Old heroes romancing young heroines

Mumbai, May 29: Older heroes romancing young heroines on screen was a trend that spelt box-office success last year.

There was the versatile Aamir Khan wooing the 24-year-old Asin in Ghajini, a nerdy-looking Shah Rukh Khan made debutante Anuskha Sharma (21) fall in love with him in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and Salman Khan’s real-life lady love Katrina Kaif was paired opposite him in Yuvvraaj.

The trend worked vice-versa too, with Bipasha Basu, at 30, romancing Ranbir Kapoor, 26, in Bachna Ae Haseeno and Vidya Balan matching steps with Shahid Kapoor in Kismet Konnection.

But 2009 has seen the tide turn. From Imran Khan to Ranbir, Shahid and Abhay Deol, they will all be seen romancing women their age. The big releases in the next six months — provided the multiplex-filmmaker standoff ends soon — will see young feet dancing to Bollywood numbers. “For several years, there weren’t too many debutantes in the industry.

The last two years have seen the emergence of a lot of new faces. It is only co-incidental that they are paired opposite each other,” says filmmaker Soham Shah, whose next venture, Luck, stars 26-year-old Imran Khan opposite 22-year-old Shruti Haasan in lead roles. “The concept of my film is luck and an established pair would come across as larger than life. Hence, I wanted to cast people who had an unpredictable image,” says Shah. Carrying the youth legacy forward is Imran who is also cast opposite 24-year-old Kaif in Sanjay Gadhvi’s 7 Days in Paris.

Although most filmmakers believe that a good script is of primary importance, the time is passe when one would have a 40-something Shah Rukh play a college student. With plenty options of established and talented faces available, they often become a natural choice. “Fresh faces aren’t necessary unless the script demands it.

My Halla Bol and Khakee had a bunch of experienced actors. But my next needed young people,” says filmmaker Rajkumar Santoshi, whose next venture Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahaani stars Ranbir and Kaif who will also be seen together in Prakash Jha’s Rajneeti. “Besides, the youth, which form a chunk of the audiences today, like to watch young actors on screen. This, no doubt, helps market the movie better.”

So has the charge of the youth brigade led to the fading of the older breed of actors? Anees Bazmee retorts, “Of course not.

The older actors are very much in demand and are always the first choice. But sometimes, when it’s a college story one has to go in for actors that look that age.” Bazmee’s It’s My Life is a college-based love story and stars Hurman Baweja and Genelia D’Souza, both 27.

“Also, more and more heroines start young these days because they have realised that after a certain age they are not accepted by the audience. It is better to start sooner than later.” D’Souza, who re-entred the Hindi film industry with Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na, will also be seen wooing Shahid in Ken Ghosh’s Yahoo.

While Yash Raj Productions has always sworn by the experience of Shah Rukh, they too have, this time, taken to the trend. Their first release this year, Kabir Khan’s New York, will have the gorgeous Kaif and the promising Neil Nitin Mukesh (27) wooing the audiences.

“It is not so much a trend as it is a natural progression. Every once in few years, a bunch of new actors emerge and this is one such phase in the industry,” says Khan, adding, “There are not too many A-listers in the industry. So it is a good thing that there are newer faces striving to get to that bracket.

” Soon after the release of New York, Yash Raj has Ranbir romancing 20-year-old debutante Shazahn Padamsee in Rocket Singh: Salesman of the year and Parmeet Sethi’s untitled directorial venture will see Shahid with Anushka Sharma.