Superstar Aamir Khan, rated among the highest paid actors in Bollywood, feels that artistes in the entertainment industry are paid on the basis of their fan following and not gender.
Aamir will next be seen playing a supporting role in "Secret Superstar", based the life of a teenage girl named Insia, played by Zaira Wasim, who sets out to follow her dream of being a singing superstar under the confinement of anonymity.
Asked whether Zaira was paid more than him considering she is the protagonist of the film, Aamir told reporters here on Wednesday: "I probably wouldn't have a smaller pay cheque (than Zaira Wasim) because I don't take money upfront.
"In films, there are two levels of payments that we have. One is for the work that you are doing. What I am doing is equal to any other actor. They all should be paid the same amount. Similarly, I feel technicians should be paid equal to actors."
Aamir, who has broken various records at the box office through the mammoth collections of his films like "PK" and "Dangal", added: "The other aspect is that there are just two or three people in the team (of a film) who can pull people in the theatres. The others can't do the same. That's what we describe as stardom."
"That could be Salim-Javed as writers or A.R. Rahman as music director or anyone. Anyone who has the ability to pull the crowd in theatres deserves bigger share of money. The day when Zaira will be able to attract audiences to theatres more than me, there's no doubt she will be paid more. That's not going to be determined on the basis of sex."
He said as a producer, "it does not matter to me if you are male or female or an animal. But, if you benefit me as a producer I am ready to pay you more".
Aamir said that has not been charging a fee for his films for a long time now and is the last person who gets his share of remuneration.
"I don't charge a fee. I haven't charged a fee for the last 10 films. Fortunately, all my films have been done well, if they don't do well than I am the one who is hit. I am the last one to be paid after the producer, investors and if there is profit then I get a share of it," he said.
However, Aamir said it's because of the patriarchal mindset of the society that actors have more followers and hence are getting paid more than actresses.
"Unfortunately, what has happened is that most of us stars are males. The people who attract more people to theatres are males. Why male stars get paid more is because of the patriarchal society. Because as kids, whatever stories we have heard, have seen boys as heroes and saviours.
"So that has been planted in our heads that boys are heroes and not girls. To change that, it requires a paradigm shift in the minds of people," he added.
Aamir thinks there is no gender inequality in the film industry. "I feel industry doesn't differentiate on the basis of gender. If we look at a film crew we will see a lot of women doing important jobs."
"My wife (Kiran Rao) is a director, Reema Kagti and Farah Khan are also there and they are not looked at any differently from a male director. Their gender is not important. We have equal status, in terms of gender, when it comes to a film crew," he said.
Directed by Advait Chandan, "Secret Superstar" is slated to release on October 19.