Love in the twilight years

Amrita Prasad
Friday, 17 May 2019

The narrative revolving around love in Bollywood films, the web space and short films, is increasingly seeing romantic relationships among older adults

Bringing up various issues with subtlety, Amazon Prime Video’s Made in Heaven also beautifully dealt with the subject of ageism, proving that irrespective of one’s age, one can find love.

In one of the episodes, Deepti Naval (Gayatri Mathur), a wealthy sophisticated elderly widow, falls in love with Rahul Vohra (Bijoy Chatterjee) and wants to marry for the second time. However, her children — all grown up and married with kids, have an objection with their parents finding love again and willing to give marriage  a second chance. 

Their onscreen children may have disapproved of their romance, however, the audience appreciated their relationship and felt that it was like a breath of fresh air and liberating. Those who have watched the recent Bollywood movie Badhaai Ho will recall how a 50-something couple rediscover their love and are planning to welcome their third child. The film was quite unique and endearing. 

Zee5’s Yours Truly is a romantic drama showcasing the story of a 57-year-old woman in love. Based on Annie Zaidi’s short story — The One That Was Announced, this soulful drama shows government employee Mithi Kumar (Soni Razdan) falling in love with the voice of the station announcer — her invisible but constant companion as she goes to work every day. Short films Khujli and Once Again, starring Jackie Shroff and Neena Gupta, and Neeraj Kabi and Shefali Shah, respectively, bring forth the beauty of eternal love that blooms between individuals/ couples who aren’t necessarily young. 

The narrative revolving around love in Bollywood films, the web space and short films, is increasingly seeing romantic relationships among older adults. Quite a refreshing change we would say. There was a time when love in the entertainment space only involved the young in their 20s or actors pretending to be in their 20s. But scriptwriters, directors and producers are now willing to look beyond.   

Soni Razdan says that it felt great to play a character so real and relatable as Mithi, a lonely middle-aged woman looking for love. “Yours Truly is a beautiful love story where Mithi talks to her love interest through love letters taking viewers back to yesteryears and I really enjoyed playing the role. Also, we have been gratified by the warm audience response for the movie and I am thankful to Zee5 for focussing on content built around a subject sensitive as this. In earlier times, society was not very accepting of senior citizens falling in love but with such movies being made, people are learning to accept that love prevails over time, age and social norms,” she says.   

Producer Nabarun Banerjee says that love in the teens and early 20s would always leave butterflies in the stomach of the audience. But love in the second innings is more natural and relatable. “The audience has got a taste of reality cinema and they prefer this to the mushy mushy Mills & Boons kind of romance. The unearthly love may remain a reality for some but for most, reality pulls them to the theatres. The relatability factor has to be the USP of a film. And we cannot deny the fact that love can happen at any age. It’s real and always happening around us,” he says adding, “With the rise of web series and dot com cinema, the audience also gets a ‘my kind of space’. Content, which otherwise would be categorised as ‘A’, is available to stimulate their taste buds and that too in their personal space. So, earthy realistic cinema is up for grabs in this techno era.”     

Siddharth Anand Kumar, VP Films and Television Saregama India and producer at Yoodlee Films, believes that films are a reflection of society and with changing times, Indian cinema has to evolve and tell stories that go beyond the conventional tropes of romance. He says, “Love stories between older couples, or for that matter, love stories where the age difference between the couple is huge, have been seen in Hindi cinema earlier as well, albeit sporadically. Yash Chopra’s Lamhe, way back in 1991, was much ahead of its time depicting a young Sridevi falling in love with a much older Anil Kapoor. Since then, films like Life in a Metro, Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi, Honeymoon Travels Ltd and Baghban have depicted romance among older couples with varying degrees of success.” 

Speaking of how the web space is encouraging romance between elderly couples, Kumar says, “With an influx of international content available on your mobile screens, and with the millennial audience having a penchant for realistic stories and stories that are symptomatic of changing societal norms, the depiction of mature romance is coming to the forefront. Along with OTT platforms’ appetite for differentiated content, writers find themselves in a good space to experiment with subjects that are at once engaging and entertaining, and above all relevant.” 

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