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Bollywood's 40-plus brigade

As Bollywood?s young guns struggle, older heroes continue to rule the roost.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 17:40 IST
Princy Jain/ HT City
Princy Jain/ HT City

Bollywood’s ageing. And the audience doesn’t seem to mind. While the three Khans -Shah Rukh, Aamir and Salman- are 40, others in the saleable lot- Saif Ali Khan, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgan- are also nearing that mark. Not to forget about Sunjay Dutt, who turned 46 last September.

Boys face the blues
The situation looks even more ironical when you consider that the boys in the hood are mostly struggling. With the exception of Abhishek Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan (who seems to get a hit only when dad Rakesh Roshan directs him) they are all biting the dust. Fardeen Khan, Zayed Khan, Vivek Oberoi or Shahid Kapur are just not being able to hit the bulls eye at the box-office. In contrast, the nearing 40/over 40 lot still remain the preferred choices of filmmakers. SRK, despite Paheli and Swades, remains King Khan. Aamir proves he can still carry off playing a 26-year-old in Rang De Basanti. And Salman, all said and done, peddles the biggest hit of 2005 by way of No Entry.

It’s all about raw appeal

At 40, Shah Rukh Khan remains the baadshah of Bollywood. He is the most sought after star and a brand in himself.

So, what is it about the men that the boys lack? Says trade analyst Taran Adarsh: "The fact that our 40-year-old heroes keep delivering hits time and again proves that the audience still loves them, despite their age." However, he adds that it’s time that Bollywood looked for saleable options among the younger lot: "Take Aamir, for instance. He has done a fine job in

Rang De...,

but his age shows in certain frames. Showbiz needs fresh faces constantly."

Agrees director Sanjay Gupta, who has had successes banking on aged heroes by way of




: "I would never make a film based on college life with a 40-something star as my hero. I would rather project boys as men than the other way round."

Janta knows best

But not all filmmakers agree. Says writer-director Vinta Nanda (who made White Noise last year): "If an actor at the age of 40 can pull off a character that’s 20 years younger, and impress his fans, what’s wrong about it? Commercial cinema is about a star’s appeal, and not about how old he is."


director Ravi Chopra is optimistic that the new order will take over soon. "Abhishek, Zayed and John Abraham have the potential," he says. "I feel it’s just that they haven’t got their due opportunities. These boys hold the promise to take forward the legacy of Bollywood in the future."

Till then, Bollywood buffs are happy with 40-something heroes.

First Published: Jan 29, 2006 20:00 IST