#Opinion

Why The Lopsided Age Gap Between Lead Couples In Bollywood Doesn’t Bother Us?

Age Gap In Bollywood Films, radhika madan akshay kumar film
The ridiculous age gap between the lead couples doesn’t seem to bother the film-makers in Bollywood. Time and again the conversation resurrects when we see an oddly matched pair but it fizzles out. Or are we so desensitised that we do not want this to change? Yet again the announcement of another Akshay Kumar film is trending today and the age gap between the lead actors is a whopping 28 years!

Akshay Kumar shared on his Instagram a post announcing the Hindi remake of Soorarai Pottru. Sharing the news about the unnamed film in Hindi he wrote, “With the auspicious coconut-breaking and a small prayer in our heart, we begin the filming of our yet untitled film which is about dreams and the power of it. In case you’ll have any title suggestions, do share and of course your best wishes.”

Age Gap In Bollywood Films

The accompanying video shows, the actor Radhika Madan dressed in a red saree, with hair in a neat long pleat, she takes a coconut and aims at a surface which is covered with red cloth. Beside her sits actor Akshay Kumar and director Sudha Kongara. Kumar flashes the board which calls for camera shots. It is safe to assume that Madan who is 26 will be paired opposite the 54-year-old Akshay Kumar. This means Kumar’s first film Saugandh released around four years before Madan was even born! That’s some shelf life for an actor, sadly the same doesn’t hold for female actors.

Madan, at the age of 17, began her acting career in 2014. She made her foray into acting with the television romantic drama series Meri Ashiqui Tum Se Hi. In this, she essayed the role of Ishaani Parikh. She made her Bollywood debut with the film Pataakha starring Sanya Malhotra and her in a lead role. Later she appeared in the film Mard ko Dard Nhi Hota directed by Vasan Bala. In her third film, Angrezi Medium, directed by Homi Adajania, Radhika played the role of a 17-year-old girl alongside Irrfan Khan and Kareena Kapoor. Madan definitely has come a long way in her journey as an actor.

For her, it may be an achievement to share screen space with someone like Kumar. But shouldn’t we all stop and ask why is this kind of casting still in vogue? Isn’t the age gap glaring at us then why do we lap it up?

Earlier Akshay Kumar-starrer Prithviraj also reignited the same debate as the period film will launch former Miss World Manushi Chhillar in the role of Princess Samyukta. While Tip Tip Barsa Panni in Sooryavanshi did start the conversation on how Katrina Kaif replaced Raveena Tandon but Kumar retained his place why are we not rejecting such portrayals as cinemagoers?

Bachchhan Pandey saw phenomenal actor Seema Biswas as Akshay Kumar’s mother when she is just three years older than him? In the 2019 film, Bharat Sonali Kulkarni who is nine years younger than Salman Khan plays his mother and Disha Patani who is Khan’s love interest is 27 years younger than him! Why is it that women actors have to make a comeback while their male counterparts never need to leave the industry? Is it not gender-based age disparity?

Selective Ageism On Silver Screens

Seema Biswas plays Akshay’s mother in Bachchhan Pandey

This is not just a trait unique to Akshay Kumar but a problem with the industry which sells stories based on the male protagonist. Salman Khan in Dabangg and Sultan, Shahrukh Khan in Zero, and Rajnikanth in Robot have been part of such films too. Sadly there is no such list for women actors who have a very limited shelf life in this industry.

Like we are collectively talking about gender-based pay disparity in films and many actors have taken a stand on this issue gender-based age disparity also needs to be addressed. Creating memes won’t help us reach a solution to the problem.

 The views expressed are the author’s own.