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      From Madhuri Dixit To Kajol, OTT Is The New Career-Reviving Playground For 90's Actresses

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      The 90s era in Bollywood will remain one of the most iconic periods in the history of Indian cinema and a goldmine of nostalgia. Everything related to this era is undefeatable and ages like fine wine. Although the 90s Bollywood films had similar plots, they still had that entertaining element, but there's one thing about the era that enchanted everyone-its female stars. The charm, charisma, and elegance of the 90s Indian film heroines were unparalleled. The ease with which they carried themselves on the screen and the talent they showed made them queens of the glamour world. But sadly, they were limited to being eye candy.

      Female actors in the 90s didn't have much to do on screen, other than play damsels in distress, side chicks, or just be the hero's love interest. It is a known fact that female celebrities' lifespan in showbiz is short-lived in comparison to their male counterparts. This is aptly presented in a line from Madhuri Dixit's OTT debut, The Fame Game, a dialogue that says, "Hero kabr mein paaon latkaaye hai par heroine 20 saal ki chahiye (Hero is on the verge of death but wants a 20-year-old heroine)."

      90s actresses

      The opportunities offered to them diminished with the unending obsession to cast a younger heroine. It's not that these actresses completely stopped working in films or didn't stay relevant. Actresses like Raveena Tandon, Kajol, and Juhi Chawla appeared in a few movies in the mid-2000s but were not successful. While Madhuri Dixit and Shilpa Shetty pursued careers in television as judges on dance reality shows. But it was the boom in the OTT streaming platforms and the rise of social media that helped these actresses regain their popularity. With demand for content-driven stories and a change in viewing patterns, suddenly these streaming platforms have much to offer. This is the primary reason why heroines are turning to OTTs to kickstart the second innings of their acting careers.

      In this modern age, contemporary stories are something that offers an actor dynamic space to explore the character.

      The first actress from the 90s era to make her debut on the OTT platform and headline a show was Karisma Kapoor in Mentalhood, on Zee5, which follows the story of an imperfect mother who is trying to juggle between her life and her children. Playing such a character wouldn't have been possible for her in the 90s, as a story about a flawed mother would not have been accepted by the audience. She is again set to come up with another show soon. Therefore, Karisma paved the way for other actresses of her time to try their luck with digital platforms.

      karisma Kapoor in Mentalhood

      Gradually, more and more female stars from that period made their way to the online streaming channels and have successfully crafted a name for themselves. Madhuri Dixit, who was once the most sought-after actress and the highest-paid star, even more than her male co-stars like Shah Rukh and Salman Khan, made her digital debut with Netflix's The Fame Game, in which she played Bollywood superstar Anamika Anand, whose disappearance brings out some hidden dark secrets about her life. The show received mixed reactions from critics and the audience, but her performance demonstrated once again that her charm has not withered and that she is an evergreen performer.

      Madhuri Dixit in The Fame Game

      Female characters are more than just side chicks and glamour faces today. There is a paradigm shift towards playing age-appropriate roles that are strong and powerful. Raveena Tandon, who mostly appeared in dramas and romantic flicks, pulled off the role of a strong, determined female cop from a small town in Netflix's Aranyak, who is also a wife juggling multiple things at the same time. Raveena's performance was highly appreciated. Meanwhile, the second season of the series is awaited.

      Raveena Tandon in Aranyak

      Actress Pooja Bhatt also made her acting comeback with the Netflix web series Bombay Begums as Rani, the CEO of a top bank in Mumbai. Bhatt plays a flawed character who chases her dreams to the top, faces professional challenges, has an extramarital affair, and is a compassionate stepmother at the same time. The audience, mainly urban working women, could easily identify with her character and her difficulties, making it a very relatable focal character.

      Another popular 90s star who recently made her debut with Broken News on Zee5 was Sonali Bendre. She played a 45-year-old journalist in the series, which was well-received by the audience. Speaking about her acting comeback in digital space, the actress stated to a leading daily that, "As an artist, you live a certain amount of life. You go through certain experiences that shape you. That's what makes you an artist, and just when you are getting there is kind of when it stops. It's not fair at all. So, it's lovely to get this opportunity to be able to use what you have learnt."

      Sonali feels that streaming platforms are just a new beginning for actresses like her as they offer the challenge and thrill of doing something new in a different medium and playing a character that they have never done before.

      Sonali Bendre in Broken News

      Kajol is another well-known actress from the 90s who recently announced her debut in the OTT space, with an untitled Disney+ Hotstar series. Talking about her debut and elaborating on the restrictions of working in a film, she added that there are several things you cannot do while playing a role on the big screen. While speaking to Hindustan Times, the actor said, "Ott gives you a platform to be a little freer."

      Kajol

      Speaking about the same, Madhuri Dixit talking to the same publication says, "It's great that even after 35 years, I am debuting with something. It's wonderful because I am a student of cinema. I love learning. Every day, I wake up and feel I am going to learn something new today. For me, it's a different language for making films. It's a different system in the way it operates. It's quite different to be on OTT." She will next be seen in Maja Maa, which will be released on Amazon Prime.

      There are several other familiar faces from the 90s who will be making their OTT debuts, including Shilpa Shetty, who will be seen alongside Sidharth Malhotra and Vivek Oberoi in Rohit Shetty's Indian Police Force, and Juhi Chawla and Ayesha Jhulka, who will be seen in Amazon Prime's Hush Hush, while Juhi has another untitled with Farhan Akhtar.

      Sushmita Sen in Aarya

      The heroines are no longer following the leads but are themselves leading the shows. Stories are now woven around them, where the actresses have a chance to play interesting roles and experiment with their characters. Susmita Sen's character in Aarya, who plays anti-hero Aarya Sareen, is one of the best examples of blurred lines between a hero and heroine. She plays a mafia queen who is on a journey to exact revenge on those who murdered her husband while remaining a caring mother to her children.

      As female leads have the power to choose the right role for themselves, audiences these days are open to offbeat and diverse content options. With ever-changing times and shifting societal perceptions with respect to modern women, female characters are being written. These roles are now accepted and highly appreciated by the audience.

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