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A 1994 song is being re-made with the same hero, Akshay Kumar, now romancing a younger woman. It is time we take a hard look at Bollywood’s ageism that keeps men ‘evergreen’ while pushing aside their contemporary women actors.
The upcoming movie Sooryavamshi starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif confirmed they would remake the tip tip barsa paani song with Katrina Kaif in the place of Raveena Tandon.
Made in 1994, this song featured Raveena Tandon and a 27 year old Akshay Kumar. 25 years later, the remake will feature a 52 year old Akshay with a younger actor.
One gets hit by the disturbing reality that the same male actor who played the romantic interest of Raveena Tandon in the original song is playing the romantic interest of younger girl Katrina Kaif in the new, remake version.
This brings us to the significant and deep rooted problem in Bollywood of agesim.
Agesim is also part of the patriarchal world where one expects that women stay younger forever, and not only gladly accepts the aged male as a younger guy, but also have no problem making him a partner to a much younger girl.
This is the main reason that the male actors in Bollywood have a longer career staying at the of top game, whereas women after a point have to shift to other options like mommy roles or reality shows.
When we see the pattern, even though women like Raveena Tandon, Madhuri Dixit, Kajol, Priety Zinta etc have aged gracefully and look beautiful, they are not in the top game of movie business anymore. Whereas their contemporaries like the three Khans, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devagan etc continue to rule bollywood.
Recently in Koffee with Karan Ajay Devgan commented that his wife suits more as mother to younger generation guys. And irony died a million deaths when he played the romantic interest to Rakul Preet Singh and Kajal Agarwal, who are like his daughters in age.
The agesim is inherently a misogynitic trait of the society at large, and not just a part of Bollywood. That is the reason that on social media, many people even outside the industry are ready to shame women like Malaika Arora who is her 40s, about her life, her clothes etc. But we see the ready acceptance and celebration of a male actor in his 50s trying to look like a 20+ year old.
Not only that, the partnership of a much older guy with a younger girl is highly accepted and normalised, whereas older women with younger guys are shamed, like Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, and Malaika Arora and Arjun Kapoor. Even the controversy with Saand Ki Aankh is about this ageism, associated with that, which proves the patriarchy in Bollywood, where either aged women are not meant to have movies centered around them, or if they do, older actors who would have done a great job, aren’t preferred over younger ones, with an eye on the box office.
Movies are art, and this ageism cannot be a factor in that. Movies like ‘Black’ (Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee), ‘Waiting’ (Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin), ‘Dear Zindagi’ (Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt), also explored older man and younger woman relationships, but they have dealt with it with sensitivity.
Also, if older-man-younger-woman movies are accepted, it is time to make movies that explore older women and younger guy relationships as well. Movies like ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ (Akshay Khanna and Dimple Kapadia) and Ae Dil hai Mushkil’ (Ranbir Kapoor-Anushka Sharma-Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) attempted to project that. However, there need to be more movies in that genre.
It is also time to stop featuring older men like Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan as younger guys in their 20s or 30s. And if that does not stop, perhaps one shouldn’t have a problem with older woman projecting as younger.
Even though Tip Tip Barsa Paani is a song that objectifies a woman, I would be ready to watch the song again with pleasure if Raveena Tandon does the song again, not Katrina Kaif.
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