Stardust (English) - - COVER STORY - Words SHAR­BANI MUKHER­JEE

Bol­ly­wood is said to be a male­dom­i­nated in­dus­try, where the he­roes held on to the reins of their fame for years and with­stood sev­eral hits and duds, only to keep on shin­ing on the sil­ver screen de­spite their grey­ing hair and in­nu­mer­able wrin­kles. But their time on cel­lu­loid may purely be linked to the pas­sion that they had for their craft, which didn’t let the “age gap” be­tween them and their fe­male lead be ev­i­dent to the pub­lic. Heav­ily caked faces, fab songs and in­ter­est­ing sto­ry­lines, which com­pli­mented the su­perb act­ing skills of th­ese jodis did the math right for them and voila, the age gap went out of the win­dow!

If you’re think­ing that this was only hap­pen­ing back in the ‘70s or ‘80s, you’re prob­a­bly wrong! In the ‘90s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai had Shahrukh Khan, who was 33 back then, ro­manc­ing a 20-yearold Rani Muk­erji. The Sui Dhaaga ac­tor Anushka Sharma was just 20 when she de­buted op­po­site the King of Ro­mance in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. But we can’t just blame poor SRK, top ac­tors like Aamir Khan, Sal­man Khan, Ak­shay Ku­mar and Ajay Devgn have ro­manced hero­ines on­screen who were lit­er­ally half their age. But just like chem­istry, the equa­tions be­tween the ac­tors have started chang­ing and the film­mak­ers have started ex­per­i­ment­ing like never be­fore. Call it chalk ‘n’ cheese or what­ever you may like, there has been a dis­tinct shift in the baali umar of the hero­ines. The ex­per­i­men­tal pair­ing of a well-es­tab­lished, older hero­ines with a com­par­a­tively newer, younger hero has started work­ing won­ders! And we’re sure, you must have loved a few of the hatke pair­ings on­screen re­cently. Let’s zoom into the ajab ga­jab pair­ings that are hit­ting the bull’s eye.

“Wak­ing up”to it!

Per­haps the per­cep­tion of the desi au­di­ence of a “per­fect pair­ing” was flawed for quite some time. And al­though we loved the stereo­typ­i­cal jodis back then, the new wave of cinema, and that too main­stream ex­per­i­men­tal one, seems to have started in the year 2009. And the one to in­tro­duce a newer taste of pair­ing to the NextGen movie­go­ers was film­maker Ayan Muk­erji. De­but­ing with a hatke pair­ing is the risk that the lad took and we got to see the very art filmi Konkana Sen Sharma paired op­po­site Ran­bir Kapoor in Wake up Sid. The pair­ing was pretty odd but some­how worked won­ders on­screen, and the film still stands as a trend­set­ter of sorts. With a sub­tle take on live-in re­la­tion­ships and the mil­len­nial life of the youth in a me­trop­o­lis, the film silently started a trend – that of pair­ing an el­der hero­ine with a younger hero. And man, this def­i­nitely changed the ball game al­to­gether! This unique con­cept of ro­mance thus started to be tapped on by sev­eral oth­ers in Tin­sel Town since then.

Been there, done that.

The one per­son who in­tro­duced this trend in a sub­tle way a few years be­fore that was Aish­warya Rai Bachchan. She is one of the few ac­tors who has man­aged to rule

the roost even post moth­er­hood. The for­mer beauty queen has been lauded for her per­for­mances since the time she en­tered Tin­sel Town. But did you no­tice that it was Ash who ac­tu­ally started ro­manc­ing younger ac­tors on­screen? Her re­cent pair­ings with Rajkummar Rao in Fan­ney Khan and Ran­bir Kapoor in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil were lauded. In­ci­den­tally, the Josh ac­tor was paired op­po­site a much younger Zayed Khan in Shabd, exboyfriend Vivek Oberoi in Kyun! Ho Gaya Na… and also hubby dear­est Ab­hishek Bachchan in Dhai Ak­shar Prem Ke, Kuch Naa Kaho, Um­rao Jaan, Guru and Raa­van. What’s in­ter­est­ing is that the age gap be­tween Ash and Abhi has been ev­i­dently spot­lighted in Mani Rat­nam’s film.

