Priyanka Chopra was paid 10 per cent of her male co-star's salary in Bollywood

The actress and producer was a massive star in India before she made her international debut

Priyanka Chopra has sparked renewed discussions about pay disparity. Getty Images
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Before she became a massive global star, Priyanka Chopra Jonas was one of the highest-paid Bollywood celebrities.

But the actress, producer and entrepreneur has sparked renewed discussions about pay disparity after revealing that even during her heyday in India, she only earned 10 per cent of her male co-star's salary.

"I've never had pay parity in Bollywood. [The pay gap] is large, substantially large. And so many women still deal with that. I'm sure I will too if I worked with a male co-actor now in Bollywood," she recently told BBC in an interview.

"My generation of female actors have definitely asked [for equal pay]. We've asked, but we've not got it."

The interview was conducted as part of the annual BBC 100 Women list for 2022, a compilation of inspiring and influential women from around the world. Included in the list this year along with Chopra Jonas are global music phenomenon Billie Eilish, Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska, actress Selma Blair, Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi and Ghanaian author Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah.

Chopra Jonas, who became an international star after being cast in the hit US series Quantico in 2015, has only appeared in two Hindi films since, the last one being the 2019 film The Sky is Pink, which she also produced.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas played the lead in the hit show Quantico. Photo: ABC

She made her Bollywood debut in 2003 with The Hero: Love Story of a Spy, following her Miss World win in 2000, and has since appeared in more than 60 films, many of them alongside some of India's biggest stars.

Chopra Jonas, who has starred in a number of Hollywood films, including Baywatch, Isn't it Romantic and The Matrix Resurrections, says for the first time in her 22-year career, she's being given equal pay to her male co-actor. She is set to star in the Amazon science fiction series, Citadel, directed by Anthony and Joseph Russo. The show, one of the most expensive ever, also stars Richard Madden and Stanley Tucci.

"Well, the first time it's happened to me, it has happened in Hollywood. So I don't know going forward. Because this was my first show with a male actor as a co-lead," Chopra Jonas told the BBC.

While female actors in Hollywood have long spoken about the need for pay parity, the gap is believed to be particularly wide in India's film industry. According to Yahoo! Finance, top earner Akshay Kumar reportedly charges close to 1.3 billion rupees ($15.7 million) for a film while one of the highest-paid actresses, Deepika Padukone, is said to charge 150 million rupees ($1.8 million) per movie.

The World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index for 2022 ranks India at 135 out of 146 countries.

“If a female actor asks more, she is termed difficult and problematic and if a man asks more, it’s a mark of his success. Difference is, the men who started with me earn three to five times more than what I do. And the gap keeps increasing as we go in higher star category," Bollywood actress Taapsee Pannu told The National Bulletin last year.

In the BBC interview, Chopra Jonas also spoke about deep-rooted patriarchy in the industry.

"I thought it was absolutely OK to sit for hours and hours on set, while my male co-actor just took his own time, and decided whenever he wanted to show up on set is when we would shoot," she said.

Chopra Jonas married singer and actor Nick Jonas in 2018. The couple share a daughter, Malti Marie Chopra Jonas, who was born in January via surrogacy. Besides acting in and producing films, Chopra Jonas is also a serial investor with interests in a number of tech start-ups, including the dating app Bumble. Last year, she launched her haircare line Anomaly and opened Indian restaurant Sona in Manhattan.

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Updated: December 07, 2022, 1:44 PM
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