FIELDING IN 40S
When I saw Aishwariya Rai Bachchan in the star cast of ‘Fanney Khan’, the first reaction I had was ‘Why? Again, a comeback?’. If you have grown professionally on the diet of Hindi film industry, experience, by now, has taught you not to be optimistic about the chemistry of the star and the script. You smell the taste seeing the menu card.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan fails again. The ‘drop-dead gorgeous’ woman, as a film critic describes her in his review of her recent offering, had nothing much to offer beyond her beauty that certainly went awry with her superfluous act in the film. The choice of script seemed to have failed her, again. A number of heroines of her age, like Rani Mukerji, Karishma Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Kajol, etc have hard-balled a second innings and hoped they would be able to draw their fandom in the same way as earlier, not all in vain. The late Sridevi made a meticulous move when she meant to make a comeback. It was wise of her to choose films like ‘English Vinglish’ and ‘Mom’, where she played a mother almost of her real age and both the films turned out to be huge successes. Similarly, Rani Mukerji (Chopra) recently hedged her offering to character driven films with ‘Hichki’, where she played a woman with Tourette Syndrome, who turned her weakness into her biggest strength and the stupendous success of the film harboured an impression that past 40 and mother of a child can still have a happy hitch with the audience with the right script. If Kajol was sure enough that she can reinstate her oomph at this age, paired opposite Shah Rukh Khan again in a romantic film (Rohit Shetty directorial ‘Dilwale’), it had to loom with grim inevitability. Kajol matured to the reality and ventured for ‘Helicopter Eela’, where she ages as a single mother of a college-going student. This is cerebral and if the trailer has lit up the sensory cortex of the audience and evoked a smile, the film is a success. But majority of the successful films mentioned above were made under home production. Does that mean that industry is still far to evolve from being sceptical about writing and making films keeping yesteryears’ heroines in mind, unlike the male counterparts like Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor? “Heroines have a short shelf life. Luckily, we (male actors) have been here for the last 25 years, so we don’t have a choice,” Ajay Devgn told me in 2014. Madhuri Dixit tried rejuvenating her dance avatar with ‘Aaja Nachle’, Karishma Kapoor braved ‘Dangerous Ishhq’—but audience had moved on. So they were fated to fray. Not sure how much long-stuck Priety Zinta starrer ‘Bhaiyyaji Superhit,’ which is due in October, would struck a responsive chord with the audience. Trade pandits and somewhat patrons of the industry argue that now it’s time when the script is the real hero and they play a second fiddle. But that too have shrunk for the female actors. When we see Amitabh Bachchan, 75, have still not past his prime with eight film due under his credit, female actors, close to half his age seems to have lost in the mist of time.
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