Age no bar, but love baar-baar?
The typical Mills and Boon romance between a grey-haired man and a PYT has set many readers' heart racing.
But on screen adaptations of the older guy-younger woman love stories have not got a thumbs up at the Bollywood BO.
While Anil Kapoor and Sridevi in "Lamhe" had the critics all agog, the
film failed to make a mark at the box office. Much later, the Amitabh
Bachchan-Jiah Khan starrer, "Nishabd", even failed to impress the
critics. But on TV, it's a theme that's found favour time and again.
From "Astitva...Ek Prem Kahani" to the soon-to-be-aired "Kuchh Toh Log
Kahengey" (KTLK), which stars the young Kirti Kamra and the much older
Mohnish Behl, television viewers bridge the generation gap with ease.
Ditto for young men pursuing much older female love interests. While an
"Astitva" was appreciated on TV, "Leela" did not garner a positive
response at the BO.
Rajan Shahi, who's directed a serial on the theme in the past, "Dil Hai
Ki Manta Nahin", and is now producing "KTLK", reasons that while the
entertainment industry finds love between couples of disparate ages an
exciting theme, television as a medium is better suited to explore the
complexities of such love stories. "It is because this subject requires a
lot of detailing and needs to be handled with a lot of sensitivity. To
build up the interest of the viewers for such a subject in just three
hours is not possible. So, while television shows on the theme have
surprised viewers, the movies on the subject have shocked them. Most of
the films have been quite over the top and bold for viewers," he says.
Even a big star cast cannot rescue a movie if the subject is not
treated well, avers Ajai Sinha, director of "Astitiva...Ek Prem Kahani",
which was among the first Indian TV serials to be made on the theme.
"Amitabh Bachchan couldn't ensure the success of "Nishabd"... Yeh koi
aam topic nahi hai, it needs to be dealt with the heart and not the
mind," he adds. Sinha also emphasises that while TV makes such romances
seem "real and believable", movies add too much drama to it.
A point that's reiterated by film critic Taran Adarsh. "The movies
failed to appeal to the audience because they didn't merit to be box
office hits. The subject was not dealt with in the way it should have
been. It is very unfortunate that no film director has so far been able
to come out with a movie on the theme with the potential to be a BO
hit," he says.
course, there are exceptions such as the Akshaye Khanna and Dimple
Kapadia romance in "Dil Chahta Hai", which did not become a
speed-breaker for the film's success. The subtle age difference between
Ranbir Kapoor and Konkona Sen Sharma in "Wake Up Sid" also did not raise
too many eyebrows.
But film critic Komal Nahata reasons, "The subject does not have mass
appeal, and works for only a certain class of movie-goers. For the rest,
this kind of romance does not appeal."
While Saurabh Tewari, fiction head of Imagine TV, feels that a "Lamhe"
was probably made ahead of its time, he attributes the success of the
"Cheeni Kum" variety of romances on TV on the viewership base: "Women
make up the chunk of TV viewers, and they love to see such stories," he
And why not? For
one, such topics are a welcome relief from the run-of-the-mill
saas-bahu soaps that have come to typify content on Indian TV channels.
Exactly why actor Ram Kapoor
readily agreed to do "Kasamh Se", a serial in which he played the older love interest of Prachi Desai
"When Ekta came up with this theme of a love story between an old guy
and a very young girl, I immediately said yes. Not even for a second had
I any apprehensions about doing the role nor was I unsure of its
success. Such themes give a different dimension to television
programming and so, work well," he points out.