Bollywood movies often resort to stereotypes when it comes to portraying the older generation on the silver screen. They are either represented as extremely pious like the kirtan-singing-daadis in Kal Ho Naa Ho or as the ‘modern’ daadi from Vicky Donor who sips whiskey every evening. If these fail, then they are depicted as frail and fragile.
A common motif that plays across in most movies is how the older generation is used like a prop with a unidimensional character arc. They simply serve one purpose – that is, to support the lead. However, there are movies where the older generation is portrayed realistically. These movies redefine what it’s like being old and also trace their personal journeys truthfully.
Here are nine such movies which move away from stereotyping the older generation and portray them as complete human beings with their own flaws and perfections.
1. Uunchai (2022)
Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Boman Irani, and Anupam Kher, this movie takes us into the lives of three aged friends. The friends decide to embark on a trek to the Everest Base Camp to fulfil the last wish of their friend. During the trek, these friends open up about the personal, emotional, and spiritual aspects of their life. They fight their physical limitations and discover what freedom truly means.
2. Badhaai Ho (2018)
Our society has very conflicting notions when it comes to sex and pregnancy. A middle-aged woman gets pregnant and ends up becoming the topic of embarrassment for her whole family. Her sons start avoiding the parents while the mother-in-law is visibly upset. The movie touches upon a very important theme of how we view sex and intimacy as something that is only reserved for newlywed couples. It also brings out our unwillingness to acknowledge our parents as being sexually active. The movie stars Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao in lead roles.
3. Khujli (2017)
Starring Jackie Shroff and Neena Gupta, this short film explores how two middle-aged parents try to wrap their heads around the modern-day definitions of intimacy. The conversation happens when the mother finds a pair of handcuffs in her son’s room. What ensues next is hilarious as the parents try to navigate their desires with their limited understanding and resources.
4. Sharmaji Namkeen (2022)
Society often tells the older generation that past a certain age they should only confine themselves to their homes. And that is what happens in this movie. A 58-year-old retired man finds his true calling in cooking. He finds this passion while he moonlights as a cook at private parties. However, his talent and his aspirations are belittled not only by society but also by his son.
5. 102 Not Out (2018)
A 102-year-old man wishes to live long enough to set the record for the oldest living male. He wishes to not live in despair but rather live his life like a youngster. He looks for ways to inject happiness into the life of his 75-year-old son. The movie touches upon how the older generation learns to live their life only when they cross a certain age. The film stars Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor in lead roles.
6. Mukti Bhawan (2016)
This comedy-drama revolves around the life of Daya (a 77-year-old man) and his son, Rajiv. Daya wishes to attain salvation in Varanasi. His dutiful son is left with no option but to leave everything behind and accompany his father on the trip. The movie explores themes like companionship in old age and the relationship parents share with their children when they get adamant about things.
7. Saand Ki Aankh (2019)
Two women in their 60s accidentally discover their shooting skills. Chandro and Prakashi want to chase their dreams and they participate in various competitions. However, that comes with a cost. They live in a patriarchal society which has clearly defined the rules and laws women ought to follow. Despite the age-inappropriate casting, the movie manages to get the point across.
8. Piku (2015)
Bhaskar was unlike any parent Bollywood movies had given us earlier. While he is dependent on his daughter, he is her strongest soldier. He often tells Piku that a woman does not need a man to complete her. He does get irrational at places, but that comes because of his experiences. Starring Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, and Irrfan Khan, the movie is a joyride.
9. Rajma Chawal (2018)
There are times when the relationship between a father and his child gets strained owing to multiple reasons. In this movie, a father hopes to revive his relationship with his resentful son. The father wishes to talk to his son on social media but the son blocks him. The father ends up assuming the persona of a woman just to talk to his son. This comedy film explores the emotional layers of this distraught father.
What other films would you add to this list?