Why aren’t women on top?

THE USUAL suspects —The Chopras, Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Hrithik Roshan and Salman Khan, comprise the top five, while Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Rani Mukerji have managed to clinch the number eight and nine positions respectively.

In fact, with Ash’s inclusion, this year’s list actually looks better for Bollywood gals in terms of representation (only Rani made it to the list last year, but was number five).

The list was put together based on several criteria: box office draw, ability to raise funds for projects, ability to generate wealth for others, financial stakes vested or invested by the individual, and whether work is done on the star’s own terms.

Which would explain why Shah Rukh Khan (who scored big with Chak De! India and Om Shanti Om) and new entrant Akshay Kumar (with four big ones in 2007 —Heyy Babyy, Namastey London, Bhool Bhulaiyya and Welcome) made the cut.

But delivering a string of hits doesn’t guarantee inclusion. Despite four flops last year —Ta Ra Rum Pum, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and Aaja Nachle —Yash and Aditya Chopra have held on to the top spot solely because of Chak De!

The same can be said of Rani, except that she didn’t have a single a hit in 2007, with Saawariya, Laaga and TRRP all tanking at the BO. And it isn’t Ash’s film career that heralded her return to the list, but her high-profile wedding and marriage. But Kareena Kapoor, who was frequently featured in the glossies last year because of her split with Shahid Kapoor, hook-up with Saif Ali Khan, and performance in Jab We Met, hasn’t made it to the list (though she figures at number 3 in the woman power list).

And the success of OSO didn’t guarantee Farah Khan or Deepika Padukone a spot in the comprehensive power list either (though Farah is the eighth most powerful director in B-Town and Deepika the seventh most powerful actress). Why does Bollywood’s female contingent not seem powerful or bankable enough?

Trade analyst and film critic Taran Adarsh puts it down to the fact that in Bollywood, women don’t branch out into more than one field, preferring to stick to only acting. “In India, men generally become producers and in some cases, distributors. That’s why the turnover is huge and they’re more likely to make it into the power bracket. But that’s not the case with our female stars. Even today, it’s a male-dominated industry. You’ll hear of an actor recommending an actress for a role, but it doesn’t work the other way around. A male actor dictates the cast,” he says.

And this might be the reason that not many women directors have really made a mark in the industry commercially, says Anil Nagrath, secretary, Indian Motion Picture Producers Association. “No one other than Farah Khan, and she deserves to be on that list,” he says. Anil also feels the list doesn’t represent all of showbiz. “It’s just Bollywood and not television, which has many powerful women. If the list included TV, I’m sure Ekta Kapoor would have made it,” he adds.

This one’s for the taxman

FILMMAKER YASH Chopra was recently hailed as the most powerful man in Hindi cinema.

Unassuming and humble, he was asked about Budget 2008. “I don’t know what it’s going to be. But, I do hope they take the entertainment industry into consideration.

The amount of taxes imposed on production houses is tough to bear, and leaves little profit for filmmakers. This is extremely disappointing. We need to encourage people to make more films, but when there is hardly anything you get in return, it often becomes a losing proposition.

Also, not all films work. That makes matters worse. I have more people working in my accounts department than on the films I am making. That’s the scene. The paperwork is endless.” Let’s hope there’s an end to this ‘endless’ madness soon.

More news from City Times