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Dubai Diaries: Raveena Tandon or Katrina Kaif?

It's unfair that actresses come with an 'expiry' date.


Enid Grace Parker

Published: Tue 9 Nov 2021, 9:51 AM

A comment from a colleague who had recently attended an early morning show of Sooryavanshi got me thinking about how some fine female actors in Bollywood have either been relegated to ‘character’ roles or have faded into oblivion, thanks to the fact that they have crossed a certain age.

My colleague happened to mention how the gorgeous Katrina Kaif (who plays a doctor in Sooryavanshi) dances in the rain to a revamped song from the 1994 film Mohra. Akshay Kumar starred in Mohra alongside Raveena Tandon who appears in the original song, the catchy Tip Tip Barsa Paani.

Tandon was the talk of the town in the 90s for her sizzling moves in Mohra - but was also known for dramatic and comedic roles in Imtihan and Andaz Apna Apna, as well as critically acclaimed ones in Satta and Dobara.

What amused me about Tip Tip 2.0 is that a dapper Akshay Kumar — all of 54 — is romancing a 38-year-old Kaif with the same ardour as he did Raveena back in 1994. Actors like Raveena, Karisma Kapoor and Kajol who were celebrated back in the 90s for their beauty and talent and starred alongside some of the top male actors of the time including Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay, no longer seem to wield the ability to command a leading lady role in Hindi films while their male counterparts from the era are thriving.

Is it us, the viewing public, who is to blame for this ageism in films? Have we perpetuated a culture of ‘older heroes, younger heroines’? I caught a glimpse of new Netflix film A Castle For Christmas, featuring fifty-somethings Brooke Shields (The Blue Lagoon) and Cary Elwes (The Crush). Shields plays a famous author who travels to Scotland and falls in love with a castle owned by a grumpy duke. While the premise may seem straight out of a Mills & Boon romance, the lines and wrinkles and white hair the two actors combined showcase, added an authentic touch to an otherwise cliched trailer.

Hollywood has offered up some delightful and poignant ‘mature’ romances like The Bridges of Madison County (1995) and Always (1989), among many others. On the flip side we do have actors like Tom Cruise appearing with increasingly younger female leads. A colleague argued that men and women being biologically different differ in strength as they age. A Bollywood star in her forties may not be able to do dance sequences as energetically. A Hollywood leading lady from the Top Gun era may not be able to shimmy up a skyscraper with as much agility as Cruise.

Personally, it’s always refreshing to see older actresses on screen in meaningful roles. Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi featuring Farah Khan and an always-brilliant Boman Irani or Pyaar Mein Twist (where iconic on-screen couple Dimple Kapadia and Rishi Kapoor reunite) may not have the zing of a sexy Kaif dancing to Tip Tip 2.0 but made for an engaging watch. Would you have Raveena replace Katrina in an ‘item’ song?

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