Mind The Gap: Age Meets Cinema


by Suri Singh, The Male Brain

In the words of Ed Sheeran – When your legs don’t work like they used to before, And I can’t sweep you off of your feet… And, darling, I will be loving you ’til we’re 70. This is evidently true for a number of Bollywood actors today. One of India’s Bollywood biggies has just recently turned 50 – Aamir Khan. And with not long to go both Salman and Shahrukh will be following suit. The big 50 marks a landmark in any mans life – but the difference here is what happens on screen. You will rarely see this trio of actors romancing a woman aged less than 30. However flip the coin – and post 30 Bollywood heroines disappear into the realms of invisibility.

Age. What does it mean to us? Is it ‘just a number’ or are we defining our life, habits and actions in line with it? Do we change our decisions based on our age – or perhaps we dictate our age by what the media chooses to surround us with. 37 year old beauty Amal weds 53 year old Clooney, Aamir, turned 50 this year – romancing 26 year old stunner Anushka is his most recent release PK, or 46 year old Will Smith co-stars with 24 year old Australian beauty Margot in his latest flick ‘Focus’.

1+1 was the first sum we learnt in school – the simplest of course. In adulthood it’s sometimes the most difficult. Relationships are an odd thing – mainly because a lot of us care way too much about what others think. We’re surrounded by so much confusing propaganda that so many fail to stay standing. There are a number of different views when it comes to discussing age, couples, relationships and perceptions. We are each entitled to our own opinions. Experience in relationships is like any form of practice. If you don’t have it – you’re an amateur.

As the heroines of the silver screens in Bollywood slowly disappear why is it that the heroes (if you can call them that) remain? An industry dominated by the veterans of Bollywood they still have first dabs at the newest entrants into the industry. Why is this? What does this say about Indian mentality? Three decades on and the previously known sex sirens of the Indian film industry are today struggling to sign a leading role unless it’s a female centric script.

Globally in cinema it appears it is ok for men to age, but not for women. The older the man the more appealing he becomes, because along with his previous following he attracts a whole new generation of fans. However when a woman ages she not only loses her existing following but also never replaces it.

Then we have this. Monica Belluci, the world’s first older Bond girl who looks beyond incredible at 50 romances 47 year old Bond Daniel Craig. If the creative response becomes the global response then this duo could change the ‘toy boy’ perception. This simply won’t happen. Because although we know it, on screen Monica will look younger and sexier than Bond himself once again satisfying the stereotype that is Bond all over.

So why does it matter in real life and not on screen? Is ignorance bliss or is it simply because in real life you can have an opinion and care to make an issue heard? Like a lot of things the influence of what we see and hear is present but not necessarily impacting. Catherine Zeta Jones marrying Michael Douglas didn’t result in a frenzy of younger women dating older men. This was the acknowledged as the exception to the norm and life carried on.

I guess if we isolate this to Bollywood alone the conclusion is very different. It just isn’t happening. When actress Jiah Khan was paired opposite Amitabh Bachchan in India’s version of ‘Lolita’ there was very little if any acceptance or understanding. It was ridiculed and she was instantly stereotyped. This was cinema treated by Indians as reality. On the other hand in Hollywood this is happening all the time. On screen and off and it’s considered the norm.

Therefore no matter how ahead of the times the East wants to make themselves feel the reality is their mentality will always require some catching up. The West are far more liberal, maybe a little too much for some yet they are accepting and open to embracing the exceptions to everyday norms and both portraying as well as living these out generously and without judgement.


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