have romanced younger starlets for long in Hindi film industry,
but the trend seems to be reversing these days as the queens of
tinselville are being cast opposite younger heroes, writes Shama
Twain has rightly said that age is an issue of mind over
matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. Our film
industry is taking the saying a tad too seriously. Age is no bar
for Bollywood actresses, it seems. Though ageing heroes have
romanced younger starlets for long, the trend seems to be
reversing. Producers have no longer any reservations about
pairing a mature heroine with a comparatively younger hero.
Of late, the
queens of tinselville have been cast opposite younger actors.
Vidya Balan (29) kicked off a trend by sharing screen space with
Shahid Kapur (27) in Aziz Mirza’s Kismat Konnection.
Ranbir Kapoor is one of the young stars of Bollywood, to be
paired opposite Konkona Sen Sharma, in the movie Wake Up Sid (inspired
from Kannada movie Eddelu Manjunatha, 2009). Besides
being a story of a boy growing up, it captures beautifully the
theme of older woman and younger man pairing successfully.
veteran Rani Mukerji had a much younger Shahid Kapur as the male
lead in Dil Bole Hadippa. The dusky bombshell Bipasha
Basu, too, has a penchant for younger heroes. She worked with
the one-film-old Neil Nitin Mukesh in Aa Dekhein Zara and
went on to pair up with Ranbir Kapoor in Bachna Ae Haseeno
and the debutante Maradona Rebello in Pankh.
are not the first ones to have worked with younger co-actors.
Earlier, too, there have been examples of older actresses and
younger actors. Dharmendra had starred with Meena Kumari in Phool
aur Patthar. Waheeda Rehman and Nutan played the romantic
lead opposite Amitabh Bachchan, and Asha Parekh got courted by
Rajesh Khanna and Feroze Khan. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, 35, has
romanced her husband, Abhishek, 32, in several films, including Guru,
Sarkar Raj, Raavan. The same goes for Hrithik
Roshan-Aishwarya Rai, in Jodhaa Akbar, Dhoom 2 and
Today, a lot of
older women hook up with younger guys, on and off screen.
Hollywood, in particular, has defied the ageism stereotype, with
celebrities like Madonna and Demi Moore marrying younger men (10
and 15 years younger, respectively, with director Guy Ritchie
and actor Ashton Kutcher). Susan Sarandon, 60, has been putting
up with Tim Robbins, 48, for a couple of decades and Barbara
Hershey, 59, has Lost’s smoldering Naveen Andrews, 38,
to keep the company.
REEL AND REAL LIFE : Aishwarya Rai, 35, has romanced husband, Abhishek Bachchan, 32, in several films
Stanley Kubrick’s movie Lolita (1962) set the gold
standard for May-December romances. The older woman-younger man
saga came out in full bloom in 40 Carats (1973), where a
40-year-old woman, vacationing in Greece, meets a 22-year-old,
also on vacation.
In 2009 came Cheri,
a film directed by Stephen Frears, starring Michelle Pfeiffer
and Rupert Friend. It is an adaptation of a novel by French
author Colette. Set in 1900s Belle `C9poque Paris, Cheri tells
the story of the end of a six-year affair between an aging
retired courtesan, L`E9a, and a flamboyant young man, Fred,
nicknamed Ch`E9ri (dear).
Back home, the
exploration of this syndrome began with the advent of talkies
— Jeevan Naiya starring Devika Rani (1908) and Ashok
Kumar (1911). The trend of older actress-younger actor continued
but sparingly in comparison to the older actor-young actress
movies. Years ago, in Kamal Amrohi’s bold experimental movie Daera,
the frail and lovely Meena Kumari was married to an old, dying
script’s demand continues to be vital, casting an older
actress and a young actor becomes the talk of the town, which is
always welcomed by any filmmaker," says trade analyst Taran
no age, so proved the mesmerising Madhuri when she was cast
opposite Akshaye Khanna in Mohabbat and in her comeback
film Aaja Nachle, and with Saif Ali Khan in Arzoo.
