Bollywood actresses take on heroes of varied ages

They could be paired with 40-year-olds and 20-year-olds with equal success. For today's Bollywood actresses, co-starring with actors of varied ages is no problem!

Manisha Koirala has both a 20-something Karan Nath and a 40-plus Rajit Kapoor as her co-stars in the upcoming release "Tum".

Priyanka Chopra, who co-stars with Bobby Deol in the other release this week, "Kismat", is equally comfortable with brothers Sunny and Bobby Deol. She made her debut with the senior Deol in "The Hero" last year.

More heroines are slipping and sliding into roles with actors from different generations.

Priyanka's archrival Lara Dutta had barely finished playing 44-year-old Anil Kapoor's wife in Anees Bazmi's "No Entry" than she moulded herself into Vivek Oberoi's co-star in Indra Kumar's "Masti".

In Madhur Bhandarkar's "Aan: Men At Work", Lara's co-star is Akshay Kumar who falls in the generation between Anil and Vivek.

Kareena Kapoor seems to have the most democratic arc of co-stars at her disposal.

From Anil Kapoor in Boney Kapoor's "Bewafaa" to the 23-year-old Shahid Kapoor in the same producer's "Milenge Milenge", Kareena also co-stars with Akshay Kumar in Abbas-Mustan's "Aetraaz".

Akshay Kumar slips with equal aplomb from romancing Karisma Kapoor in "Mere Jeevan Saathi" to Priyanka Chopra in "Aetraaz".

Bipasha Basu is another actress who seems to be getting the best of many worlds. In her last two films, her co-stars John Abraham and Sanjay Dutt are separated almost by two decades.

Bipasha seems equally comfortable with both generations of actors as well as Aftab Shivdasani, who plays the leading man in her next film.

Aishwarya Rai is also skipping generations happily to search for the perfect co-star.

She has acted with Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgan, Abhishek Bachchan and Vivek Oberoi within a year and is equally comfortable sharing screen space with Amitabh Bachchan.

And Preity Zinta has gone from the 40-plus generation of stars Anil Kapoor and Sunny Deol in "Armaan" and "The Hero" to the 36-year-old Shah Rukh Khan in "Kal Ho Na Ho" to Hrithik Roshan, who is in his 20s in "Koi...Mil Gaya".

Today's leading lady needs to be versatile in unexpected ways.

She not only has to play the vamp and the princess simultaneously but must also adjust her body language and behaviour to suit the different generations of heroes, sometimes in one film.

In Sunny Deol's "Dillagi", Urmila Matondkar had both the Deol brothers as her co-stars, "And I loved every minute of it!" she exults.

That marks a change from the past.

Nargis was invariably paired with heroes of her generation. Even in her most celebrated screen role in "Mother India", she was paired not with Sunil Dutt (who played her son) but Raj Kumar.

Protocol was usually strictly observed until Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand, in order to preserve their youthful images, began to co-star with younger leading ladies.

A 50-year old Raj Kapoor with the 17-year-old Hema Malini in "Sapnon Ka Saudagar" or a 60-year-old Dev Anand with a 20-something Tina Munim in "Des Pardes" looked patently ill-matched.

Fortunately today's 40-plus heroes take good care of themselves. Anil Kapoor with Karisma Kapoor in "Badhaai Ho Badhaai" and the even younger Gracy Singh in "Armaan" passed the muster.

The leading ladies too aren't averse to getting adventurous in their screen collaborations.

Both Karisma and Aishwarya are definitely a few years senior to Abhishek, yet they both dared to pair with him in "Han...Maine Bhi Pyar Kiya Hai" and "Kuch Na Kaho" respectively.

As long as there is chemistry, who cares about seniority?

Way back in the 1960s, Meena Kumari paired with her junior Dharmendra in "Phool Aur Patthar" ...And the screen ignited with a thousand different emotions generated by their compatibility.