What say,Rani?

Mov­ing on to the queen of Aditya Chopra’s heart, ac­tor Rani Muk­erji, who’d been on the other side of the fence once, seems to have re­jigged her thoughts about work­ing with younger men. When asked about the chang­ing trend of pair­ing on­screen, she re­port­edly quipped, “I will be very com­fort­able ro­manc­ing younger ac­tors on screen. I have ro­manced many ac­tors on screen. As an ac­tor, I am here to fol­low the in­struc­tion of film di­rec­tors.” The Hichki ac­tor, who was paired op­po­site Shahid Kapoor in Dil Bole Hadippa! and Prithvi­raj in Aiyaa, seems to be game for it and we can’t wait to see her more on­screen.

Ishq but hatke!

An­other one from the brood, the fab Baazi­gar ac­tor Ka­jol, who’s also ro­manced ac­tors el­der to her, has been pretty vo­cal about things around her. When the Fanaa ac­tor was asked about her opin­ion about the chang­ing taste of the au­di­ence and her take on it, she al­legedly said, “I am open to that. I have never re­fused a film, be­cause of any­one else who is in it. It

de­pends on the script and cast­ing. We worry about who suits the script, rather than if they are big enough for the film.” She added, “I hon­estly feel that this is a fan­tas­tic time in the film in­dus­try. Ev­ery­thing is pos­si­ble right now. We have fi­nally achieved what Hol­ly­wood did, sixty years ago.”


Talk­ing about gen­der roles and openly ad­dress­ing the new trend of the con­cept of re­verse age gap and flexi gen­der roles was R. Balki’s film Ki & Ka. Ka­reena Kapoor Khan, who has been around for quite some time, was por­trayed as a young am­bi­tious woman who is pretty chilled about hav­ing a hus­band younger than her. Ar­jun Kapoor, who played a house hus­band was all praises about the way the sub­ject had been dealt with. A fan-boy of our dar­ling Bebo, the duo made sure that they pre­sented a siz­zling chem­istry on­screen.

March­ing on…

..Yes, it surely seems like the film­mak­ers have de­vel­oped a spe­cial in­ter­est in this lat­est re­ver­sal trend. Post star­ring op­po­site the Ishaqza­ade ac­tor Ar­jun Kapoor in Ki & Ka, she was cast op­po­site the Pun­jabi sen­sa­tion Diljit Dosanjh in Udta Pun­jab in the same year. The Jab We Met ac­tor, dur­ing the pro­mo­tions of one of her movies, ap­par­ently said that she was okay with be­ing paired op­po­site the younger crop. When asked about who she would pick out of the young crop to star with, she re­port­edly averred, “Varun Dhawan. But I can’t work with him, he was David Dhawan’s lit­tle son on the sets of Hero No.1. But you never know. I may end up ro­manc­ing Varun on screen.” Fast for­ward: Post birthing Taimur Ali Khan, she chose to be­gin her sec­ond in­nings op­po­site Sumeet Vyas, a prom­i­nent name from the dig­i­tal space. Whether it was a clever trick to not be over­shad­owed by the fame of an­other fa­mous con­tem­po­rary ac­tor or not, the math worked for the Tashan ac­tor in Veere Di Wed­ding. The equa­tion be­tween the duo was ap­pre­ci­ated by many and got a thumbs-up from the crit­ics as well. Even though the con­ven­tional form of pair­ing is still on, we can­not wait to see more such unique pair­ings. And who knows, the trend might take over com­pletely in no time. After all, Bol­ly­wood throws sur­prises at you and you can’t help but marvel at them.

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