While the BO and the producers are favouring more mature actors, the guys who are in their 20s like got its moolah only in small towns. Kunal's Kalyug was greeted with mixed responses both by cinegoers and critics. Zayed Khan has not given a hit in ages. Maybe they are awaiting their 30th birthdays more eagerly than any other.
Interestingly, this trend was not as visible before 2000. Every other film was either based on the life of college kids or was a love story involving pimply youngsters who couldn't get married because of their parents blocking their path. Probably these kind of films got outdated as the actors who played these characters grew older. They started preferring characters they could fit into properly, rather than being taunted for their younger roles (we are not talking about Dev Anand, of course). Aamir Khan, who was once a teen idol and very much a chocolate boy, started accepting serious films like Akele Hum Akele Tum, Sarfarosh, Mela and Lagaan. His success inspired the other Khans to exit from the boy-next-door image and to experiment with new ideas and stories. Shah Rukh excelled as an actor in Devdas and Salman was appreciated in the runaway hit, Tere Naam.
The emergence of the multiplex phenomenon has also played a prominent part in creating the present scenario where mature actors are acknowledged more (after the initial period of the giggle gaggles munching on their caramel popcorn and cooing over caramel cinestars). Today, if a viewer spends Rs 250 for a movie, then he wants value for that kind of money. The audiences now choose movies carefully, or so it seems, at least. The viewers want more than just a teenybopper love story. They don't have any qualms about accepting 'different' films like My Brother...Nikhil, Omkara, Rang De Basanti and Guru.
"Basically, with the actors, the audiences have also matured. The liberty that viewers today have was not found in their counterparts who used to go to theatres before this millennium. A common Indian has the option of seeing all kinds of movies, whether masala mainstream, hoary Hollywood or classic European-style movies. Simply put, the audiences are more exposed today to better and diverse cinema. The mature actors are not shying to experiment with their looks and character. In his late 30s, Arshad Warsi has become a bigger star by doing supporting roles than he was by doing lead roles, 10 languishing years ago. Now every director wants him in the movie. Writers are crafting parts exclusively for him. He, like many of his colleagues, only accepts a comic or an offbeat role now," asserts Homi Adajania, director of Being Cyrus, the only Indian English film that grossed more than Rs 20 crore.
Does that mean that the era of romancing around trees is over? Film critic Mayank Shekhar differs. "The concept of young romance is not going to die. Sooraj R. Barjatya tried to keep it alive by featuring Shahid Kapur and Amrita Rao together in 'Vivah'. Earlier the competition was not that tough and actors were getting things easily. But now the whole scenario has changed. There are too many cute faces coming in and to get the right one is a tough job. In the 70s and 80s, there was a demand for fresh faces, which has now faded away. Only a few directors are willing to take chances on a newcomer and that occurs only if he or she is a star-son," he analyses.
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