales. So it disappoints me that even today women in the film industry don’t have wage parity. Women have consistently put in the work, and I really think that the onus is now on our men - actors, directors, producers - to ensure that their female co-workers (not just stars) are paid fairly. It seems such a simple and obvious thing, and yet it would be revolutionary if any man actually did this.”

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