These days, Fridays often translate to multiple releases on different OTT platforms, reminding me a little of the pre-pandemic Friday release craze. However, that’s where the similarity ends.
One of the many things setting apart these OTT’s new releases from big theatre releases is the content being produced. In this case, specifically, the characters being written for older female actors.
Amazon Prime Video’s web series Tandav is a political drama where one of the main players in the game is an older female politician, played by the ever-graceful Dimple Kapadia.
As Anuradha Kishore, Kapadia constantly keeps Samar (an undeniably suave Saif Ali Khan) on his toes, wielding her years of political expertise and chasing her ambitions. Even when the writing falters, Kapadia’s magnetic screen presence keeps you hooked. After all, much like her character, Dimple has years of experience under her belt, including the knowledge of making average scripts work.
Similar to Kapadia, not so much in the role but in the actor’s cinematic strength, is Tanvi Azmi’s performance in Netflix’s film, Tribhanga.
A film that fails on multiple accounts, still shines in the few scenes where Azmi graces the screen. More importantly, her character, of a writer who chose to defy patriarchy and put herself over her family, is one that women in their 60s rarely represent on camera.
Of course, we can’t forget Sarika, who shines in Alankrita Shrivastava’s segment, ‘My Beautiful Wrinkles‘, in Amazon Prime’s Modern Love: Mumbai.
These are just the latest examples where actors, who had been relegated to cliched roles on the sidelines, are once again taking the centre stage. And it’s a welcome change indeed.
Whether it’s Sushmita Sen leading a crime drama (Aarya on Disney+ Hotstar) or Ratna Pathak Shah defying on-screen and off-screen tradition to play a single sexagenarian (Amazon Prime Video’s Unpaused), there are finally enough examples to show that a woman’s talent doesn’t fade with age.
Leaving aside a few ‘off-beat’ films or parallel cinema, female actors, especially of older age, continued to be boxed into unidimensional characters in mainstream cinema, while male actors of all ages played every character under the sun, all the while romancing actors half their age on camera.
However, slowly, the change started, with actors like Seema Pahwa (Shubh Mangal Saavdhan) gifting us relatable on-screen mothers and directors like Gauri Shinde (English Vinglish) and Amit Sharma (Badhaai Ho) bringing unique stories about middle-class women to the forefront.
Mainstream cinema finally gave us a handful of stories about women from different walks of life, and belonging to different age groups. Not all of them succeeded, but at least the change began.
And the gradual change finally burst open on the OTT platform, then whether it was falling in awe of Surekha Sikri’s foray into horror in Netflix’s Ghost Stories or watching Neena Gupta look after a village in Amazon Prime Video’s Panchayat.
Considering the freedom from Friday Box Office results and weekend collections that the OTT platforms enjoy, it’s fair to hope for more such characters to appear on our laptop screens.
I mean, if the rumors are to be believed, I’m definitely looking forward to watching everyone’s favourite on-screen Nani, Farida Jalal, become a part of Mirzapur’s crime-fuelled streets.
Because this is certainly not the end to what can be achieved when creators look beyond conventional tales and share stories that intrigue and inspire, excite, and engage – stories that matter.