The High Cost of Item Songs

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Item songs are polarizing. In a three hour film, a five minute item number can be seen as an irrelevant distraction or a welcome interruption. But love ‘em or hate ‘em, item songs are definite moneymakers for celebrities.

Simply put, the various Munnis and Sheilas of B-town make between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore per item song. The stars then continue to make money by performing those hit songs in award shows and concerts. So needless to say, actresses (and even actors) often seek out item numbers. “Actresses do request film-makers for a hit song so that their shows and events for the year are sorted out,” one industry veteran tells The Times of India.

According to Bunty Walia of GS Entertainment, actresses tend to make about Rs 6 crore to Rs 7 crore from performances alone. “Sponsors make it a point to get the actress with the biggest song of the year as the star performer…an item number or a hit song is a gold mine for any actress today,” explains Ganesh Hegde.

In many cases, actresses make more money from doing a single item song than from an entire film. “Katrina [Kaif] has made more money from performing “Sheila Ki Jawani” on stage than she made from the film [Tees Maar Khan]. Yana Gupta made a fortune from the Murder song,” says producer Mukesh Bhatt.

One can clearly see the appeal an item song has for top celebrities. As 2012 rolls around, we can only imagine the big bucks Katrina will make for “Chikni Chameli” from the upcoming Agneepath. To sum it up in Bhatt’s words, “…it’s big money.”

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