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Prosper – Seema June 2023

Jun/03/2023 / by Team Seema

Priyanka Chopra (Finally) Earns Equal Pay

The Citadel actress speaks out about getting paid the same as her male co star for the first time in 22 years

Despite being a blockbuster star who started her film career in Bollywood two decades ago, Priyanka Chopra Jonas has struggled to earn as much as her male co-stars over the years. With her turn as a superspy agent in Citadel, now airing on Amazon Prime, she finally earned what she asked for. 

“I’ve been working in the entertainment industry for 22 years, and I have done almost 70-plus features and two TV shows. But when I did Citadel, it was the first time in my career that I had pay parity,” she said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter at South by Southwest. 

Priyanka
Image credits: Gettyimages

Chopra Jonas credits having a woman at the helm of Amazon Prime for getting her paid fairly. “I wonder if the head of the studio was not female, would this have been a different conversation? Would it have been a conversation?” she asked. She remembers telling her agents that they could ask for equal pay, but it wasn’t likely to happen based on her experience in the industry. But Jennifer Salke, Amazon Prime’s head of film and TV, surprisingly responded, “That’s what you deserve, you are co-leads. It’s only fair.” 

Since then, Chopra Jonas has received pay equity in her other productions. “After Citadel, every job I have done where I’m the co-lead, I’ve gotten parity. So it did change my life,” she said. “Women have to be in decision-making roles because it changes other women’s lives.”

A Big Opportunity for Women

India surpasses China for most populous country, but women remain underrepresented in work and public life

In April 2023, India surpassed China as the most populous country on Earth—topping 1.425 billion people. The demographic change promises to reshape geopolitical politics around the world, but in order to do so, women will need to be more integrated into education and public life in India. 

Though women make up half the growing population, the number of working women has actually fallen to record lows in recent years. Peaking at 31% in 2000, the number of women who work outside the home has fallen to just 21% in 2018. This is in part due to still lingering patriarchal beliefs that expect women to be primary caregivers. While women across the world still spend three times more hours on unpaid care work than men, Indian women spend eight times more unpaid hours on that work. 

But by improving access to education and public safety and working to change patriarchal attitudes, gender-inclusive policies could give more women the opportunities to take on professional roles, which could boost both India’s productivity as a country and improve women’s individual lives. 

“In terms of education, employment, digital access and various other parameters, girls and women do not have equal access to life-empowering tools and means as the boys and men have,” said Poonam Muttreja, the executive director of the Population Foundation of India in an interview with The New York Times. “This needs to change for India to truly reap the demographic dividend.”

India could add $550bn to its gross domestic product by increasing labor force participation by women by just 10%.

[This is from NYT, could include a similar chart:] 

Kalki Koechlin’s Next Act

Why the French actress is drawn to unconventional projects 

Born in India to French parents, Kalki Koechlin has been a part of the Indian film industry for over a decade. Her career has spanned both mainstream Bollywood and off-beat cinema. While she has seen success in mainstream blockbuster and multi-starrer films like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, her most satisfying and best roles have been in parallel cinema like Margarita with a Straw for which she won the coveted Indian National Award. 

Kalki Koechlin

In the film Goldfish, recently screened at the NYIFF, Kalki plays a character that is dealing with her mother’s dementia. She spoke to SEEMA about what draws her to such realistic roles and her experience and lessons learnt in showbiz. 

What draws you to such human and realistic stories – like a person with cerebral palsy in Margarita with a Straw and now Goldfish – a film dealing with dementia?

These are the stories that make us get up in the morning. The ones that remind us of our own problems, our relationships, our loved ones, and the fact that people are being everyday ordinary heroes all the time.

You have had mega success in mainstream Hindi cinema, why opt for web series and independent films?

You don’t always know what becomes a mega success just like you don’t know what movie will have a long shelf life. Careers are short in this field and we must enjoy as much of it as we can. Explore, experiment and astonish.

What are the projects you’re working on now?

Kho Gaye Hum Kahin which is a Tigerbaby production, and season two of Made in Heaven. I’m also working on a production of a one-woman show I’m doing on motherhood called I’m OK.

Does the Hindi film industry treat its actresses better than when you started?

More women are working in the industry as camerawomen, filmmakers, writers, etc., so the gaze is changing. I feel more comfortable on sets and to voice my concerns. However there are exceptions and I never stop feeling that my age or my looks are more important to people than my talent. The payment sucks, when compared to my male colleagues, quite honestly. 

What are the things you like about working in Bollywood?

What fills me with a warm feeling is the understanding that Bollywood feeds so many mouths, employs so many rebels and vagabonds of society, and provides hope for so many artists and dreamers.

PQs

“Bollywood feeds so many mouths, employs so many rebels and vagabonds of society, and provides hope for so many artists and dreamers.”

Seema

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