Voices Pushpesh Pant Shinie Antony Sathya Saran Ravi Shankar Amar Bhushan Mata Amritanandamayi MAGAZINE Buffet People Wellness Books Food Art & Culture Entertainment NEW DELHI march 7 2021 SUNDAY PAGES 12 Pooja Bhatt Daddy’s Girl Grows Up Debut In 1989, Daddy; she was 17 Last seen on screen Everybody Says I'm Fine!, released in 2001 Comeback At 49, playing Rani Singh Irani, CEO of the Royal Bank, in Netflix’s Bombay Begums In Praise of Older Women officer, played by the redoubtable Parambrata Chatterjee, comes to the town and starts questioning her relationships and methods. Monika Shergill, Netflix Vice President, Content, says women like Tandon bring so much nuance into the characters they play and have the ability to just , slip under the skin of new personas. All these years, she notes, most of these women have been so underutilised and there is tremendous potential to do more. Films like English Vinglish (2012) in the past and shows like Star Plus’s hit daily soap Anupamaa now with menopausal women enjoying a second innings at their core prove quite conclusively that it is not the audience that wants to see 50-plus men playing 30-somethings and romancing teenage girls, but the studios, says Anuja Chauhan, bestselling author and writer of Sardar ka Grandson, starring Neena Gupta. Women of a certain age who were made to feel like beggars, grateful for scraps from the ‘big boys club’, are now getting roles which put them front and centre of the narrative. Writer Apurva Ansari says in Sen’s portrayal of Aarya, for instance, one can see years of pent-up talent exploding on screen. “It must be frustrating for actors like her to only be offered item numbers or arm candy roles when they have so much potential. With Aarya she had an opportunity and she gave it her all.” It’s partly because there are so many women now behind the scenes as well, writing, directing and producing entertainment. Directors like Ruchi Narain, who recently made Guilty for Netflix and Hundred for Disney+Hotstar, have been making films since 2005 when she made Kal: Yesterday and Tomorrow by writing a business plan and going to 14 investors with it—it’s another matter that it got a mere 26-print release. Narain has so many stories Turn to page 2 Significant parts for women of a certain age are slowly finding their way back on to the screen, enabling some of Mumbai’s finest actors to stage a comeback By Kaveree Bamzai T hey didn’t want me to go to a fat farm or get Botox done. Life has imprinted itself on me but they told me, ‘We want you to be you’.” Even if that shows the wear and tear of life. That is Pooja Bhatt, comeback star of a new Netflix series, Bombay Begums. Bhatt began her career in 1989, the year in which Salman Khan got his first role as leading man in Maine Pyaar Kiya and set everyone’s pulses racing. While Khan has been swaggering through the decades, displaying the bags under his eyes with as much elan as the somewhat thicker middle, Bhatt’s last movie as an actor was Rahul Bose’s directorial debut Everybody Says I'm Fine!, which was shot 21 years ago. Since then she’s been a producer and director, launched actors such as John Abraham and Udita Goswami, but never felt the urge to act again. Until now. Or rather until 2019, when she got an email from Bombay Begums’ creator Alankrita Shrivastava, about the role of Rani Singh Irani, a bank teller from Kanpur who rises to become the CEO of a Mumbai bank. Bhatt thought she could never take those eight steps forward from behind the camera again but she did. The result is a powerful performance as Rani, a somewhat devious, ambitious, yet always Raveena Tandon Flexing Her Acting Muscles Debut In 1991, Pathar ke Phool, with Salman Khan Last seen on big screen In 2017, Night, a film by Onir Comeback In Aranyak, thriller on Netflix, where at 46, she plays a policewoman in a remote Himalayan town human, head of a bank, who reigns supreme in the boardroom but craves acceptance and love at home, from her stepchildren. “For me it was like starting all over again,” says Bhatt. “I had to forget my fame, my faded stardom, and surrender to Alankrita’s vision. She gave me a one-line mantra: Power doesn’t need to scream and I followed that,” adds Bhatt. Bhatt is one of many women of a certain age who are making a mark before and behind the scenes in Bollywood currently Sushmita Sen, 45, . plays Aarya in the eponymous series on Disney+Hotstar, and Ram Madhvani, who has just started shooting its second season, says, “It’s not me who has the power to cast her. It’s she who has the power to say yes. I’m just happy Sushmita said yes to Aarya and wanted to be part of it.” Having worked together in an ad, he felt it in his bones that only she could play the steely-homemakerturned-wily-gangster in his Rajasthan-based drugs and guns saga. Raveena Tandon, 46, headlines Aranyak, a forthcoming Netflix series where she plays Kasturi, a policewoman investigating the disappearance of a foreign tourist in a remote Himalayan town. The series, directed by Rohan Sippy is about what , happens when a big city police Madhuri Dixit Nene Superstar to Star Actor Debut In 1984 in Abodh Last seen in The terrible Kalank (2019) which didn’t know what to do with her Comeback At 53, in the forthcoming Netflix series Finding Anamika where she plays a version of herself
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