Ankita Kanabar looks at the trend of young heroes playing old men on screen

The quintessential Bollywood hero triumphs over his enemy, has no qualms about indulging in fisticuffs to teach baddies a lesson, and, of course, romances

the heroine. Occasionally, a hero will don some extra greasepaint to look far older than his years to play an old man on screen.

One canalt39t help but remember Amitabh Bachchans iconic role in alt39 Mahaanalt39, alt39 Aakhree Raastaalt39 or his character in alt39 Kabhi Kabhialt39 as he ages.

Rajesh Khannas role in alt39 Avataralt39 is still considered one of his best; in fact, the film is a classic.

Most young actors of those times, including Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar, and Jeetendra, had no qualms ageing on screen to make their character look convincing.

Anupam Kher essayed the role of a 65- year- old man in alt39 Saaranshalt39 when he was just 28 years old.

Ironically, in real life, actors will do whatever it takes to hide their actual age.

Geriatric forays seem few and far between these days. Although the trend cannot be dismissed since there seem to be instances of young men playing aged characters even today. SRK turned old in alt39 Veer Zaraalt39 as the journey of Veer and Zara was depicted over the years. In Mani Ratnams alt39 Gurualt39, actor Abhishek Bachchan portrayed the character of Gurukant Desai as a teen right up to the time he turned old. Actor Ranbir Kapoor, who has been playing an old grouch in a new series of commercials, is apparently sporting a look that he will carry in his next film, Anurag Basus alt39 Barfi!alt39. Akshay Kumar recently played a double role in an ad, one young and one old. Sometime ago, perfectionist Aamir Khan had also gone grey- haired for a TV commercial.

We wonder if such portrayals of their favourite actors attract the audience. Trade analyst Taran Adarsh opines, ” Cinema is getting more real now and the audience is liking it. Seeing a young actor sporting an old look does arouse curiosity among the audience.” Trade pundit Vinod Mirani has a different opinion: ” Ultimately, its the story that matters; the script. Today, with theatre ticket prices so high, the audience doesnalt39t want to take a risk. Only if one hears good things about a film, will they watch it. Just a different look doesnalt39t attract audiences to theatres. But obviously when someone as young as Ranbir is portrayed as an old character, it might grab eye balls and make the audience think.” Taran notes, ” The actors are ready to experiment. There used to be a time in Hindi cinema, where acting was only about wearing designer clothes or looking the best. But thats not the case any more. Like I said, cinema is getting more real, and so are the characters. It is something that people can relate to. Also, the mindset of the audience has changed, and they are ready to accept stars in various roles, different from their usual image.” Vinod echoes this opinion, ” Playing old or young characters doesnalt39t matter. Actors are constantly looking for something that challenges them and gives them an opportunity to prove their versatility.

It gets compulsive sometimes to do that. And changing looks come along. For instance, in Jeetendras films he sported a new wig in almost every film. Its a part of their profession.” What probably helps keep the audience engaged is that these young heartthrobs also essay roles playing their actual age, or younger, in the same film.

However, these alt39 ageingalt39 heroes are admittedly few and far between these days. Vinod says, ” Actors going old, for their roles used to happen a lot earlier. Most of the veteran actors have done that. But scenarios change. They were original films, scripts. Now, they donalt39t make such dramas.

Films today are of a short duration, and the audience also doesnalt39t have the patience to watch such long dramas.” While we agree, we believe the trend is not quite extinct.

Amitabh Bachchan in alt145 Mahaanalt39A still from alt145 Aakhree

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