| Jayaprada at the Lucknow Mahotsav on Monday. (PTI)
Hyderabad, Dec. 9: Steaming hot Mallika Sherawat goes for Rs 10 lakh; not-so-hot-anymore Jayaprada for Rs 35 lakh.
Sounds incredible, but that’s the moolah that was dished out to the actor-turned-Samajwadi MP for a 30-minute dance performance at the recent Lucknow Mahotsav.
And what about Hindustani classical music veterans Bismillah Khan, Bhimsen Joshi and Pandit Jasraj' The shehnai player was packed off with only Rs 2.5 lakh, and the vocalists for Rs 3 lakh and Rs 3.5 lakh, respectively.
“Such a huge amount (Rs 35 lakh) is not paid to any of the item number girls in Bollywood,” said Ramana Murthy, a Telugu film industry agent and the secretary of a cultural organisation.
Much younger actors like Mallika, Shilpa Shetty, Yana Gupta and Koena Mitra get only Rs 10 lakh for a number in films, he added.
Sources said the Rs 35 lakh dished out happily to Jayaprada by the Mulayam Singh Yadav government was possibly the “highest fees she got in her chequered career, the best she’s got till date being only around Rs 5 lakh”.
It could also be one of the highest paid to an artiste in India for a 30-minute show.
Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh have kicked up a row saying it was a blatant effort to please the Samajwadi Party MP. “It is nothing but an attempt to please the party leader using a cultural programme as an excuse,” state BJP chief Kesrinath Tripathi said.
Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said the peanuts given to Pandit Jasraj reflected badly on the government. “This amounts to nothing but discrimination against artistes by the state government.”
But Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh defended his chief minister. “Jayaprada’s dance troupe comprised 67 people. The fee given to her matched her performance.”
UP tourism minister Kokab Hamid said Jayaprada had been paid a similar amount for a programme at the Taj Mahotsav.
An Andhra Pradesh government official claimed this was not the first time Jayaprada was charging hefty sums for her performances.
“During the Desam regime, we had twice requested her to perform. But we had to drop the idea because she refused to settle for less than Rs 20 lakh,” he said.