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Indian film stars are too high priced

By Fakir Hassen, IANS

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South African fans of Aishwarya Rai Aishwarya E-cardsand Hrithik Roshan may never get to see them live on stage as show promoters here say they cannot afford the "exorbitant" fees they charge.

Some of South Africa's top show promoters are unanimous that Indian film stars and playback singers demand huge sums for a single stage appearance in the "mistaken belief" that the shows make huge profits.

The weekly Sunday Times Extra said Rai, a former Miss World, charged about $100,000 for one appearance, while Shah Rukh Khan's fee was around $150,000.

Quoting Abhijit Chowdhary, a director of events management company I-Die in Mumbai, it said fees for Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan varied between $70,000 and $100,000.

Among playback singers, Sonu Nigam charged $30,000, while Udit Narayan wanted $50,000.

"The Bollywood guys feel that South Africa is like a land of milk and honey. They believe there is an incredible amount of money here and people are starved of (live) Indian entertainment," promoter Sugen Nair told the Sunday Times Extra.

Last year, Nair had to pay playback singer Sonu Nigam 100,000 rands for two short appearances at Durban and Johannesburg merely to promote Nigam's film "Love in Nepal".

There was a huge rumpus at the Johannesburg show when Nigam went on stage for a few minutes only to sing some songs from his film to the 200 members of the audience who had paid huge amounts for their tickets expecting to see a full performance by Nigam.

Nair subsequently had to refund their money.

Ironically, "Love in Nepal" never reached South Africa when it was eventually released last month.

The film was panned by critics and even forced Nigam to admit that no producer would want to sign him up as a hero again after three failed attempts at becoming a movie star.

Nair should probably be grateful that he did not lose more money by distributing the film here, local fans said.

Last year, Nair had wanted to bring Rai to South Africa, but her fee was too high to recover from the shows he had planned. He also shelved the idea of a stage show featuring music director Anu Malik and singers KK, Shaan and Sunidhi Chauhan after the group wanted $150,000 collectively.

Durban-based show promoter Sunny Gayadin, known for having played host to some of the most successful shows in the past few years, has also lashed out at the high prices now being asked.

"Our people are getting conned by the high fees the artists are demanding," Gayadin told the Sunday Times Extra, adding that many of them demanded first class flights, five-star hotel accommodation for themselves and their entourage, as well as a daily allowance over and above the fee charged, raising the costs even further.

Artists also demanded full payment up front before promoters could recover some money from the show takings.

The weekly quoted a clause in a contract between Gayadin and Udit Narayan: "In case full and final payment of $50,000 does not reach my bank on or before 15 days of the show, I, along with my group, will not leave Mumbai, India, for the show."

Gayadin said the poor audience response to recent shows was due to the high ticket prices which were forced by the high fees that had to be paid to the artists.

Another promoter, Praneil Singh, who has brought Kareena Kapoor and Akshay Kumar to South Africa, said some local promoters offered the artists huge and unrealistic amounts, which led to the perception that there was lots of money to be made in South Africa.

But events manager Chowdhary justified the artist's fees: "When the stars come to South Africa, it is (often) only for one show. A star has to spend eight to 10 days rehearsing.

"It's easy to see them for 20 minutes on stage, but for them to do that act, they need to rehearse. They have to charge high fees because they are spending so much of their time."


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