The unfortunate reality of Bollywood is that women, especially older women, are cast in an unpleasant light and aren’t given well-fleshed out and depth filled roles. They are often cast into the light of the bereaved mother or the upset widow. In some Bollywood films, women who were barely two-three years older to the lead actors were cast as their mothers. If that doesn’t show the hypocrisy of the entertainment world, then we don’t understand what would. Middle-aged men romancing 20-somethings is very common and even appreciated by people who watch those films. However, we rarely, if ever, get to see a situation where the role is in reverse. It would be like 30 something Ranbir Kapoor being paired as a love interest to Zeenat Aman or someone. Now doesn’t that sound odd? So why do we accept it when the woman is younger? However, in recent times, many directors have been making an effort to give older and veteran actresses more time in the limelight. We get to see them as complex characters of their own, rather than just some background character. Let’s take a look at seven such actresses whose age does not define how talented they are:
1. Dimple Kapadia In Tandav
Dimple Kapadia is no stranger to playing relatively unconventional movie roles. In the film Dil Chahta Hai, she plays an alcoholic who is going through a terrible divorce. She also plays the love interest of a much younger actor, Akshaye Khanna in the film. However, her role on the OTT show Tandav has everyone talking. She plays the character of Anuradha Kishore, a ruthless, powerful and cutthroat politician. Even during the show’s low moments, we see her character stand out and truly prove that experience makes a world of a difference when it comes to acting.
2. Ratna Pathak Shah In Lipstick Under My Burkha
Ratna Pathak Shah is known for playing the quirky mom in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and the hoity toity Mrs. Sarabhai in Sarabhai Versus Sarabhai for most of our generation. In the film Lipstick Under My Burkha, she plays a lonely widow named Usha who is only referred to as “Buaji” by those in her neighborhood. One day she crosses paths with a handsome swimming instructor by the name of Jaspal and eventually begins talking provocatively with him over the phone. When you watch the movie, you can clearly see how Ratna Pathak Shah goes from being this sad matronly figure to blooming into a woman in love. Her versatility as an actress really gets pushed to its limits in this role.
3. Neena Gupta In Panchayat
Neena Gupta has been on quite the role and has been a part of some very interesting films in recent times. She had played the role of a middle-aged woman who found herself accidentally impregnated by her husband in the film Badhaai Ho. In Panchayat we see Neena Gupta take on the role of a matriarch who has to run an entire village. Going by the name of Manju Devi, Neena plays a tough as nails Panchayat head who clearly had to throw a few punches to get to her immense position of power.
4. Tanvi Azmi In Tribhanga
Tribhanga is a beautiful film about the multifaceted lives of three women. The film marked not just Kajol’s debut but also Tanvi Azmi’s. She was last seen on the big screen in the film Thappad. In Tribhanga, Tanvi plays a fierce career woman who always puts her passion for words above even her own children and how deeply it impacts the mother-daughter dynamic.
5. Seema Pahwa In Shubh Mangal Saavdhan
Seema Pahwa plays the role of a mother that we can all learn to appreciate. She plays the mother of the lead character Sugandha (played by Bhumi Pednekar) and is shown as a super supportive mother. She lets her daughter live life on her own terms and doesn’t try to pressure her or force her into choosing the path she chose.
6. Surekha Sikri In Ghost Stories
Ghost Stories is an interesting series of short films directed by acclaimed directors, Zoya Akhtar, Karan Johar, Dibakar Bannerjee, and Anurag Kashyap. Surekha Sikri plays an old woman who hires a caretaker in the film. We see her play a very rude but lost character who is going through her last few days. While we’re more used to seeing her play the conventional happy, granny figure, this role truly takes the cake for thrills and chills.
7. Shefali Shah In Delhi Crime
Shefali Shah plays the hardcore DCP Vartika Chaturvedi on this limited series. The series is based around the awful Delhi gang rape that sent shivers down the spine of every Indian in the country. Despite this being an extremely heavy role, we see Shefali Shah play the role with ease and truly draw us into the story with her remarkable performance.
Age truly is just a number and we need to stop categorizing older women into stereotypical roles and start appreciating them for their talent and experience. So let’s look beyond the conventions and start giving these phenomenal actresses the credit that they deserve. Do let us know all of your thoughts on this article in the comment section below!
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