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|August 18, 2001||
Subhash K Jha
Dimple Kapadia, who wooed audiences more than 30 years ago in Bobby, has critics eating out of her hand for her performance as a lonely, ageing alcoholic divorcee in Dil Chahta Hai.
"It was a role to die for. And I do!" laughs the stunningly beautiful actress, referring to her character's tragic death at the end of the film. Dimple was debutante director Farhan Akhtar's first choice for the layered role of a woman who forms an unlikely bond with a sensitive man, much younger than her (played by Akshaye Khanna).
Dimple dismisses all misgivings about the audience's inability to connect with a relationship that goes beyond convention. And she regrets the scarcity of roles like the one she plays in Dil Chahta Hai.
"I'm not shying away from acting. But I must find the right roles. I can't do just any old role that's thrown my way," says the actress who won the National Award for her scintillating performance in Rudaali.
Dimple represents the tangible dilemma of a brilliant brigade of 45-plus actresses in Hindi cinema who miss opportunities to display their talents on screen.
Jaya Bachchan started her career in the 1970s and soon reached the peak of popularity. Like Dimple, Jaya took a long sabbatical from acting after marriage and motherhood. When she finally returned to acting with a brilliant performance in Govind Nihalani's Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa, she found fewer opportunities for a serious career in acting.
Last year Jaya was seen giving a superlative performance as mother of Karisma Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan in Khalid Mohamed's Fiza. Next month Jaya returns to the screen in another substantial role in Vinay Shukla's Koi Mere Dil Se Pooche, where she plays debutante Esha Deol's mother. A Malayalam film, featuring Mohanlal, to be directed by Shaji Karun, is also on the anvil.
Four-time National Award winner Shabana Azmi is another in the triumvirate of brilliant actresses who are forced into semi-retirement by a non-responsive industry. Shabana shone last year in an award-winning role in Vinay Shukla's Godmother. Thereafter her follow-up Deepa Mehta's Water was stalled.
Recently there was some talk of Shabana being approached to play Hrithik Roshan's mother in Rakesh Roshan's new venture Koi Mil Gaya. But he finally opted for the more glamorous Rekha, who incidentally will be seen in the challenging role of an exploited tribal woman in Raj Kumar Santoshi's Lajja.
Undoubtedly brilliant actresses past their prime, like Waheeda Rehman and Raakhee, are choosing their roles very carefully. Waheeda, who shifted base from Bangalore to Bombay after her husband's death, will be seen after a long time as mother of Anil Kapoor, Fardeen Khan and Abhishek Bachchan in Anupam Kher's Om Jai Jagdish.
Raakhee recently made a comeback as Amitabh Bachchan's better half in Suneel Darshan's Ek Rishta: The Bond of Love. She refuses to be seen in trite and conventional mother's roles. "I'm open to mother's roles. But I refuse to do stereotypical parts," she says.
In Hollywood, screenwriters would have been tripping over one another to conceive roles for women as talented as Jaya Bachchan, Dimple Kapadia, Shabana Azmi and Raakhee. In India, however, the leading ladies get younger in reverse proportion to the leading men's advancing years.
Indo-Asian News Service
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