Anuja Iyer



Does age matter?


There's a popular line in the film 'Dil Toh Paagal Hai' that Madhuri Dixit dreamily lost in yonder utters 'Kahin na Kahin, Koi na Koi, mere liye bana hua hai' (someone somewhere is made for me). Even in most Tamizh films made in the decades gone by, the heroine compulsorily has a dialogue that will be said with utmost conviction 'enakkunnu oruthan kandippa engeyaavathu poranthu irukkaan'. The next frame will immediately cut to the introduction song or scene of the hero whose face is dramatically revealed to the audience but much later to the heroine. The one factor that is usually taken for granted in the director's characterization of a couple is that the guy is slightly elder than the woman who's probably studying in final year college with parents looking out for a suitable groom while the girl silently dates the man of her dreams, romances, revolts, elopes or convinces her parents to get her married to him. In most cases, the hiccups in happy endings are due to religion / caste, economical status or some feud between the two families in the past. But very few couples have been portrayed where complexities culminate due to the difference (or the lack of it) in the age of the couple in question.

When two people are of the same age probably studying together in college as in 'Khushi', 'Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na' or who've grown up together as in 'Neethane En Ponvasantham', they literally learn, falter, fight, hug, hate, cry and patch up at a very leveled plane. The wavelengths, maturity levels, planning for higher studies, career plans, time to plan for marriage are almost similar. Relationships of same-age if at all it gets complicated would only be due to the couples themselves. As a reflection of an evolving time, speed-breakers like society, parental opposition, caste politics and sundry have kind of welcomingly taken a backseat in films (mostly set up in an urban milieu) that've released in the last decade. The excitement and intensity that such similar age pairs bring on-screen is very different as compared to a woman with a matured man, as was poetically brought out much earlier in one of Mani Ratnam's classics in the 80s, 'Mouna Raagam' with Mohan as the restrained husband and Karthik as the overt lover expressing their love in two stark ways. But what is more intriguing is when you see the less-explored route of directors showing couples with a huge age difference where the man is much elder than even the woman's father (as in Cheeni Kum) or where the heroine is a year elder than the hero (as in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya).

Only in recent times have directors started portraying more such combinations where it gets complex for the couple involved and interesting for the audience watching when 'age' (which is just a number when it is about the individual) becomes a crucial factor when it comes to relationships, making them work and gaining the parental acceptance. However such sparks of brilliance did come as a bonus in yesteryear films from a genius, a revolutionary and a much-ahead-of-his-time director like KB Sir who gave us a rocking pair in Kamal Haasan and Srividya in 'Apoorva Raagangal' where the one thing that stood out staring right into our face besides their individual charm and complicated quadrangle relationship was the huge difference in their age with the guy being younger than the woman he romances. A very small observation it is but nevertheless it's like the height of the guy that people expect to be more than the woman standing next to her. At least in India, women are expected to be lesser in such attributes, let alone in a far deeper sense, where the age like the height has to be lesser than the man she marries.

What has not been explored much in films (considering the time and age of today's cinema) is a relationship that portrays a woman who is many years elder than the man she is surprisingly attracted to. Someone in her late twenties, current status being very much single after a long-standing relationship unfortunately breaking up just before marriage and a couple of years later falling for a guy who's many years younger than her (in his early twenties maybe) with the plot getting even more fascinating when the guy reciprocates as well brushing aside the age difference and just going with what he feels for her. There's a lot of scope to get into the dilemmas she faces, the future that she could possibly share with the young blood, the waiting time before he is even ready for marriage and the chaos that is likely to happen at her home when the news is broken. There's a good chance that she feels young herself by being with someone at that age and doesn't really get perturbed by what the society will think of them getting together as long as the relationship is magical. Treading the unbeaten path is more creatively satisfying than the predictable pairs we've all seen in movies till now.

We're surrounded by real life celebrities where the unusual age difference hasn't really deterred them from tying the knot. While you have a Sachin Tendulkar who is happily married to Anjali, a pediatrician by profession and six years senior by age, there's equally a Saif Ali Khan whose marriage to Amrita Singh, twelve years his senior wasn't a 'happily ever after' and finally wedded Kareena, who is ten years younger than Saif. Bollywood beauty Saira Banu fell in love with veteran star Dilip Kumar who was double her age when she tied the knot at the age of 22 and have been inseparable ever since. What really makes such relationships with huge age differences click or clank finally boils down to how much the two of them are able to give, adjust and match up to each other's way of life and thinking despite the considerable time difference right from being born in different decades and the resultant differences in tastes, interests and thinking. These are people who've felt so right about it in their bones, who've had unwavering faith in their choice and who didn't care about the eyebrows that society raised at their relationships. After all when love happens, it will blow your mind away that you'll only be left with your heart to follow what it says.

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