Richa Chadha To Rakhee, When Women Played Mother To Actors Older Than Them  

Ageism In Bollywood
Ageism in Bollywood or Hindi Film Industry is palpable through the casting of women half the age of the film’s popular male protagonist as a couple or actors younger by a couple of years playing their mothers. Indeed it is a personal choice of the actors to make the decision but filmmakers, and casting directors should reflect on whether their decision is justified: did the role really require the young actor, or whether the role lacked something that could only be filled by that actor’s performance. Or was it just another incidence of ageism, where male actors can play major roles at any age, but female actors can only feature in lead roles until they are of a certain age and after which, they must play the mothers of actors their age or older to them.

Several veteran actors did a wonderful job with their transition into being mothers on-screen. However, having young women in such roles is also disrespectful towards that veteran actors who are skilled and fit for the role but are not cast.

Many actors have voiced their concerns over ageism in the Hindi cinema industry. Richa Chaddha who was offered the role of Hrithik Roshan’s mother in Agneepath after playing Nawazuddin Siddique’s mother in Gangs of Wasseypur commented, “I think the guy who offered me that role had a terribly stupid idea.”

The actor added. “I believe he was smoking something that wasn’t right.” In the film, Sand Ki Aankh, Tapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar played the parts of 60-year-old shooter Dadi, of which Neena Gupta said, “Hamari umar ke role toh Kam se Kam humse kara lo bhai (At the very least, give us the opportunity to portray characters from our age).”

 Here’s are few a actors who played mothers to actors older than them:

– With an age difference of only three years, Seema Biswas, who is 57 years old, plays Akshay Kumar’s (54) mother in the recently released film Bachchhan Paandey(2022).

Ageism in Bollywood

Seema Biswas plays Akshay’s mother in Bachchhan Pandey

– In Bharat(2019), 44-year-old Sonali Kulkarni played the mother of 53-year-old Salman Khan who played the real role of  Bharat Kumar.

– In Zero(2018), Shah Rukh Khan was the main lead, and his mother’s role was played by Sheeba Chaddha. Khan is 56 years old and Chaddha is 50 years old.

– After playing Prabhas’ wife in the last Baahubali instalment, Anushka Shetty, who was 36 at the time, plays Prabhas’ mother in the Bahubali 2(2017). Prabhas was 38 at the time of the film’s release.

Suggested ReadingHow Long Will Bollywood Sell Ageism And Double Standards Onscreen?

– In Gangs of Wasseypur(2012), Richa Chadda portrayed Nagma Khatoon. In real life, she is 35 years old, but she played Nagma, the mother of Nawazuddin Siddique, who is 47 years old. In the film, Siddique played Faizal Khan. She confesses that playing the mother of an older man in Gangs of Wasseypur at the age of 24 was a risk, and she no longer selects films just for the sake of being seen onscreen; she now selects films to act in. Chadha was also offered to play the mother of Hrithik Roshan in the film Agneepath, however, she rejected the role. The role was then played by Zarina Wahab who is  14 years older than Roshan.

– In Welcome(2007), actor Supriya Karnik played the aunt of the main lead Akshay Kumar. Karnik is 47 years old and 7 years younger than Kumar.

– In Waqt: The Race Against Time(2005), Shefali Shah played Sumitra Thakur, mother of lead actor Akshay Kumar’s character. Shah is 48 years old in real life, and his on-screen son Kumar is 54 years old.

– Reema Lagoo, who played the mother of lead actor Sanjay Dutt in Vaastav: The Reality (1999), was 41 years old at the time. Dutt was forty years old at the time.

– In Agneepath (1990), Rohini played the role of Amitabh Bachchan’s ageing mother. While she was 35 when the movie came out, Bachchan was 48.

– Rakhee, who had previously worked with Bachchan in films such as Kabhi Kabhi and Bemisaal, played his mother in Shakti (1982) when she was 35 years old and Bachchan was 40 years old.

– Nargis played a poor woman raising her sons through many struggles and sufferings in Mother India. When Nargis was cast in this role, she was only 26 years old, while Sunil Dutt, who played her son, was 28 years old. In 1957, she received the Filmfare Award for Best Actor for her performance, and Dutt and Nargis married in 1958.

Ageism in Bollywood

Nargis in Mother India

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