Unarguably, the mainstream Bollywood is drenched in countless stereotypes, and the casting decisions only serve to accentuate them.
If you wish to remember Seema Biswas as fierce and gutsy Phulan Devi from Bandit Queen, then the latest Akshay Kumar-starrer Bachchhan Pandey will get your rage flaring.
In this mafia-comedy, Seema Biswas (57), an acclaimed thespian, who delivered some of the finest performances throughout her career, is playing Akshay Kumar’s (54) mother.
Bachchhan Pandey is a film in which a 54-year-old man romances girls half his age; whereas a 57-year-old woman sits on the floor and if I claim that she uttered more than 4 lines, it would be an exaggeration.
If you still argue that mature actresses are grouped in the maa-bua-chachi scheme of things in a boatload of other films too, then all we can ask of a celebrated actress is that she gets some deserving screen time, right?
Allow me to enlighten you: Biswas portrays a mother who hasn’t spoken to her son in ten years, owing to his life choices. What do you think the value of a character will be when she has no interaction with the protagonist, who apparently is the centre of his universe?
When actresses reach an age threshold, they’re typecast into specific roles. But, well, actors too grow old, right? Or did I learn some different science?
While men in Bollywood continue to get complex, challenging roles as they grow older, women are draped in pale sarees playing the mothers of the same actors they were coupled with years ago.
Bachchhan Pandey did hit the right nerves in a touching climax sequence where the mother and her son finally have a conversation. Yet, we can’t wrap our heads around the casting choices, to begin with.
Bollywood, in nefarious ways, reeks of casual ageism and it’s unfortunate because it largely traps women, leaving a narrow window for them to play leading roles.