Salman Khan’s Bharat Proves that Bollywood Wants On-Screen Mothers as Young as Their Sons
Have you ever noticed that Bollywood tends to age its male superstars much later than its female actors? For instance, the megastars of the industry (Shah Rukh, Salman and others) continue to play young chaps when in reality they’re all over fifty years of age. No one really cares about that, but the idea of an older female actor playing a younger role on screen? Outrageous.
On Wednesday, the much-awaited film of the year, Bharat was released. Why Salman Khan believes that the same formula (a frequently used concoction of young, glamorous actors, glitzy costumes, dialogues creating a mirage of being powerful and his eight pack abs) will work for every film is beyond us. But there was something else about the film which made us rather uncomfortable.
The film can be called a bildungsroman of sorts, which features the life and times of Bharat from the age of eight to above seventy. During the course of the film, Salman (who desperately tries to look young) romances Disha Patani. Mind you, Disha is 27 years younger than Salman Khan in real life.
Meanwhile, Sonali Kulkarni plays the role of Bharat’s mother. In real life, Sonali is 9 years younger than her on-screen son.
But this isn’t unusual. When it comes to the leading ladies for these older superstars, the age gap is staggering. As pointed out by Reddit user, Salman Khan’s leading ladies remained the same age although he himself was growing older. Two years later, not much has changed. Because when it comes to Bollywood, logic takes the back seat and sexism win.
The moment female actors pass a certain age, they’re no longer deemed fit for leading roles. Instead, they have to make do with side roles like that of ‘maa’, ‘masi’, ‘bua’ and so on.
But Bharat isn’t the first movie where Bollywood has cast a younger actor to play the role of a mother to an actor who is her age or just a couple of years younger. Here’s a list, which is infuriating, to say the least:
1. Shefali Shah and Akshay Kumar
Remember Akshay Kumar’s heartwarming film on the importance of family, Waqt? If you recall, Shefali Shah played his mother onscreen. Shah is another veteran actress who’s often cast in such roles. While her role in Dil Dhadakne Do was still believable, Waqt (which released almost 15 years ago) was not simply because Shefali is five years younger than him in real life.
2. Sheeba Chaddha and Shah Rukh Khan
While you cheered for Bauua Singh in Zero, you probably never thought that the woman who played Shah Rukh’s on screen mother was actually seven years younger than him?
3. Nargis Dutt and Sunil Dutt
Mother India is probably one of cult films that continue to be popular even today. But did you know that while Nargis played Sunil Dutt’s mother on screen, they were actually of the same age (that is, 28)?
4. Sonali Kulkarni and Hrithik Roshan
Both Sonali and Hrithik were born in 1974. That means in Mission Kashmir, which released in 2000, both actors were 26 years old. While Hrithik got to play a guy his age, Sonali had to play the role of his mother. Nice.
5. Rakhee Gulzar and Amitabh Bachchan
In Shakti, Amitabh Bachchan’s onscreen mother was five years younger than him. What?
6. Amitabh Bachchan and Rohini Hattangadi
Remember Big B’s mom in Agneepath? No, not the remake, we’re referring to the original. Yes, well, Rohini Hattangadi played his mother but guess what, in real life the latter is almost eight years younger than him.
7. Shahrukh Khan and Zarina Wahab
In My Name is Khan, Zarina played the role of Shah Rukh Khan’s Rizwan. In real life, however, Shah Rukh is only six years younger to her.
8. Sanjay Dutt and Reema Lagoo
In Vaastav, Reema Lagoo looked every bit the desi maa that Bollywood loves to endorse. Turns out, her onscreen son, Sanjay Dutt, is only a year younger to her.
9. Salman Khan and Himani Shivpuri
Himani Shivpuri and Salman have starred in countless films together and she’s often been cast as his mother. But who cares about the fact that in real life, Shivpuri is only five years older to Salman Khan?
10. Kirron Kher and Aamir Khan
Kirron Kher really has mastered the role of the typical Punjabi mom, hasn’t she? In Rang De Basanti, she played the role of Aamir Khan’s mother. She is only ten years older to him. Aamir Khan, who played a college student in the film, was forty one years old at the time.
11. Shahid Kapoor and Tabu
Haidar can be described as one of the defining moments of Tabu’s career, never mind the fact that her on screen son was only 9 years younger to her.
12. Ranbir Kapoor and Manisha Koirala
If you thought this was a trend only in older Bollywood films, you couldn’t be more wrong. In Sanju, Ranbir’s onscreen mother was played by Manisha Koirala, who is only ten to twelve years older to him.
It seems almost hopeless at this point. Bollywood is quick to age its female actors in an attempt to bring in younger leading ladies. But why? Also, how on earth do you decide the age after which a female actor (irrespective of her achievements) is to be shunned? Why do the female actors have to hover in the shadows of their former glory while their male counterparts (of the same age or even older) continue to bag leading roles?