No one can deny that Bollywood has issues in tapping the right talent. And, that’s the reason why we are made to watch actors that hardly know the skill, while actors with great potential struggle. From Manoj Bajpayee to Pankaj Tripathi, all have shared their struggle of being ignored by Bollywood.
Recently, the talented actor Shefali Shah also opened up about struggling to get good roles in Bollywood that were apt for her age. Even after proving her mettle with the films like Rangeela, Satya and Monsoon Wedding, Bollywood took its own sweet time to offer her roles that she deserved.
While talking about the age discrimination in the Indian film industry, Shefali shared how in 2005, she was roped into play Akshay Kumar’s mother in the movie Waqt. At that time, Shefali Shah was 28 who played the mother of Akshay Kumar, who was 38 years old at that time.
While talking about the lack of good roles, Shefali mentioned: “I played age very early. I played Akshay Kumar’s mother when I was around 28. I got Hasratein when I was 20 and played a 30-35-year-old in it. After a point, I decided if I’m not getting the work that drives me crazy, I will sit at home. I reached this peace that such kind of work won’t come every day. And the few films I did raise that bar. I’ve said no to work even if it meant sitting at home for two years, not doing anything.”
Speaking about the digital space, Shefali said, “OTT opened up that horizon with age-appropriate roles, where a heroine didn’t have an expiry date. Otherwise, there was an 18-22 window of age. After that, they didn’t know what to do with the women. They either became accessories or were just a wall in the background. I’ve been working since I was 16. But my professional life changed by the time I reached my 40s. In fact, it changed in the last two years after Delhi Crime.”
In 2020, Shefali Shah made us all proud when her crime drama, Delhi Crime won the Best Drama Series award at the 48th International Emmy Awards.
But, no one can deny that our Bollywood has massive issue of age discrimination. With every movie, the hero gets older but the actress gets younger. A good example is how Akshay Kumar, with each movie gets a younger love interest. The debate about sexism in Bollywood got heated with the poster release of Prithvi Raj Chauhan that stars Akshay Kumar, aged 54 yrs, against Manushi Chhillar, aged 24 yrs.
When it comes to giving a chance to women actors in 40s, Bollywood has disappointed us miserably. But, we are thankful to OTTs, who gave the chance to deserving actors like Shefali Shah, Sushmita Sen, Neena Gupta and many more. We hope Bollywood would learn from OTTs to value the right talent before it is too late!