Apart from their regular acting fees, Bollywood actors are looking at different revenue models to increase their income from movies they’re a part of. In the co-production model, actors themselves get into the production of the film: They often charge less than their market rate, and get a share of the profits the film goes on to make. Studios are obliging them, as it cuts costs and reduces risks. Partnerships have taken on different forms, as even young Bollywood actors, including Abhay Deol and Anushka Sharma, are turning co-producers. Deals are often complex and not very clearly spelt out.Plain Vanilla: Fixed fees
This is the traditional mode of payment, now used to pay most of the film’s cast, except the stars. Actor fees contribute to almost 35 percent of the cost of big-budget films, with the big stars charging Rs 30-40 crore per film. However, very few rely on this model, preferring to take a share of risks and revenues. Among A-list actors who prefer this model are Deepika Padukone. She told Forbes India that she focuses on her work in front of the camera.
The trodden path: Through the history of Indian cinema, big actors have had their own production houses and studios. Names included RK Films and Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd (ABCL).
The old model has evolved, with companies like Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, and Aamir Khan Productions structuring complex co-production deals. Usually, the films are produced in partnership with big studios like UTV or Eros. A-list actors work for a (lower than usual) fee, plus a share of profits. Akshay Kumar is known to insist on profits from the Punjab territory. Others have similar deals for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.Second Production House
Some actors have more than one production venture, mostly to make non-mainstream movies. Akshay Kumar’s Hari Om Productions has co-produced a dozen films, including a documentary on global warming, since 2008. His other production company Grazing Goat Pictures—it focuses on Hindi and regional cinema—made a Punjabi film Bhaji in Problem this year. Salman Khan, who normally works with brothers Sohail and Arbaaz Khan’s production companies, has Being Human Productions which produced Chillar Party in 2011. Salman is going down the tested path next year with his own banner Salman Khan Productions. Ajay Devgn has Ajay Devgn Productions and Shivalaya Entertainment (which will make films for the international market).
(This story appears in the 27 December, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)