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Home Entertainment Star fees over Rs 100 cr, demands for multiple vanity vans, entourage cost of Rs 20 lakh per day: As Bollywood biggies bomb, focus on actors’ overhead costs

Star fees over Rs 100 cr, demands for multiple vanity vans, entourage cost of Rs 20 lakh per day: As Bollywood biggies bomb, focus on actors’ overhead costs

Currently the spotlight is on exorbitant entourage costs of actors and outrageous demands -- having a burger delivered in the middle of a jungle or a star demanding his entire family travels on international schedules, be housed in palatial villas.

by Tunae
As big films bomb, Bollywood battles a crisis: of overhead costs.As big films bomb, Bollywood battles a crisis: of overhead costs. (Photo: PR handouts)

After surpassing every possible movie making obstacle, a Bollywood producer gears up for the final leg of his film release– the promotions. Their star has agreed for a day-long media marathon. The maker has agreed, as per the contract, to pay for the staff of the said star. A lot of money is riding on the film. But at the end of the day, the stylist of the star hands over their bill of Rs 2 lakhs, twice the amount that was agreed upon, to the producer. What went wrong? A simple dress change by the star.

“Because the star changed two outfits, the charge went from Rs 1 lakh a day! Sometimes all that is a producer is praying for, is to keep these additional costs in check,” revealed an industry source as tried finding out what is currently ailing the Hindi film industry.

There is an increased demand of an urgent re-look at the functioning of the industry, where blame lies across all departments of movie making. Producers have been called out for setting a dangerous trend of offering buy-one-get-one ticket schemes to the audience and also for breeding and empowering paid trade influencers, which have cast a massive credibility cloud on the industry.

But there is also something else that is plaguing Bollywood for a long time– star fees and the ever-increasing overhead costs. With the recent big scale failures of Ajay Devgn’s Maidaan and Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff’s Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, there is a sharper focus to set things right, as films in production battle staggering increase in costs, while those announced are either getting shelved or are being sent back to stage one to revise their budgets.

How overhead costs of stars run into crores spoke to multiple industry sources to find out what exactly is happening behind the scenes, and how they are affecting the way movies are made and released. “It is absolute chaos, and one that everyone is silently talking about. Every producer is calling his trusted people and venting. There is trouble in paradise,” a source shared.

Festive offerThe case for star fees, and the need to keep them in check, has been an ongoing battle that has been widely reported. In a 2022 report, did a deep dive of star fees structure going through a reshuffle post pandemic. As things got back on track, so did the old ways. When a star is signed for a film, they come on board for a quoted price, that is exclusive of the fees of their staff, which amounts to the overhead cost, borne entirely by the producer. The entourage includes hair and makeup, stylists, spot boy, manager, sometimes even bouncers.

Akshay Kumar, Tiger Shroff in Bade Miyan Chote Miyan Akshay Kumar, Tiger Shroff in Bade Miyan Chote Miyan.

How star management agencies add to the cost

Earlier, a producer and director would approach an actor for a script they feel the star would be perfect for. The star would then quote a figure, which would be agreed upon after negotiations. While the trajectory remains mostly the same, there is a slight addition: the inclusion of the star’s management agency.

“Even if the star has an equation with the makers, often they involve the agency for the commercials. They negotiate the financials at a rate higher than the market value, because they need to take their cut. So, if an actor’s market value is Rs 25 cr, they will quote Rs 30 cr from the producer. So, the overhead cost begins right from the signing stage, even before a single frame has been shot,” explained a source, adding that a management agency taking their share is fair only when they get the said project to the star, not the other way around.

In the good old times of making films, the entourage cost was taken care by the stars themselves. So, whatever their fees, a percentage of that they would themselves pay to their talent and staff. Now, if a star quotes Rs 25 cr, that amount is exclusively for them, with additional cost of staff different.

Rs 25,000 per day for a spot boy, multiple vanity vans and food trucks

The price breakup for the entourage of a star varies, but on average, a spot boy would charge Rs 25,000 per day, personal security would charge Rs 15,000 per head per day, a stylist can charge up to Rs 1 lakhs. Add to it the external expenses– demanding multiple vanity vans, food trucks and personal chefs.

“Producers give one vanity van to actors, but some have started to demand multiple vanity vans. The excuse is, Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn also have two vanity vans. The comparison is directly with those who have been here for decades and have in fact proven their might at the box office over decades,” shared a source.

The vanity van menace is not a domain only the male stars are flexing their muscles in, but also an upcoming female star, with no box office hits to her credit, who stumped a producer by demanding two vans for herself.  The demand can be made, an industry source shared, but the math doesn’t add.

