Shruti is 30 and admits that she is still a virgin. Nishigandha Dasgupta is in her 30s is a focused corporate woman, who fights the complications in the highly competitive world of business. Shruti and Nishigandha are the leading ladies in Life in a... Metro and Corporate respectively.
Konkona Sensharma and Bipasha Basu, the two actors playing the roles, haven't spent too many years in the industry - but they are not hesitant to play mature women. And they are not the only ones.
Tabu, who played a middle-aged mother in Astitva (2000), a film that marked the turning point in her career, after having played the typical heroine in Vijaypath among others. And Cheeni Kum now has her playing a 34-year-old.
Sushmita Sen played her age in Filhaal (2002), Samay (2003), Zindaggi Rocks and Chingaari (both in 2006). Even the redoubtable sex bomb Mallika Sherawat played a mother in Murder, which was only her third film.
Welcome to a time when our leading ladies are happy experimenting with roles that require them to play characters closer to their own age. "And they are not hiding their maturity because a lot of ‘real' films are being made. Audiences are also beginning to accept the change," feel trade analysts.
What is also interesting is that these are the films that have got them recognition as actors. It took Corporate to complete Basu's transformation from a bimbette to an actor of substance.
Ditto for Sushmita and Tabu. "I wanted to cast Tabu and Amitabh Bachchan in my film and thought of characters that would fit them," says R Balki, director of Cheeni Kum.
Agrees director Madhur Bhandarkar, who directed Corporate, "Actors are not insecure any more." And as Konkona says, "Glamour is of little importance. It is the character that matters."
No wonder that our heroines are not shying away from shedding their glamorous images to fit into these roles. "I have been trained by the sheer destined fact that I went on to become Miss Universe. So, I came back to the world as somebody very proper. And to do a film like Chingaari after so many years meant breaking down a lot of barriers to scream, shout, yell and to show vulnerability was tough," Sushmita had said in an earlier interview to HT.
The fact that Sushmita went to play a mother in both Zindaggi Rocks and Chingaari shows that she was comfortable doing it.
But trends are flirtatious in Bollywood and it remains to be seen whether this one will stay.
As authour and columnist Shobhaa De points out, these films may always remain on the fringes... they can never go mainstream, since the content is too urban in character. "But even as niche products, they are worth supporting," she feels.