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May 21, 2022
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Soni Razdan : “Getting good roles can be difficult after reaching a certain age”

In their upcoming series Call My Agent: Bollywood, Soni Razdan, Aahana Kumra, and Ayush Mehra will reveal the world of Bollywood talent managers. The Indian Express got to stream three of their episodes ahead of their stream on Netflix. Dia Mirza appears in the very first episode and tells us that aging women have no place in Bollywood while men in their 50s continue to dominate the box office. There is a subtle reference to ‘ageism’ in the film, which made us ask the cast if they have experience in Bollywood and if they fear not working after a certain age.

“You can’t stop aging. It is good to play certain parts at a certain age. There are perfect examples in the West. There’s Meryl Streep, George Clooney, and Brad Pitt, who’s playing their age and it’s so beautiful and graceful to see them age so well on screen. I believe our industry is also gradually moving towards that. Not a lot of roles were being written for older people earlier. But now, they are being explored,” Ayush said.

Aahana mentioned how it was a huge honor for her to be working alongside such talented and passionate ladies irrespective of their age. Later on, the actress recalled her journey through certain difficult obstacles as an outsider.

“I did theater for good ten years. At that time, I didn’t take up any work on television or films because I could not understand those mediums. In films, I was getting roles like heroine ki friend, heroine ki behen. They were really strange roles. On television, I was kicked out because I was not a ‘conventional bahurani.’ They would be like ‘She’s not looking like she will listen to her saasuma.’ So, by the time I started getting roles, or I got my first work in cinema, I had already aged. And then you realize that ‘oh my god, I wish I was much younger and I would have done this part.’”

Aahana further added that the concept of OTT has changed the entire concept of the film industry business. “Having said that, I’m grateful to the OTT platforms that we don’t have to only worry about a film or a TV serial. I have to also now look at an OTT platform that is writing roles for women, telling stories about a woman who’s middle-aged and older. I don’t have to worry about crossing 30,” Aahana said, citing examples of Ratna’s role in Lipstick Under My Burkha and Soni’s role in Your Story.

Soni Razdan talks about ageism in Bollywood

During a further discussion about the topic, Soni Razdan agreed to the fact that getting a good role in the business can be tough at times after a certain age. “I’m getting work today, but for many years, I didn’t get any work for obvious reasons (hinting at age). Also, there were just too few roles available for mothers (back then). So yes, it (Bollywood) was completely skewed towards men. Men could be 40, 50, and 60 and get really good roles but women just didn’t have those opportunities.

Thankfully, I have to say that’s changed. But it is a recent change. So today I’m having the time of my life. Stories don’t stop just because you are 60 or 50 or 70 or 80. Stories continue. Life goes on. So, there’s absolutely no reason why a woman of 60 or 65 or 70 should not be playing the lead role. I think now is the time that ageism is falling by the wayside. However, it’s still a long way from women getting the sort of roles men are approached for,” Soni said.

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