Some not-so-young Bollywood divas are playing lead roles that complement their age. Is this a welcome change that Bollywood is coming to terms with?
Hollywood icons During her Oscar acceptance speech in 2008, actress Kate Winslet said, "I don't think any of us can believe that we have been nominated in any category with Meryl Streep." The line, not surprisingly, attracted the maximum applause, reflecting what ageless and irreplaceable actors like Streep mean to the art of movie making.
As far as Hollywood goes, such examples are plenty. If you loved Diane Keaton as the rebellious and neurotic Annie Hall, you equally adore her as the elegant and independent 50-something in Something's Gotta Give.
Ditto Judy Dench who played a lesbian, in love with a fellow teacher (at the age of 72), in Notes on a Scandal. But a similar scenario in Bollywood seems like a far cry.
Allowed to fade Age has always taken precision over acting abilities, especially with respect to actresses. Over the years, we have seen some brilliant women actors fade away into oblivion, as the lines on their faces became prominent.
However, slowly things seem to be changing. With actresses like Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit making their comebacks, we could now hope for scripts to be written around actors' abilities, rather than their age.
Says Sridevi, who plays a housewife enrolling in an English speaking class to impress her family, in her next, English Vinglish, "I have always maintained that when the right role comes, I would love to get back. This seemed like a script that was written keeping in mind my personality, which is why I was convinced."
Filmmakers do not fail to see that actresses like her bring to the palette what none of the girls from the current crop perhaps can.
Agrees Mahesh Bhatt, "There was a phase between the 80s and 90s where roles were written for actresses like Madhuri. It could have been a simple love story, but nobody would play it better. Who would want to let go of such great artistes if they are willing to work, despite all their family commitments." Tailor-made However, it cannot be ruled out that the lack of good actresses within the current generation may be pushing filmmakers to weave stories around older actresses.
Says Vikram Bhatt who is casting 37-year-old Karisma Kapoor in Dangerous Ishq, "I don't want to pass judgment on the current heroines, but I needed someone who would bring emotional depth to my protagonist's character. Only Karisma can pull it off and her age doesn't matter."
Madhuri too will join the cast of Ishqiya 2 soon and her role is expected to be quite different from that of Vidya Balan in Ishqiya. Says Habib Faisal who cast Neetu Singh as his lead actress in his first directorial, Do Dooni Chaar, "The story required a middle-aged couple and I couldn't think of anyone better than Rishi and Neetu. Even today, she has electrifying energy on the set."
Adds Sarika, who bagged a National Award for Parzania, "There has to be a change in the attitudes of people who are responsible for films, only then substantial roles can be written."
Let's have meatier roles for... Tabu, Meenakshi Seshadri, Padmini Kolhapure, Zeenat Aman and Rekha