Shah Rukh Khan posted a picture on social media earlier today, October 2, which took the Internet by storm. The picture featured Sridevi (54), Karisma Kapoor (43), Kajol (43), Rani Mukerji (39) and Alia Bhatt(24). With the presence of such gorgeous ladies and SRK himself in the frame, it won’t be a hyperbole to suggest the picture was high on awesomeness. But if we were to set aside the sheer amount of beauty on display in the picture, there is something sad about it. We see a 51-year old Shah Rukh Khan surrounded by his leading ladies from three generations. That Shah Rukh Khan has acted opposite the 24-year old Alia Bhatt to 54-year old Sridevi gives us a glimpse of his awe-inspiring longevity as an actor.
Have a look at the picture he shared:
But did you notice what we see?
It tells us how easily leading ladies get replaced by the next crop of actresses in Bollywood.
Rani, Kajol, Sridevi and Karisma have done both critically acclaimed and glamorous roles. They have played strong characters in women-centric films while also playing the second fiddle, damsel in distress to the Khans and other male superstars in their movies. What no one can take away from them is the fact that they were superstars in their own right of their time and some of the finest actresses Bollywood has ever produced. Remember Sridevi in Sadma or Mr India; Rani Mukherjee in Black or Hum Tum; Kajol pulling off a Dushman with as much elan as an Anjali in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai! The Karisma of Zubeidaa and Fiza was a breathtaking sight while her great comic timing and dance numbers in David Dhawan movies made her the actress for the masses as well as the classes alike.
How did these women with such great body of work and the talent of versatility fade? And how did Shah Rukh Khan manage to remain relevant, pretty much repeating his antics through his cinematic career? The same dimpled smile and the same widening of arms –how do people not get tired of it? How did they forget about the women who were their childhood or teenage crushes, who lit up the silver screen merely just with their presence?
True, some of these actresses have made comebacks. Rani Mukerji delivered a Mardani and Sridevi did some stunning work with English Vinglish and Mom, only to leave us with high hopes. With these small films, they have proved that they have so much more to them to give us as artistes.
The picture tweeted by Shah Rukh Khan is a sad reminder of the very narrow space available for talented women to achieve their creative best in an industry that is obsessed with its ageing male superstars.
We wonder if we will ever see a female superstar surrounded by men from three generations boasting of having worked with her.
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