Age has not
been a factor for real men and women. This has been a proven
fact in both Bollywood and Hollywood. There have been films like
Dil Chahta Hai and Being Cyrus featuring Dimple
Kapadia where a woman in her forties falls for a much younger
Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hai, Akshaye Khanna is besotted
with an older woman, Dimple Kapadia. Filmmaker Kabir Khan feels
stereotypes should be broken. "If a 60-plus Amitabh
Bachchan can romance an 18-year-old girl in a movie, then a
slightly older actress, too, has the right to romance a hero
much younger than her," he says.
MAY-DECEMBER CHEMISTRYFrom left: Demi Moore - Ashton Kutcher, Madonna-Guy Ritchie; and a still from Chéri
Azmi fell in love with a younger Zakir Hussain and the love was
reciprocated in the film Saaz, the idea was almost
frowned upon. The relationship between Archana Puran Singh and
Upen Patel in the film Money Hai Toh Honey Hai is an
example of the same. A struggling model, Upen falls prey to
fashion designer Archana’s promises of making him the best
model in town. But this relationship is a light-hearted take on
the entire issue.
are treated to a 36-year-old Tabu being wooed by the debutant
Kunal Kapur in Meenaxi — A Tale of Three Cities and a
29-year-old Ameesha Patel cootchie-cooing with 25-year-old Zayed
Khan in Vaada. Likewise Kangana Ranaut was getting cozy
with Adhyayan Suman in Raaz — The Mystery Continues and
Sushmita Sen with former real-life love interest Randeep Hooda
in Karma Aur Holi.
relationships aren’t always portrayed in a constructive way.
Terms like ‘cougar’ (slang for an older woman seeking a
younger man) portray the woman in a disapproving manner, rather
than showing her as an empowered, independent and affectionate
(1947) was paired opposite Rishi Kapoor (1952) in Mera Naam
Joker and Raj Kiran (1955), Rishi Kapoor (1952) in Karz Incidentally,
Mala Sinha, Nutan Behl, Waheeda Rehman, superstars of their
time, were all born in 1936 and were cast opposite six years
younger Amitabh Bachchan (1942) in Sanjog, Saudagar and Kabhie
Kabhie, respectively. Hema Malini (1948) starred opposite
Kamala Haasan (1954) in Ek Nai Paheli. In 1978, came Junoon
with real-life couple Jennifer Kendel (1933) and Shashi Kapoor,
who was five years younger to her. Amrita Singh (1958) too had a
thing or two for younger actors. Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman,
featured Amrita Singh and Shahrukh Khan (1965) and Suryavanshi
had Amrita Singh (1958) with Salman Khan (1965) in the lead
kowtows showing the same trend.
reversal seems to be working with both the audiences and the
Indian society, as it has become receptive towards liaisons of
younger men and older women in movies and otherwise, too. One
reason could be that today’s actresses are quite figure
conscious and manage to look much younger than their even
younger male actors in the movie. Yet another reason could be
Bollywood’s long history of featuring older heroines,
beginning with Devika Rani opposite younger Ashok Kumar making
his debut with Jeevan Naiya in 1936.
"Societal attitudes have
definitely changed," opines Susan Winter, 52, co-author of Older
Women, Younger Men: New Options for Love and Romance.
Nowadays, older women-younger men pairing hardly make news
except in the dogmatic minds. When men act opposite women, young
enough to be their daughters or grand daughters and still be
accepted by public at large, then why is it a deviation for
older women? A study in 2003 by theAmerican Association of
Retired Persons (AARP), a US-based non-governmental organisation
and interest group, revealed that 34 per cent of all women over
40 in the survey were dating younger men, and 35 per cent
preferred it to dating older men. Finally, in a recent survey by
Cosmopolitan, 29.3 per cent of men said they would prefer dating
an older woman. And as they say that when a man/woman of 40
falls in love with a girl/boy of 20, it isn’t his/her youth
he/she is seeking but his/her own.