tv & movies

Lara Dutta on pay disparity in Bollywood: I am being paid better than I was 10-15 years back

Actor Lara Dutta talks about playing the bold role of Vasu in her latest web show Hiccups and Hookups. She also discusses the gender-based pay disparity and age factor in Bollywood.

The trailer of Hiccups and Hookups, which featured Lara Dutta as single mother Vasu who is rediscovering life at 40 by indulging in some sexual adventures, made fans sit up and take notice. Recently, the Miss Universe 2000 spoke to indianexpress.com and confessed that she had her own set of inhibitions about the character. However, once the actor had a heart-to-heart conversation with director Kunal Kohli, she was at ease.

“Over the years, what I have learnt from my craft is to be clear about what I am comfortable with, what works for me and what doesn’t. I also know how willing I am about pushing the envelope in order to embrace a new character or project. When I was approached for this show, I was really intrigued by the idea. It was a fantastic opportunity to have a 40 something play the central character in such a big show being created by Lionsgate. It’s about a single mother who is rediscovering herself post the hiccups in her life. I did have my apprehension in a broad sense of how her character was moving ahead in the tale. And I had an honest conversation with Kunal about it. I am thankful that he was so welcoming and entertained me. Both of us did feel that we could work around the issues I had before I came on board. Once I had the assurance that I had an equal say on which way the character will go, I was all in. I think that confidence the makers had to make this as much my project as theirs was just amazing,” Lara Dutta said.

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The actor made her digital debut last year with Hundred, where she played a cop. Recently, her performance in Call My Agent was also much appreciated. When we quizzed her if the web space is giving her the roles that Bollywood failed to offer over the last few years, Lara smiled to say, “Absolutely, I think this is the best time for me. I am having more fun and finally getting the kind of roles and projects I always wanted. I didn’t come to the industry to become the top star or get into the number game. I wanted to be an actor, and now I am finally getting to do that.”

Lara Dutta further opened up about the pay disparity in the industry. The actor said that she has seen some ‘fantastic changes’ in the last couple of years, and things have now become much better for women. “I think not just actors, but there are a lot more female technicians, directors, producers and even writers, who have all fought the disparity. And the change is happening for the ones who have managed to create a demand for themselves. From my experience, I can say that I am getting paid better than I was 10-15 years back.”

While older heroes continue to romance younger female stars in films, roles for 35-plus women are still scarce in Bollywood. Responding to the same, the Andaz actor said with a smirk, “The trend of older heroes paired with younger heroines still exists. Hopefully, common sense will prevail soon. I think things are changing but slowly. Actresses in their 30s were considered gharelu and not sexy, and I think that perception is also now changing. The writing has gotten better and fab roles are now written for women. And it’s also because a lot of females are now penning stories and thus it’s more nuanced and layered. I have been reading some amazing content, and hoping we can rewrite the trend soon.”

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Lastly, given the show deals with dating apps and hookups, we asked Lara to share her opinion on new-age dating. “Well, I am past the prime of apps so thankfully I can’t say I missed out. It never existed in our times. However, I don’t mind them or have a problem as it’s a great way for people to connect. It has allowed younger people to have a choice and expand their playing field. And not just romance, they have even met friends for life on these apps, who have stuck around longer than any romantic relationship,” the model-actor said.

Hiccups and Hookups, also starring Prateik Babbar and Shinnova, is streaming on Lionsgate Play.

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