Actors, and especially movie stars, are fragile creatures. They’re not used to hearing the word ‘no’ in response to outrageous demands, and disagreeing with a star on the smallest of matters could very easily get you on their wrong side, or worse still pit you as the enemy.
Yet, someone’s got to have the tough conversations. Tact is highly recommended. Blunt rejections and firm put-downs from producers ought to be strictly avoided. Take it from someone who works closely with them—here are a few lines no movie star wants to hear…
“We’re going with someone younger”
In an industry where youth is currency, there’s literally nothing more cruel you can say to an actor. But because Bollywood is both ageist and sexist, this is a prejudice faced almost exclusively by female actors. At 56, Salman Khan can still get Disha Patani and Pooja Hegde to play his love interests. But Sonakshi Sinha (35) is considered “too old” to be cast opposite Varun Dhawan or Sidharth Malhotra (both 35).
“We need to scale up”
This is usually code for “we need a bigger star”. While rejecting a good actor who’d be right for the part but doesn’t have ‘momentum’ or ‘viability’, producers will frequently remind you that “it’s called show business for a reason”. Big names promise more bums on seats, and, like it or not, that’s the only argument that holds any water in this business.
It’s why Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar are cast as a pair of real-life shooters in their sixties, even though Bollywood has a long roster of incredible senior actresses who might feel more authentic in those parts.
“Our budgets are tight”
Even the biggest banners will share this disclaimer when it’s time to negotiate an actor’s fee. This way the actor and his team already know it’s going to be a struggle to get paid fairly. And you thought the battle was won when you landed the role. Ha!
To be fair, the problem isn’t that producers want to run a tight ship. The problem is they’ll still pay an A-lister a monstrous fee but will insist on cutting corners when it comes to the rest of the cast.