GENDER PAY CHASM

India’s highest-paid female star earns less than half of what her male counterpart does

What a joke.
What a joke.
Image: Reuters/Stephane Mahe
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The gender-based pay gap is a reality across industries in India, but in Bollywood, that gap is yawning.

In this year’s Forbes India Celebrity 100 list, Deepika Padukone is the only woman among the top 10 earners, ranking fourth with Rs112.8 crore ($15.9 million). But even that’s less than half of what was earned by the man who topped the list—Salman Khan, who made Rs253.25 crore. Cricketer Virat Kohli and actor Akshay Kumar follow, with Rs228.09 crore and Rs185 crore, respectively.

The top 10 earners among Indian celebrities

Overall, there are just 18 women in the 2018 Celebrity 100 list, down from 21 last year. This includes other Bollywood actresses such as Alia Bhatt and Anushka Sharma and sportswomen, notably PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal. Though the list also features authors, comedians, and directors, no women in these fields made the cut.

The highest-earning women

A number of actresses, including Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, and Kangana Ranaut, have been speaking out about the gender-based pay gap in Bollywood, but the problem is also particularly dire in sports.

Despite their success at the Olympics and other international competitions, the likes of Mary Kom and Sakshi Malik, for instance, don’t feature anywhere in the Celebrity 100 list. In cricket, the divide is even starker: Earlier this year, the Board of Control for Cricket in India sparked outrage when it revealed that male cricketers’ salaries would be a staggering 14 times higher than the females’. In this year’s Celebrity 100 list, Kohli, captain of the Indian men’s cricket team, and former captain Dhoni are both in the top 10, while Mithali Raj, captain of the Indian women’s cricket team, didn’t make the top 100.

There is a growing awareness of the crisis, but little has changed over time. A comparison of previous Celebrity 100 lists shows that for the most part, there has always been just one woman in the top 10, barring the years 2012 and 2016, when there were two.