Overhead cost of a star can be Rs 20-22 lakh per day

“The vanity has a cost of Rs 50,000 per day. Now a vanity comes with a generator, a driver, so that cost is also there. Nowadays actors also demand food trucks, where a designated chef will cook for them. So that cost is again bourn by the producers. The overhead cost of a star amounts to Rs 20-22 lakhs per day. If a film is shot for 70 days, the overhead cost only for the male and female star would be around Rs 15-20 cr, which doesn’t even reflect anywhere on the screen,” the source shared.

A producer shared that the math doesn’t add when one examines the returns. If a star is signed at Rs 25 cr, then the makers spend an additional Rs 15 cr on the entourage cost, the total adds to Rs 40 cr just for this. To recover the additional Rs 15 cr, the film then needs to haven an opening of more than Rs 25 cr at the box office and then multiply its profits as the weekend kicks in.

The rising star fees

The rising costs coupled with the already high star fees is the “major reason” why films are getting shelved, revealed an industry insider. In an earlier interview with, trade analyst Komal Nahta had revealed that Akshay Kumar had charged over Rs 100 cr for Bade Miyan Chote Miyan while Tiger Shroff had charged Rs 35-40 cr. The film has wrapped its business around Rs 60 cr.

“Akshay Kumar charges Rs100 cr plus, and the entire business of Bade Miyan Chote Miyan will stop at Rs 60 cr. So, what is he charging Rs 100 cr for? Tiger Shroff charged some Rs 35-40 cr for this film. For what?!” thundered Komal Nahta. corroborated the figure with multiple sources, who backed the quoted star fees. While Akshay Kumar has reportedly lowered his fees further, it has been learnt that two films of Tiger–both actioners–have now been put on the back burner post the debacle of Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. Sources revealed that projects of Ranveer Singh have also suffered budgeting setbacks as he has been having a low run at the box office.

While several young stars have been internally under fire for their entourage costs, industry sources have revealed that the A-list stars don’t fall in the bracket. If they are in a profit-sharing model, the understanding is that the production takes care of the entourage cost directly, and they act for free. “It is the guys below this ranking, who are causing a headache to the producers, some of their demands are simply outrageous,” claimed a source.

‘Get me the moon, please’

There is no end to stories of actors putting forth their demands while working on a project. It can range from insisting on having a burger delivered in the middle of a jungle, to, as apparently has been the case with a star, asking his driver in advance to drive to the city he is flying to, because he prefers to travel only in his car in the country. But not all of this on production always, so they remain a cheeky footnote in the pages of gossip.

What jumps out as a crisis, however, is when the fun is at the expense of the producer’s money. A producer shared on the condition of anonymity how a star went to shoot a film’s schedule in the UK and demanded that his entire family be there throughout. The producer reluctantly agreed after calculating the additional cost that wasn’t factored in previously and booked them an entire villa for the start to finish schedule. Everything was in place, every little thing done up as per their taste and requirements. When the family arrived to stay at the villa, the production received an angry call. The big mansion was fine, but there was no tea pot. All hell broke loose.

The same star then demanded that he would only fly via a chartered plane, and nothing less than that would do. The producer agreed for the demand and did the costing cutting where he shouldn’t have: The film’s budget, affecting its quality.

“See, one can do whatever they want with their money, but these demands burden a project primarily,” explained a source. “For example, some actors have started to demand security on sets. The producers keep a basic security on set but there are few actors who call their own security. There is a star who called for his personal security, five bouncers at Rs 15,000 each, per day.

“The security by the producer was Rs 1,200 per head. The makers said they can increase guards from their end and give additional manpower. But the star insisted that only his men would guard him. Now imagine the cost of that for the entire duration of the shoot?”

Another source shared how during outdoors, there are certain stars who ask for multiple hotel suites– one for them, second for their staff, third where they would get ready. The insider joked that there have been times when producers have booked themselves a “normal” room to cut cost, while the entourage of stars have enjoyed a luxurious stay.

“There are stars, who do meetings in hotel suites while filming outdoors for another project. The cost of the food and drinks of the guests will then also be borne by the producer of the current film!”

What’s next?

Multiple industry heads spoke to confirmed that some “concrete” steps are being taken to keep the overhead costs in check, devising ways to ensure it is a smooth ride for everyone involved. While a section blames the rise of management agencies as the “root cause”, others say they only follow what the stars ultimately demand.

“The role of agencies can’t be ruled out. It has become a monopoly of sorts where they also have their own hair and makeup guys. Because if there is a crisis with regards to, say hair and makeup, and the actor doesn’t like it, the manager will say it’s not on them as they didn’t arrange it. So, the actors have to take this route, depend on them completely for everything. How wise is it though? It is time the industry takes a firm stand,” the insider concluded.

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