By Lochana Sharma
Monday, June 13, 2011
Nepali female actors say that despite a constitutional provision that ensures pay equality for men and women, their earnings are often half that of male counterparts. One star has stopped taking parts in movies for which men are paid more.
KATHMANDU, Nepal (WOMENSENEWS)--Basundhara Bhusal, 55, says she is the oldest living female actress in the Nepali film industry. She has acted in 135 feature films and 60 television series.
But despite her prolific career, she says she hardly earns enough to keep up with directors' wardrobe demands.
"Five years ago, the famous movie director Prakash Thapa scolded me for wearing the same clothes in many movies," she says. "But what did he know? I had to wear the same clothes in a bunch of movies because I didn't have money to buy a new wardrobe for every movie."
Despite a provision in Nepal's Constitution ensuring equal pay for men and women for the same work, Bhusal says gender discrimination is widespread in filmmaking.
"Even today, female actors are paid almost 50 percent less than male actors," she says.
Bhusal says she has been advocating for equal pay among actors since long before the constitutional provision.
Richa Ghimire, one of the most popular female actors in Nepali cinema, says that female actors aren't only paid less than male actors for same amount of work in a film, but that they also earn less when they have larger parts than male actors.
"In my beginning years, despite having a substantially bigger role than that of the actor in the movie, I was paid much less compared to them," she says.
After acting in 21 movies, Ghimire says her pay hasn't increased.
"I was only paid 75,000 rupees [$1,050 USD] for my work while my co-actor Biraj Bhatta was paid 200,000 rupees [$2,790 USD] in the movie 'Giraftaar,'" Ghimire says, providing an example.
Producer-director Chabi Ojha says his wife, Rekha Thapa, is the highest-paid actress in the industry, earning somewhat more than $4,000 for a movie. One of the most popular female actors in the industry, Thapa has appeared in more than 90 movies.
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