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Mallika Sherawat may not have had a big movie release recently but the actress still commands a high price -- at least where item numbers go. In fact, she beats leading actress Katrina Kaif hands down to it, despite the latter doing a sexy item song in the biggie Bodyguard.
We decided to take a look at the highest paid item girls in the industry. Media professional and industry observer Abhijit Mhamunkar gives us the details.
There is a tie for the first place between Mallika Sherawat and Malaika Arora Khan -- both charge Rs 1.5 crore
Mallika did item numbers in two films -- Thank You and Bin Bulaye Baraati. The latter's budget was about Rs 6 to 7 crore but for that one song alone, they had to pay Rs 1.5 crore to Mallika.
After Munni Badnaam Hui from Dabangg became a smash hit, Malaika decided to hike her price for Housefull 2 to about Rs 1.75 crore.
In fact, on records, Malaika is the highest paid item girl.
Katrina Kaif comes third on the list for many reasons. One, she appeared in only part of the item number in Bodyguard, not the entire song. Secondly, it was former beau Salman Khan's home production so she took home a discounted fee, between Rs 25 to 50 lakhs. Plus, the film was produced by Salman's sister Alvira and her husband Atul Agnihotri.
Besides, Sohail Khan had produced her first commercial hit Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya, which co-starred Salman.
Katrina did an item song in Tees Maar Khan -- Sheila Ki Jawani -- but she acted in that film as well, so didn't get any money separately for the song.
It's always the middle-level actresses who do item songs. Sameera Reddy did an item number in Aakrosh for director Priyadarshan, as she is doing his film, Tezz. It was a win-win situation for both, as Sameera does not have any work in hand, and he needed an item girl. So they bailed each other out.
Even though she will probably tell producers that she got around Rs 75 lakhs for Aakrosh, she must have gotten about Rs 20-25 lakhs.
That's a trend in the industry these days. If a producer pays an actress say Rs 50 lakhs, either she or her manager will spread fake figures up to say Rs 75-80 lakhs. This way, when a producer approaches her, she will say her market price is higher.
Rakhi Sawant and Sambhavana Seth feature in the next category of item girls. Krazzy 4 was Rakhi's biggest film because the producer was an A-Lister (Rakesh Roshan).
These item girls are not paid more than Rs 10 to 12 lakhs. If they work in A-list movies, their rates are even lesser, as the producer will argue he's giving them a better platform.
Item girls like Mahek Chahal (Chamki Jawani in Yamla Pagla Deewana) are practically non-entities, as they don't get much money at all. They perform item songs at lesser price than Rakhi and Sambhavana.