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We Have A Problem With Manisha Koirala Playing Ranbir Kapoor’s Mom In Sanju, And It’s Got Nothing To Do With Her

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I just read this interview with Manisha Koirala about her concentrating on her acting career 200 per cent, and I was like, ‘Hmm, that’s great. She’s a really good actress.’ She’s going to be playing Ranbir Kapoor’s mother in Sanju. Then, as I let that thought marinate, I was struck by an oddity, and immediately Googled her age. Manisha Koirala is 47 years old. The person she’s playing mother to is 35 years old. But hey, I am not going to play the ageism card of Bollywood right now. At least, not just yet. Although, to give you perspective, Salman Khan who is 52 years old is currently pulling out bazookas and blowing up cars, and doing what some would call slick stunts in Race 3.

Yeah, it’s a little weird. While the men in Bollywood continue to gallivant around trees and romance actresses half their age, the older generation of actresses are saddled with roles of mothers and sisters. In Dil Dhadakne Do, Shefali Shah who is about 45 years old plays mom to Ranveer Singh and Priyanka Chopra. Ranveer and Priyanka are 32 and 35 respectively. That’s less than a 15-year age gap.

A quick search will reveal that Bollywood has been dishing out the mommy roles to young actresses for a while now. What is it that makes us so uncomfortable with watching older, talented actresses in good lead roles? Why must they be relegated to the background, serving as props, when they have so much more to offer?

Of course, you will argue that this is changing. Lipstick Under My Burkha, Mom, English Vinglish were all movies helmed by women of all age groups, and they weren’t furniture to the main star. But such movies are few and far between. We need more of them. We need to see women up close and central. A bit like Veere Di Wedding, though we don’t think that’s the best example.


Mansi Shah is the resident humour writer and random conversation starter. Tends to laugh manically at puns. Deeply enjoys the blunt force of sarcasm. Preys on chauvinists and people with incorrect grammar. Hoards makeup and beauty products. Attacks Nutella with vigour.

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