Actors Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Kajol are set to make Bollywood comebacks next year. Interestingly, they’re defying the age-old Bollywood stereotype that marriage — and having babies — means that your acting career is more or less over.
Ash (who will be seen in Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Sanjay Gupta’s Jazbaa), and Kajol (whose comeback film will be produced by Ajay Devgn) are the latest on a list of Bollywood moms who are reviving their career.
Madhuri Dixit Nene and Juhi Chawla were seen in Gulaab Gang this year. The former starred in Dedh Ishqiya as well. Raveena Tandon is also set for a comeback, with Shab and Bombay Velvet lined up for release in 2015.
Commenting on the change of perception about mothers on the big screen, trade analyst Komal Nahta says, "Nowadays, if film-makers have a subject for an actress who is married and may have kids, they don’t mind approaching her. Being a mother is no longer an impediment."
Film-maker Pradeep Sarkar, who recently worked with married actor Rani Mukerji in Mardaani, puts things in perspective. "The perception is fading because our actresses are no longer just heroes’ love interest, or eye candy. It’s more about character-oriented roles these days," he says.
Having said that, Bollywood mothers insist that kids will remain their first priority. "If I go on signing films, I’ll have no time. My kids are really young and my first priority will always be my family. I’m not in the rat race to prove myself anymore," Raveena told HT Café. She reportedly refused to enact kissing scenes in Shab. Her reasoning was that she didn’t do them at the peak of her career either.
According to exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi, exposure to cinema from around the world has also played a part in this change. He says, "We have perpetually maturing audiences who know that if they are watching a film, it’s only about the character and not the ‘real’ actor. And we, as a movie-going nation, have matured a lot, thanks to global exposure."