Sooraj Barjatiya, the flagbearer of family dramas in Hindi Cinema, has been creating a lot of buzz with the his new film ‘Uunchai’. After a 7-year hiatus, the Rajshri Productions honcho has shifted his focus from majestic dance numbers to making ‘oldies’ scale the tallest mountain in the world.
Starring veterans like Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher, Neena Gupta, Boman Irani, Sarika and Danny Denzongpa, the movie is a tale of friendship, perseverance but most importantly carries the message that ‘Age is just a number’. As Uunchai releases in theatres today, here’s a look at how the cast has redefined the saying, ‘Art is ageless’.
Age is No Barrier
Amitabh Bachchan has truly proved that age is just a number when it comes to superstardom. The 80-year-old is one of the busiest actors in Bollywood and is one of those rare stars who are able to pull as big a crowd at 30 as at 80. From essaying roles that challenge societal norms like in ‘Pink’ to giving a lesson on how to live life in ‘101 Not Out’, this Bollywood biggie continues to stand tall as an example of ‘age is no barrier’.
Another such eminent name and also a part of the ensemble in ‘Uunchai’ is Boman Irani. The self-proclaimed ‘late bloomer’ received accolades for his work in ‘Munnabhai M.B.B.S’ at the age of 44. Then, there was no looking back. In an interview with News18 in 2018, Irani recalled how once his previous employer had told him that he would have to start at the bottom to get to the top. Irani said he did exactly as he was told and has ever since catapulted from a waiter to one of finest actors of the industry with a host of critically acclaimed movies to his credit.
Thirty seven years have passed since Anupam Kher made his debut in Bollywood with ‘Saaransh’, a film where a 28-year-old Kher played the role of a 65-year-old father. Ever since, the actor has been typecast into roles of the elderly, be it the aging father in ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun’ or a doting friend in ‘Lamhe’.
However, a break from the monotony came in March this year when the actor, known for his opinions, zeal and acting chops, shook the internet with pictures of his toned body that he put up on the occasion of his 67th birthday. Alongside the photos, the veteran actor also shared his deep-seated desire to strive towards fitness and feel like the best version of himself.
“Happy birthday to me! Today as I start my 67th year, I am motivated and excited to present a new vision I have for myself! These pics are an example of the slow progress I have made in the last couple of years. 37 years ago you met a young actor who debuted in the most unconventional way and played a 65-year-old man. Throughout my career, I have tried to explore every single avenue as a performer. But there is one dream that I always had inside me, but never did anything to make it a reality.” Kher wrote.
An effort on part of the thespian to reinvent how the world views him worked wonders, with many netizens hailing him for starting off a fitness journey in his later years.
Old is Bold
90s fame actor Sarika’s career has seen a wave of highs and lows. Taking three sabbaticals from the film industry, the actor moved away from films at the young age of 25 to raise a family, and ventured into sound and costume designing. Her screen appearances have been sporadic ever since. She was offered a refreshing role in Prime Video’s anthology Modern Love which essentially pushed her out of her comfort zone.
Playing an older woman who tries to deal with the sexual inclination of a younger man towards her in ‘My Beautiful Wrinkles’ was not easy but Sarika’s ‘Dilbar’ aced it and how. When asked about her experience of portraying an older woman who becomes an object of a younger man’s desires, Sarika told News18 that the storyline is not a taboo until you think in your mind it is.
“To be honest, challenges, taboo, I don’t recognise these words. Not only because maybe I’ve not experienced it in this particular context but otherwise also. Yes, I think things are still the same in some spaces in society but otherwise it’s not taboo, it’s not a challenge in that sense. It’s a challenge if you look at it in your mind that ‘oh my god, this story is like that’. Then it becomes a challenge. But that’s not how it is. And it’s a part of something beautiful.”
‘They Don’t Write for Women My Age Anymore’
Neena Gupta has had a stellar career with films like Mandi, Rihaee, Drishti and Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda as well as popular TV shows like Mirza Ghalib and Saans. Eager to find an identity in her later years, the actor started scouting for roles only to be rejected or replaced by actors who were more famous than her in their haydays. However, dejection could not get to Neena who was determined to find her footing which led her to take a bold step.
In 2017, she shared a picture of herself on Instagram and captioned it, “I live in Mumbai and working, am a good actor looking for good parts to play.” Neena’s bold move was lauded by many in the film fraternity including Priyanka Chopra and by celebrity designer and daughter Masaba Gupta who supported her mother.
The actress, who was then slightly nervous about the post, did not know what it would manifest into. A believer of ‘they don’t write for women my age anymore’ as daughter Masaba puts it, Neena got offered the role of a mother who undergoes pregnancy in midlife in ‘Badhai Ho’ which totally changed the course of her career.
“I did not get work because of my Insta posts, I got it because of Badhaai Ho. That film changed the course for me. I was recognised as a good actor and that got me more work and respect. It’s unbelievable at times to see such good work coming to me now,” Neena was quoted as saying in an interview with ETimes.
It’s surreal how the cast members of Uunchai are the living embodiments of the film’s message – don’t write us off because we are old. The have requested the audience to view the film as a story of three very believable people who in their own very simple way challenge the perception that 60 is the age to retire.
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