Surekha Sikri in Badhaai Ho
Surekha Sikri in ‘Badhaai Ho’. Image Credit: Supplied

The 2018 saw older Indian actors return to the limelight. Neena Gupta, 59, is the perfect example of this comeback.

Gupta, who became a household name after her role in the 1990s TV show ‘Saans’, hadn’t acted in a long time, but last year took to social media to ask for work.

“I live in Mumbai and am working. I’m a good actor looking for good parts to play,” she wrote on Instagram.

Who would have known that the actress would shine bright with films such as ‘Mulk’ and ‘Badhaai Ho’?

In the film, Gupta played a middle-aged women who accidentally gets pregnant, much to the embarrassment of her grown up sons. Surekha Sikri essayed a nagging but affable grandmother and Gajraj Rao was seen in the role of a caring husband and father.

102 NOT OUT 7
Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan in ‘102 Not Out’.

In an interview, Gupta urged people not to give heed to an actress’ age.

“There are not many roles. I always say that ‘after a certain age, what is a woman’s role? Taking care of the family and home. After that there is no role’. When the society will change, I think we would have more roles on-screen,” she said.

As for Sikri and Rao, they won the audience’s heart with their funny and quirky performances, which showed that for viewers what matters most was good acting.

Sikri made her debut in 1978 with political drama ‘Kissa Kursi Ka’, and made a name for herself by working in films, theatre and television. After featuring in the ‘Balika Vadhu’ TV show she gained popularity as the stern Dadisa. Now, she has wooed her fans again with her role as the nagging grandma in ‘Badhaai Ho’.

Neena Gupta and Gajraj in Badhai Ho
Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao in ‘Badhaai Ho’.

At 73, she does not want to slow down.

“Retirement? Hello, I don’t even know that word. What does it mean? That’s a very old-fashioned English concept... That you do something and then you retire — and mostly it applies to government servants. Fortunately, I am a freelancer and I don’t have any wish or desire to retire. I can just go on and on,” Sikri said.

Rao has earlier featured in movies such as ‘Bandit Queen’, ‘Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi’ and ‘Talvar’. But it was ‘Badhaai Ho’ that brought him more visibility.

“I think such change is coming in cinema because of the lead actors like Ayushmann [Khurrana], Varun Dhawan, Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Rajkummar Rao... They are secure enough to be part of films where they allow writers and directors to give space to the character actors,” he said.

“There is no insecurity on things like the lead actor should have the best dialogues and all the footage in the film. Therefore, though these actors are crowd-pullers in the theatre, actors like us also finding our space,” Rao added.

The internet has also opened doors for older actors such as Farida Jalal, Ashish Vidyarthi and Raza Murad.

The year 2018 also saw another film titled ‘102 Not Out’ that starred actors Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor.

In the film, Bachchan plays a 102-year-old man, father to a 75-year-old character played by Kapoor. The film revolves around the father’s aim of breaking the record for being the world’s oldest person. The duo’s performance won praise from audiences.

Both Kapoor and Bachchan garnered love from their fans for their performances in movies ‘Mulk’ and ‘Thugs of Hindostan’ respectively.