Bollywood comes of age

It was a nifty 50 for Shah Rukh Khan as he marked his birthday on Monday with messages, media interviews and a bash for family and friends. All these were well-publicised events.

In fact, all the Khans — Salman, Aamir and Shah Rukh — mark their 50th birthdays this year. All the hype makes one wonder how times have changed.

Those with salt-and-pepper hair will recall the time when age was either never discussed or kept a strict secret in Bollywood. This was certainly true for women, but many fans did not even know the ages of male stars.

Dharmendra, who was given the sobriquet ‘Garam Dharam’, was in hot demand for a great many years, till he started playing the big brother roles, then the father, eventually fading from the screen. Amitabh Bachchan didn’t relinquish his ‘Angry Young Man’ title until much later, when he became the ‘Angry Middle-aged Man’. ‘Jumping-Jack’ Jeetendra defied age with élan as he bobbed on his trademark white shoes. There was ‘Sexy sanyasi’ aka Vinod Khanna, who earned the alliterative label because of his ‘Osho’ phase. Fans were quite clueless about the age of these stars.

Today, of course, the opposite rules. Stars talk about their age and are quite blase about it. So, here’s to Bollywood stars no longer being afraid to say they are of a certain age.

More power to this trend, but let us not be naïve and put this down to honesty alone. Maintaining any mystery has become so much harder with the media getting more intrusive and pervasive these days. Social media, too, has closed the gap between what stays private and public.

As for looking your age, spiritual leanings may no longer be enough for the new-age ‘sexy sanyasis’ to keep the powers of age and gravity at bay, but thanks to Botox shots and heavy gym sessions, 50 is the new 40, 40 is the new 30… you get the drift.

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