Old is gold! (Column: Bollywood Country)

I wonder why filmmakers shy away from narrating tales about elderly people with senior actors in the lead roles.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 | 3:42:18 AM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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old is gold

I wonder why filmmakers shy away from narrating tales about elderly people with senior actors in the lead roles.

Well-narrated stories revolving around ripe old age have takers, but such efforts are few and far between.

Remember how much everyone appreciated and enjoyed watching the funny mother-in-law and daughter-in-law's bantering and drinking sessions in "Vicky Donor" played by Kamlesh Gill and Dolly Ahluwalia respectively?

And how can we forget middle-aged doctor Baldev Chaddha, essayed by Annu Kapoor to the hilt, who was central to the hit movie on sperm donation that released in 2012 and pleased all and sundry.

Interestingly, viewers were not only in awe of the way-out story in Shoojit Sircar's directorial venture, they connected well with the humble and modest characters,

including Ayushmann Khurrana, a debutant then, in "Vicky Donor" and thanks to the positive reception, the Rs.5 crore film turned into a gold spinner at the box office with Rs.45 crore profit.

This was not the only one.

Equally entertaining was Farrukh Jaffar as the foul- mouthed and short-tempered Amma in 2010's highly acclaimed and moneymaking dark comedy "PEEPLI [Live]". Wrapped in rags, the 'bidi'-addicted and bed-ridden Amma's one-liners had the viewers in splits.

Sans glamour and big stars, the Rs.7 crore dusty drama, produced by Aamir Khan and directed by Anusha Rizvi, recovered its cost even before its release and upped the ante for the others.

So, it's just a myth that only big stars, glamorous actresses, opulent sets, bewitching backdrops and songs and dances can pull in the crowds!

Often viewers receive unwarranted blame for a dearth of such stories, but they indeed appreciate sincere efforts.

They adored Naseeruddin Shah as an ageing lover in "Ishqiya" and the song "Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji" entered everyone's list of favourites. Even in "Dedh Ishqiya", his role as a lovestruck oldie struck the right chord with the viewers.

A middle-aged middle-class couple's tale in "Do Dooni Chaar", shot on a shoestring budget, did so well that it became one of the best films of 2010. The Neetu-Rishi Kapooor starrer even won a National Award for the best Hindi feature film and this was like the icing on the cake for director Habib Faisal.

In the mainstream, viewers related to the woes of a retired couple, essayed by Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini, in "Baghban". The emotional drama moved the

audiences to tears and turned into the biggest crowd- puller.

Recently, "Club 60" won appreciation.

These success stories are testimony to the fact that wrinkled-faced characters with salt and pepper hair never get in the way of a good yarn.

Forthcoming movie "Aankhon Dekhi" is one of those rare attempts by filmmaker Rajat Kapoor. Set in Old Delhi, the film will revolve around an old man, played by Sanjay Mishra.

Even the "Gang of Ghosts" cast is crowded with actors like Anupam Kher, Asrani, and Suarabh Shukla, other than Mahie Gill and Sharman Joshi.

According to the 2011 census, India is home to 100 million elderly, but the over $2 billion (Rs.120 billion) Indian film industry hardly reflects this in its narratives. At 3.09 percent, the growth rate of elderly is higher than that of the general population.

Spinning stories around the elderly, their plight and predicament, their hopes and aspirations should be a natural progression that out filmmakers should look at.

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