Contrary to the earlier notion of age and marital status proving to be a roadblock in the career of female actors, the small screen space offers a positive sight of change, and it;s quite evident looking at the current shows on TV.
Be it Rajashree Thakur in Shaadi Mubarak, Shweta Tiwari in Mere Dad Ki Dulhan, Juhi Parmar in Hamariwali Good News, Sucheeta Trivedi in Indiawaali Maa, Shweta Gulati in Tera Yaar Hoon Main, Rupali Ganguly in Anupamaa or Tannaz Irani in Apna Time Bhi Aayega — actors who are nearing or crossed 40, are married and have kids, are essaying the leading roles on small screen. While some say the trend is slowly catching up, others highlight that TV to an extent offers a level playing ground.
“I remember Neena Gupta’s Saans was one of its kind shows in those times. There weren’t many shows with older female actors in the front. But now that scenario is changing. People have started thinking beyond the regular. The concept around a heroine’s age, how she should look like are giving way to how talented she is. It’s a good time for actors,” says Thakur.
Trivedi feels that ability and not age should be the deciding factor. And the reason she said yes to Indiawaali Maa is because her character has its layers and quirks.
“I’m particular, yes, because it is important to do justice to every character. Age doesn’t and shouldn’t determine your ability to lead a show on your shoulders. It is one’s craftsmanship as an artist that makes the difference,” she explains.
Gulati concurs that it was high time that makers and audiences moved over such things.
“I play a mother to a 17-year-old in the show and I’m told I shouldn’t have taken up this part, as I might get stereotyped. But that was already happening. People expected me to do glamorous roles only. Also, at my age I can play a mother but that shouldn’t be just a supporting part. It’s short-sighted behaviour of those who feel after an age or if married an actor loses charm. Charm is defined by abilities and not by her personal life,” she says.
However, Ganguly is quick to point that there are still only a few makers on TV who are taking risks of thinking differently.
“Otherwise, it’s always about playing the hero or heroine’s mother. I’ve crossed 40 but when I’m working my age affect my performance. If that so then why are we still giving importance to someone’s age over her performance is something I would never understand. But now TV is now warming up to the idea of older heroines. If this trend continues, we would get to see more good work,” she adds.
Weighing in on this change, Irani believes that it’s important for an actor to put her foot down if she is not happy with the character.
“Ab woh din gaya ki umar ho gaya hai to appko simple roles milenge, kahin side pe ya crowd mein khade ho jaane wale. In these 27 years in the industry, I’ve worked enough and earned a name. I won’t settle for anything less. I don’t mind playing my age or even older if my role is substantial. I think TV has that scope right now unlike films. In fact I played a 60-year-old in a play because the role was beautiful,” says Irani, who plays the antagonist in her show.
Gulati feels the change is happening at a slower pace and is possible because of the audience. Thakur too agrees but adds on a different note, “I feel we’ve been giving the audience the same thing and somewhere they also get used to it. We often say that the audience aren’t ready to accept but have we been making the right content for them? In fact viewers want to see something new. Now times of web they won’t accept anything mediocre.”
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Author tweets @Shreya_MJ