18 Mar, 2008 09:22 am ISTlGaurav Malani and Reshma Kelkar/INDIATIMES MOVIES
We often keep reading on which actor is at the No.1 spot in Bollywood but hardly do we read on actresses being on the list. Thatâ€™s primarily because in male-dominated Bollywood, female stars are always paid less than their male counterparts. But in the current scenario even the leading ladies are quoting in crores thanks to the corporate invasion. However, only a handful of actresses enjoy this privilege. So the next question obviously is who is at the Numero-Uno position amongst all these actresses? No, itâ€™s not Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukherjee or Preity Zinta. Kareena Kapoor quotes the highest fee today!
Kareena Kapoor always had a decent standing in the industry ever since she debuted with Refugee in 2000. Despite her hits and misses at the box-office, she never went off the scene. According to trade circles, till a couple of years back she used to charge anywhere between Rs 70 â€“ 90 lakhs for her films, which was a decent enough figure for any Bollywood actress then. Her fees hiked up post Omkara, when she entered the crore bracket.
In fact, much before Omkara , Harry Baweja had already signed Kareena for a whopping Rs 2.25 crores for his futuristic film Love Story 2050 , but subsequently Bebo opted out of the project.
But today, post the success of Jab We Met , which also won Kareena a couple of awards and loads of laurels, producers are willing to pay her a few more crores. If reports are to be believed Kareena has cracked a Rs 3.5 crore deal with a production house for one film with John Abraham to be directed by Rumi Jaffrey. This makes her the highest paid actress in Bollywood today, one step above Aishwarya Rai who gets Rs 3 crore for a film.
But how did Bebo beat the heavy competition? â€œWith age catching up on her colleagues like Rani Mukherjee and Preity Zinta and their films not doing that well at the box-office, Kareena becomes the natural choiceâ€, says trade analyst Atul Kumar Sharma. â€œMoreover Rani and Preity have mostly restricted themselves to the SRK-Chopra-Johar banners while Kareena is more open. If one goes to see Kareena is perhaps the only star of the current lot to have worked with a diverse range of directors like Mani Ratnam, Abbas Mastan, Vishal Bhardwaj, Priyadarshan, Farhan Akhtar, Dharmesh Darshan to J P Dutta. At the same time she took the risk of working in offbeat films like Chameli and Dev â€.
But what about her biggest competitor Aishwarya Rai? Another trade expert says, â€œAishwaryaâ€™s market value dropped post her marriage. Producers still believe in the ancient Bollywood myth that once an actress gets married, her fan-following diminishes. Moreover post her marriage, Aishwarya became all the more cautious about selecting her films. She had to maintain the respectable image of being a Bachchan bahu â€. If one remembers, the much-talked about smooch between Aishwarya and Hrithik from Dhoom 2 , was deleted from the prints a few weeks after its release when the Bachchans specially requested the Chopras to do so since she was soon to be their family member.
So Aishwarya is losing out on Dhoom 2 kinda roles much to Kareenaâ€™s advantage.
Recently the most spoken about aspect about Kareena has been her love life. Apart from Jab We Met , all the films that she did with her ex-boyfriend Shahid Kapoor ( Fida, 36 China Town, Chup Chup Ke ) failed to work. One film Milenge Milenge is still in the cans. But perhaps this time Kareena plans to play â€˜Saifâ€™…. oops safe… and only cement her brand value in association with current love Saif Ali Khan. The couple will soon be seen in promising projects like Tashan and Roadside Romeo and have also signed up for Agent Vinod and Karan Joharâ€™s next.
Saif has openly expressed his desire to work with Kareena more often. So the producers are trying to cash on their real-life chemistry and translate it effortlessly to reel life. This includes not just the filmmakers but also ad directors. In fact producers are now trying to sign them together as a package deal. The recent example being that of LG, who approached Saif-Bebo for their brand endorsement, when their talks with Abhi-Ash fell through. If everything goes fine we shall soon see the duo together on the small screen, perhaps even before the big screen.
Today Kareena has a 3-film deal with Asthavinayak Films and has also cracked one with Studio 18. Her future lineup can make anyone envious with films like Tashan, Golmaal Returns , Sajid Nadiadwala’s Ishq Kameena , Mani Ratnam’s next and UTVâ€™s Main Aur Mrs Khanna on her list. Also her endorsement list is endless with brands like Globus, Anne French, Emami, ICI Paints, Vivel of ITC soaps, Head & Shoulders, Boro Plus cream, Citizen Watch, Perfume and a Jeans line.