The trailer of Tushar Hiranandani's Saandh Ki Aankh, which features Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar as two real-life 60-plus sisters from Uttar Pradesh who became famous sharpshooters, has triggered off a debate on age-suited casting.
Challenging the casting of Taapsee and Bhumi who are in their late 20s, veteran actress Neena Gupta tweeted: "Yes, I was just thinking about this. Hamari umar ke role toe kam se kam humse kara lo bhai (at least let actresses of my age play such roles)."
The remark has triggered off a Twitter debate, with Kangana Ranaut's sister Rangoli chipping in that Kangana had been offered the film but she suggested Neena Gupta and Ramya Krishna for the two sisters' roles.
No brownie points for guessing this is another Ranaut-induced ploy to belittle Taapsee Pannu's career upswing. But nonetheless the fact remains that actresses beyond a certain age find themselves nearly jobless in our country.
In a sharp rejoinder Taapsee responded with this post on social media: "I wonder… I just wonder… Do we ever want to embrace the positivity or just keep latching on to negativity and glorifying it to save our lack of risk taking tendencies. Have we really lost the shoulder along with our spine to support people who venture out of their comfort zone to bring about a change???? Or it's just reserved for two females who at relatively nascent stage of their career venture out to do something,which we were told, most of the people turned down? I wonder…. I just wonder… Did we ask the same question when we all loved what Anupam Kher did in Saaransh. Did we question when Nargis Dutt played mother to Sunil Dutt? Did we question John Travolta for playing a woman in Hairspray? Did we question Eddie Murphy for playing a white Jewish man in Coming to America? Did we question when Aamir Khan played a college kid in 3 Idiots? And in the future are we going to question Ayushmann Khurrana for playing a gay man in Shubh Mangal Zyaada Saavdhan? Or these lovely allegations and questions are reserved only for us??? Well even if it is… we thank you from the bottom of our heart for noticing our little effort to bring to you something new, something different, something you all want to comment on, something you all want to attach yourself to, be it in any way, and something that attracted your attention. After all cinema is also about thought. Let's keep the discussion going and hope your questions will be answered and doubts will be cleared this Diwali kyuki hum toh aa rahe hain iss baar pataake nahi goliyaan barsaane. Thank you for all the love and attention you have bestowed upon our small film with BIG heart!"
When we congratulated Taapsee on her well thought-out comments on ageism she informed: "I really was trying to stay away from saying much, but after a point I thought when my hard work and efforts are being questioned, so I need to stand by my own self."
A couple of years ago Neena Gupta had tweeted asking directors to give her roles as she was jobless.
Sixty-plus veteran Shabana Azmi, however, feels there is no shortage of opportunities for actresses her age. "You just need to be at the right place at the right time."
As for younger actresses like Bhumi Pednekar and Taapsee Pannu, playing older women, way back in 1969 Sharmila Tagore played Rajesh Khanna's mother in "Aradhana". [By Subhash K Jha]