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The decade of 1980s and 90s belong to two major actresses of the Bollywood. In the beginning of 1980s, Hema Malini, Rekha, Zeenat Aman, Parveen Bobby and Reena Roy, were ruling the Industry but the game suddenly changed when Himmatwala released it became a thunderous hit at box office. Hema and Rekha were dethroned and Late Sridevi became solo empress at box office. All her films were hit. Though Sridevi initially faced a little competiton from Jaya Prada and Meenakshi, but in 1985 she clearly became undisputed female superstar with a critical success of “Sadma”. In 1986 Super successful film Nagina , She had been paid a sum of Rs 40 lakhs that was only 10 lacs lesser than the highest paid male superstar “Amitabh Bachhan”. This data is from Ibosnetwork and Box Office India archive website. After the release of Mr. India, Sridevi hits her peak and became undisputed biggest superstar of the Bollywood. She was called “Female Bachhan” because both Amitabh and Devi were charing approx 60 lakhs per film as per the film makers. But in 1988, the game again changed when Madhuri Dixit’s chartbuster song “Ek Do Teen” became the most popular song of that year and had become a major contributor for the success for the blockbuster “Tezaab”. Juhi Chawal also became a star with “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak”. Sridevi started facing competition from both Juhi and Madhuri. The decade 1990s begins with four highest paid female superstars Sridevi (60 Lacs), Madhuri Dixit (25 Lakhs), Meenakshi Sheshadari (20 Lakhs) and Juhi (10 Lakhs). But what happens next?
From 1991 to 1993 : Sridevi was still ruling but numero uno was Madhuri
Though, tough competition was witnessed between Sridevi and Madhuri, and Madhuri was delivering constant super hits and blockbusters from 1990s to 1992, on the other hand, Sridevi career was towards declining because of continuous flops and few averages but she was getting enough praise from critics for films like Lamhe and Khuda Gawah.
- Still, Sridevi was highest paid superstar and was getting 50 to 60 lakhs per film. Though Box office India mentions 30 lakhs because of this data is from distributor analysis, but as per book keeping records of the producers, Sridevi was paid 50 to 60 Lakhs.
- Madhuri Dixit on the other hand was paid Rs. 30 to 45 lakhs per film. But on Box Office, Madhuri was number one actress due to constant hits and blockbusters each year like Saajan, Dil, Beta, Khalnayak.
- There came another young actress that was real threat to both Sridevi and Madhuri, she was none other than “Divya Bharti“, She thundered complete Bollywood with constant hits like Deewana, Shola Aur Shabnam. She had been paid from 20 to 30 lakhs per film. Sudden demise of her, had ended this story.
- Juhi Chawla, from 1990 to 1992, was charging static amount. She was paid Rs. 10 lakhs per film. But year 1993 made her superstar due to hits like Darr, Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke and Lootere which had increased her fees to 20 lakhs.
- Meenakshi Sheshadri was among top actresses in 1980, but her career was declined in 1990s but her major hit like Damini put her in the league in which she was paid 15 lakhs.
1994 to 1997 : Madhuri became the Last Bollywood Empress
Madhuri Dixit fully dethroned Sridevi’s dominance. This era completely changed the face of Bollywood in the international markets. This period delivered few of the biggest Bollywood films of all times. This era also brought evolution of Singleplex theatres to Multiplexes. This era also showcased the talent of younger actresses like Kajol, Manisha, Karisma, Raveen. It also embedded western culture in the films.
- From 1993 to 1995, Madhuri was ruling empress. Madhuri’s presence in a film was the only factor that can make a film successful. She was undisputed biggest superstar of 1990s by all the parameters that are popularity, paycheck and box office. Madhuri Dixit became the first actress to charge 1 cr for Anjaam, though the film was a success at box office (Don’t debate Anjaam was an average performer). The story didn’t end yet, her next release “Hum Aapke Hain Koun!” became the biggest grosser of all times even after not having the top male actor of that time. This film is still the biggest hit of Bollywood. As per the balance sheet of Rajshri, Madhuri was paid Rs. 2.7 Crore for the film. Hence, she became highest paid movie star of the Bollywood. Her static fees became Rs. 2.5 crs. Raja was also her consecutive blockbuster with a male superstar who was giving continuous flops. This ended down the entire debate. Let us be more clear, the salary was double than that of the top male superstar “Shah Rukh Khan”. The year 1996 was not so successful for Madhuri at box office. Despite that she was paid more than all her male co actors. Even Shahrukh khan was paid lesser in “Koyla” in 1996 and “Dil to Pagal hai” in 1997.
- Initially, Juhi Chawla was second highest paid superstar but it was too far from Madhuri Dixit. Juhi’s fees in 1994 was 25 lakhs to 40 lakhs. But due to super success of Karan – Arjun and DDLJ, Kajol not only became superstar but it made her third highest paid female superstar, But in 1996, Sridevi gave her last hit and was paid 1 crore for that film “Judai”. Kajol was paid Rs. 50 to 70 Lakhs after DDLJ.
- Karishma(Karisma) Kapoor also came into top league when Raja Hindustani took nation by storm. She was also getting almost Rs 50 to 70 lakhs per film. Manisha Koirala’s Love Story 42 in 1994, Akele Hum Akele Tum in 1995 and Khamoshi in 1996 made Koirala an overnight star but her fees was Rs. 30 Lakhs.
- Raveena Tandon emerges as a star with two hit films Mohra and Dilwale. Though her rumeration was approximately Rs 25 lakhs.
1998 to 2000 : Madhuri still was highest paid movie star, but Box Office Numbers were fluctuating
- While Box Office Career of Madhuri was on decline mode, but she was still highest paid movie star. Her movies like Arzoo, Wajood, Pukar were either flops or were average performer.
- On the other hand there was a tough competition between Karishma and Kajol. In 1998, with instant hit films Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha and Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya and in 1999, Karisma Kapoor delivers 4 successes including big hit Biwi No1 made both of them second highest paid female superstars. They both were paid Rs 1 crore per film.
- Three more female actors came into limelight and one of which was paid with third highest salary, while two others were paid fourth highest salary for each film. Ashwariya Rai became third highest and got Rs 60 Lakhs per film after the super success of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. While Preity Zinta and Rani Mukherjee‘s acting talent made them fourth highest paid female superstar as such they were paid the amount of Rs 30 lakhs per film in films like KKHH, Kya Kehna and Mission Kashmir.
Marriage of Madhuri Dixit with Dr. Shriram Nene ended the domination of a female superstar. Aftermath, no actress is seen till now who totally has overpowered male co stars in all departments. Sridevi was bonafied ruler of 1980s, so was Madhuri in 1990s. Still Madhuri was not as powerful as Sridevi, but she still carried that streak. Kangana is now taking 24 Crs for a biographical film based on former CM Jayalalitha’s and is now highest paid but it is still far less than that of Akshay, Salman Khan and other highest paid male actors.