Is senior citizen romance Bollywood’s next infatuation?

It all changed with Badhaai Ho (2018), which saw senior actors Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao’s full-blown romance driving the narrative. In the following years, shows like Taj Mahal 1989 and Aisa Waisa Pyaar, and Hum Do Hamare Do (2021) proved that senior citizen romance is no longer a forbidden topic for the Hindi entertainment industry. With films like Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani and Jab Khuli Kitaab, that explores the relationship shared between older couples, in the pipeline, it seems that Bollywood has taken to this template.

Director Abhishek Jain believes that these stories, like many others, are inspired from reality. “There’s an unseen and unspoken romance between the elderly, and it’s fascinating to explore it. But you’ve to be very conscious and sensitive while talking about a relationship like this; you can’t portray it as a whimsical love story,” he says.

Filmmaker Habib Faisal, who directed web series Home starring actors Annu Kapoor and Supriya Pilgaonkar, notes that stories about the older couples should be written in a way so that the younger audience can also resonate with them: “There was a time when stories dealing with older people were only focusing on the conflict between the grown-ups and the children, and the elderly were reduced to the hero’s father and mother. But in Home, the protagonists were in their 50s, and it was love that kept their relationship alive.”

Actor Ratna Pathak Shah, who played central parts in Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016) and Hum Do Hamare Do, asserts that older people “need love, sex and companionship” too. She adds, “Our stories need to be told. We’re a very important sub-sect of the movie-going audience and we’re contributing to the earnings of movies, and therefore, filmmakers have to take our interests into cognizance.”

Actor Sheeba Chadha, who has been a part of web series Taj Mahal 1989 and Aisa Waisa Pyaar adds, “I would want to be a part of an adult love story, told with from the lens of sensitivity and honesty. There are so many layers and nuances to a character and story today and you’ve the opportunity to explore them as much as you want. Earlier, women could be a part of a film where she could either be just the heroine or the all-crying mother.”

Agreeing with Jain, trade analyst Taran Adarsh feels that a story revolving around senior citizens must be “palatable and believable”, and credits the web space for the boom in such narratives. “There was a dearth of such stories prior to the OTT boom. The web has given wings to filmmakers, who are thinking out-of-the-box and aren’t scared of helming a film with no young stars headlining it,” he ends.

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