The trailer of Helicopter Eela, Kajol’s upcoming silver screen venture, has received a positive response on social media. The actress, we presume, is playing a single mother to a college-going kid in this film. If the trailer is anything to go by, Eela seems to have left her college education incomplete to raise her son. After a little encouragement, she decides to join the same college her son attends, to complete her studies after 22 years. The premise may sound something we have already seen in the 2015 film Nil Battey Sannata, but this one has an urban feel to it.

What catches one’s attention is a 44-year-old Kajol, who plays the protagonist here. The actor who was last seen in the debacle Dilwale has made a decision most popular Hindi film female leads dare not to (at least voluntarily), even in 2018. That is to essay the role of a college going boy’s mother. A college boy in itself is a character which most debutante male actors play. In fact, Hindi-film heroes play college boys well into their late twenties or early thirties.

Will our middle-aged heroes please take a note?

One must remember that Kajol, being a popular female actor from the nineties, is part of the same league as Late Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit – women who walked into new age Bollywood where age doesn’t necessarily mean the end of one’s career.

Unlike many of their predecessors, these women had sustained in the changing industry without having to shrink into side roles with advancing age.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • Kajol’s upcoming film Helicopter Eela is about a mother who resumes her college education after a long gap.
  • Kajol will essay the role of a college going kid’s mother.
  • Female actors are opting for age-appropriate role that to as protagonists and not side actors, like it used to be earlier.

This also means they are being given age-appropriate powerful role. Which appeal both to their fans and their capabilities as actors. They are still leading ladies, but in films where the focus of their character is on other aspects than romancing the male lead.

Be it Madhuri Dixit in Bucket List, or Sridevi in English Vinglish and Mom, the leading ladies of the nineties are increasingly seen in assignments where they play middle-aged housewives undergoing existential crisis, or middle-class mothers fighting for empowerment.

What is clear from the success of the above-mentioned films is that if such movies are crafted well, they receive a great response from the audience too.

The tag of being a forty-something heroine from the nineties doesn’t act as a deterrent at the box office today.

If only the male Bollywood actors could accept this fact, along with their age. We are still stuck with fifty-something leading men, whose screen age rarely passes 35 or 40 on screen. They romance heroines almost half their age. They repeatedly play “young men”, who are macho enough to beat twenty goons to a pulp in twenty seconds. Are our heroes too vain to accept their age? Do they live in denial of their graying hair and creased faces, because it would kill their appeal? Why don’t we have more actors like Aamir Khan, who agree to play their age, like he did in Dangal?

Perhaps one day, our heroes will find some courage from their female counterparts and learn to accept their off-screen age on screen. It is very convenient to play ageless, virile and forever youthful today. It is more challenging to do what these women do, as it brings a kind of personal reality to the screen. Kudos to our leading ladies for having that courage.

Photo Credit : The Indian Express

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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