Bollywood’s view of female actors has always been very narrow. As soon as women turn a certain age, they are no longer ‘sexy’ or ‘attractive’ enough to be on screen, while men continue to play lead roles alongside women half their age. They’re put in a mould and find themselves cast away from mainstream movies. 

‘You can’t get married, what will happen to your career?” 

“You can’t have kids, nobody likes an actress who has children.”

We’ve come a long way from having women plays side kicks to male leads, to having ‘female-oriented’ movies that focus on the real issues. But that’s not seen as often as men who pick up titular roles, romance women half their age and give the female actors a shelf life. 

However, there are some female actors who have been a defining part of the change, that includes Sushmita Sen. She hasn’t let her age become a factor when it comes to her career, constantly showing us that nothing can hold her back. 

The actor who just made her digital debut in the titular role of Aarya has proven that female actors don’t ‘fade away’ instead they age like fine wine. The show puts her in the spotlight and shows off what an amazing actor she is. Minus the drama and fluff that comes with Bollywood films, this show is all about Sushmita, playing a role her age, and doing a damn fine job at it. Not only is the character strong, independent and fearless, Sushmita’s choice to take the role was as well. 

There are certain scenes in the show, where she plays a drug lord, a mother, a daughter and a housewife, that change your perception of her completely. Every monologue, every dialogue, is delivered with conviction, paired with a finale that leaves you with goosebumps – this show is Sushmita Sen at her finest. Maybe because there was no male lead fighting for the screen time? We’ll never know. 

This might be her best work till date, after Filhaal… of course. And this comes at the age of 44 with two daughters. She even has a workout flex in a few scenes and it only made us appreciate her more. Sushmita is a living example of how age should never stand in the way of talent and dreams. Because at a time when the industry is quick to label you as the ‘older’ actor, she has proven them wrong with this show. 

All images are screenshots from Disney+ Hotstar.