In recent times, there has been an ongoing conversation addressing the vast age gap between male and female actors in mainstream Bollywood cinema. For example, the film ‘Prithviraj’ faced criticism for showing 54-year-old Akshay Kumar alongside 24-year-old Manushi Chhillar as a historic couple. ‘Delhi Crime’ actor Shefali Shah too revealed that when she was around 28-years of age, she played the role of Akshay Kumar’s mother – highlighting the glaring disparity that is between roles written for men and those written for women.
And now, the trailer for ‘Atrangi Re’, a rom-com starring Sara Ali Khan, Dhanush and Akshay Kumar, has furthered this conversation. The trailer of the film dropped online and many couldn’t help but flinch at the idea of 26-year-old Sara Ali Khan romancing 54-year-old Akshay Kumar and 38-year-old Dhanush. The age gap, evidently, is massive.
There are a couple of moments in the trailer that made me uncomfortable, personally. For example, when Sara Ali Khan runs towards Akshay Kumar and jumps on him in an embrace.
Or when she asks Dhanush why can’t she love two men at the same time.
Or even when the film shows a certain level of sexual tension between Sara and Dhanush.
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It is difficult not to question why an older female actor like Sonam Kapoor, Kangana, or Sonakshi wasn’t cast beside these men for the film.
Atrangi re looks so good, dhanush never fails to entertain 🌻✨ but its just disturbing to see the age gap between sara & akshay.
— P (@TheseHairFalls) November 24, 2021
Heroine is jinxed, you are of her father’s age …Shame is difficult word… And even only for Dhanush … I cannot watch it .
— Swati Shinde-Jain (@SwatiShindeJain) November 24, 2021
The age difference. Ugh.
— Sahhar Hafiz (@Sahhar1) November 24, 2021
It’s like romancing with ur daughter, u worked with saif nd he is like ur brother, kuch to values honi he chahiye ..🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄
— aàinstaaain (@iwant2knowthat) November 23, 2021
Why is Sara Ali Khan going to be "romancing" Akshay Kumar, a man more than double her age in Atrangi Re.
Why. Why. Why. Why. That is NOT okay India. Romanticising age gaps like this is why child brides are still a thing.
— Rosh (@RoshalPatel) October 18, 2020
I lost all of my respect for sara ali khan that day when she did romance with akshay kumar in atrangi re.And she calls srk as her uncle.Akki aur srk ki age gap kiya hai?sara is beautiful & cute.But needs improvement in her acting department.
— Tauhidul Islam (@Tauhidu08162058) June 18, 2021
Addressing this age-gap issue, the director of the film, Aanand L Rai, said:
“Atrangi means funnily weird. If a filmmaker shows patience in making a film, it’s his small expectation that people wait and understand the reason behind such a cast. We have a habit of judging people. I want people to watch the film for two hours, and react to it thereafter,” The Indian Express quoted.
Every time Bollywood films cast an actress beside a twice-as-old actor and show them as a couple when an older actress could have been cast, the idea that a female actor’s career comes with an ‘expiry date’, that she is desirable and watchable only when she is in her 20s gets reinstated.