Bollywood’s cradle snatchers

The industry is full of older men being pitted opposite much younger heroines.

Some of Bollywood’s leading men seem to be drinking from the Fountain Of Youth, or so it seems. A few decades ago it was Rishi Kapoor in Bollywood and MG Ramachandran in the South who would work with younger women. Around the time that ‘Robot’ was being made Rajnikanth told us a story. “Recently I was at my brother’s place when his Rajasthani neighbour came to see me. He was over 60 years old. He asked me what happened to my hair. I said sadly: ‘Sab jhad gaye… chodo yaar.’ Then he asked if I have retired from films. I told him I am working on a film called ‘Robot’. He seemed very excited and asked me who the heroine is. I said, Aishwarya Rai. He got excited and started praising her, said ‘she is fantastic, kamaal ki ladki hai’, etc. Then, he asked me who is the hero? And the expressions he had when I told him that I am playing the lead!” said Rajni.

“He didn’t speak a single word for the next 10 minutes. He just kept staring at me. Later, as he was leaving, I overheard him saying ‘What has happened to Aishwarya? Why she is working opposite him?'” added the actor.

Funny, but true. But the moment Rajni dons the grease paint, his fans forget everything. A dash of Rajnikanth dust and this could become a new anti-ageing formula. Critics have been talking about how the industry’s 40-plus actors are romancing women younger than their daughters. Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan lead the pack.

Shah Rukh Khan:

Bollywood’s cradle snatchers

Katrina Kaif was merely nine years old when the SRK-Juhi Chawla starrer for YRF, ‘Darr’, released in 1993. Anushka Sharma had just turned 10 when the SRK-Rani-Kajol film for Karan Johar: ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ became one of 1998’s biggest hits.

The story of Shah Rukh Khan’s eternal youth seems to have started from these films and runs up till Yash Chopra’s swansong that has him paired opposite the two leading ladies — one 28 and the other a mere 24 years old.

When asked, SRK replied in jest: “The young girls like me and I like older women. See, I have the best… guys, just joking.”

Khan’s leading lady from ‘Don’, Priyanka Chopra, was 11 when ‘Baazigar’ released in 1993. Deepika Padukone was also just nine years old when Khan’s smash hit ‘DDLJ’ released in 1995.

Salman Khan:

Bollywood’s cradle snatchers

Salman Khan will turn 47 on December 27. His ‘Dabangg 2’ heroine, Sonakshi Sinha, was just two years old when ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ released in 1989. The actress says that Salman fans would have given her a thrashing had she called Sallu “uncle” and we know she is right. Khan’s leading ladies have historically been shy of being of legal age.

Sneha Ullal was just above 18 years old when she worked with Khan in ‘Lucky: No Time For Love’ seven years ago, making her only four years old when Khan got his big Bollywood break. Zarine Khan, Sallu’s heroine in ‘Veer’, was just four when the actor’s first film, ‘Meri Biwi Ka Jawab Nahin’ released in 1988.

Aamir Khan:

Bollywood’s cradle snatchers

Bollywood’s perfectionist Aamir Khan has been good with his film choices, but his heroines’ ages haven’t been as perfect. Aamir Khan made his debut as a lead actor in Ketan Mehta’s film ‘Holi’ when Asin was one-year-old. Aamir, who turned 47 in March, will work with Anushka Sharma in ‘Peekay’. The actress wasn’t even born when Khan started filming for his 1988 hit, ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’.

Akshay Kumar:

Bollywood’s cradle snatchers

He’s 45 today and his leading lady Sonakshi for the ‘Thuppakki’ remake is 25 years old. To his credit he also romanced the much older Rekha in ‘Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi’ and is now working for the third time with Sonakshi. Of course, we can disregard the fact that she was merely five years old when Kumar’s big ticket movie for Abbas and Mustan, ‘Khiladi’, opposite Ayesha Jhulka, released in 1992.

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