Entertainment Bollywood 10 Oct 2017 Salman, SRK, Saif: S ...

Salman, SRK, Saif: Stars refusing to age on screen responsible for recent flops?

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Oct 10, 2017, 12:13 am IST
Updated Oct 10, 2017, 1:59 pm IST
Stills from Tubelight, Jab Harry Met Sejal and Chef.
 Stills from Tubelight, Jab Harry Met Sejal and Chef.

Age isn’t just a number for Bollywood actors today. While ‘older’ Bollywood actresses are often disposed off for younger talent, lately male actors too are at the receiving end of the trend. 

Saif Ali Khan’s much-anticipated film Chef hasn’t done well. The trailer caught the attention of many who were keen on seeing Saif in a role that suits his age. But his character didn’t quite do justice to the age, and he still played a young guy. The same could be said of Shah Rukh Khan in Jab Harry Met Sejal. Salman Khan’s Tubelight, where he played a “young” man, too failed at the box office (BO). Going by the BO collections, clearly audiences didn’t seem to buy it. With these biggies already on the wrong side of 50, should they consider age-appropriate roles? 

A still from ChefA still from Chef

Sanjay Dutt, who has been around for over three decades, is almost horrified at the idea of playing a lover boy. When quizzed if he misses being the romantic hero, he says: “Well, I can’t play the romantic lead now. I’m absolutely okay with age-appropriate roles.” He does make an exception with the romantic genre. “If there’s a mature love story between two older people, only then will it make sense,” he says.

Sanjay Dutt and Aditi Rao Hydari in BhoomiSanjay Dutt and Aditi Rao Hydari in Bhoomi

Shefali Shah, however, believes that actors are at the liberty of picking roles they like. “An actor can decide to slap on make-up and become a character that’s 20 years older or act in roles of a mother and grandmother. A star doesn’t have the same liberty,” she says, continuing, “I think there is a huge difference between actors and stars.” 

Amitabh Bachchan has also borne the brunt of playing the lover boy and angry young man for long. However, he managed to make a transition into character roles at a vital time in his career. In the late ’90s, he starred in films like Lal Baadshah (1999) and Hindustan Ki Kasam (1999), which were BO failures. However, in 2000, his career turned around when he played a stern, older figure in Mohabbatein. “He is one of the most successful people to have transitioned into character roles. He chose roles that complemented his age,” says film historian S.M.M. Ausaja, adding, “This doesn’t mean he restricted himself to roles of fathers or grandfathers. He also took up Nishabd, where he played an old man in love with a young girl.”

One reason the audience might dislike older actors playing young roles is because they prefer seeing them in their star-like glory — age included. Shefali elaborates on this. “When someone like Shah Rukh plays a character, one always remembers his name before the name of his character. So, in such a scenario, stars probably tend to stick with an image people have of them since that’s what works for them,” she explains. 

However, exceptions come as a breath of fresh air. “One person who is taking risks wonderfully is Aamir, like he did in Dangal. And it worked,” she adds. 

Scriptwriter Aseem Arora says that he has no problem in writing roles of a 30-year-old, which will be essayed by actors above 50. He reasons, “Aamir was well-above 40 when he played a college boy in the box office hit 3 Idiots. Even today, Akshay romances young girls and his films work well. It depends on how the actor pulls off the character. It will look odd if he fails to act according to the age of the character and lets his own age show on the big screen.”

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