Would Katrina Kaif get to dance on 'Tip Tip Barsa Pani' when she's Akshay Kumar's age? Ask Raveena Tandon
The original version of 'Tip Tip Barsa Pani' has Raveena Tandon, who contributed significantly in making the song what it is — a steamy blockbuster that has stayed relevant enough to be remade 27 years later, in Sooryavanshi with Katrina Kaif. If Akshay Kumar can dance to the same song at 54, why can’t Tandon, who is seven years younger than him?
In the column Let's Talk About Women, Sneha Bengani looks at films, the world of entertainment, and popular media through the feminist lens. Because it's important. Because it's needed. And because we're not doing it enough.
'Tip Tip Song' from Rohit Shetty's cop film Sooryavanshi has Katrina Kaif gyrating to a rejigged version of a track that was first filmed for Akshay Kumar 1994 starrer Mohra. In recreating 'Tip Tip Barsa Pani,' the makers have dutifully retained much from the original — the tune, the lyrics, the hook step, the rain, the sultry vibe, the hero. However, the one key element that has changed, which sorely sticks out, is the heroine.
The original version has Raveena Tandon, who contributed significantly in making the song what it is — a steamy blockbuster that has stayed relevant enough to be remade 27 years later. If Kumar can dance to the same song at 54, why can’t Tandon, who is seven years younger than him?
Why is the Hindi film industry so uncomfortable celebrating on screen the sexuality of older women as it does with older men? Unlike our heroes, once our heroines get married and have babies, they are immediately pigeonholed into the mother category or are given roles that completely rob them of their sexuality. When was the last time you saw Tandon in a film? I remember watching her in Maatr (2017), a revenge drama in which she plays a woman avenging the rape and death of her teen daughter. The story of Kumar’s other female co-stars from the '90s is not too different either. Be it Aisha Julka, Shilpa Shetty, Karisma Kapoor, or Mamta Kulkarni — they are either not getting work or are doing character roles. Meanwhile, Sooryavanshi has become Kumar’s latest film to make over Rs 100 crore at the box office.
Bollywood has never had any qualms in coupling 54-year-old men with women 20 (or more) years younger than them. In fact, it has several love stories in which men romance women half their age. There is Cheeni Kum, Nishabd, Golmaal Again, and most recently, De De Pyaar De. Our filmmakers find any logic, even if there is none, to justify such absurd pairings. But can you think of any sexually-charged Hindi love story between a 65-year-old-woman and a man in his 30s? I can’t. It would be something to see a Jaya Bachchan romance a Vicky Kaushal in a breezy film that is not trying to preach or teach anything. Or a version of De De Pyaar De in which Tabu falls for a guy much younger than her. Or a remake of Cheeni Kum with Rekha and Abhay Deol. Or a Sooryavanshi with Tip Tip that has Kumar and Tandon dancing in the rain, as hot and provocative as we remember them from the original.
Misogynistic ageism in films is so prevalent that it does not look absurd anymore. We have normalised it to an extent where it no longer occurs to us to question it. Whatever is shown to us on the fabled silver screen, we lap it up — we chew it with our popcorn, wash it down with our cold drink, and laugh it off in the name of entertainment.
And in doing all this, we reaffirm the deep-rooted belief of our filmmakers that as long as a movie has a young woman dancing in a wet sari, we will put our money on it.
This is why heroines older than 45, from Hema Malini to Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta — who were once box office’s reigning queens — do not seem to get meaty offers anymore. It is the same for even the relatively younger ones or those who were considered sex symbols not too long ago. Remember Urmila Matondkar and Sonali Bendre? Even Bipasha Basu, Lara Dutta, and Chitrangada Singh are now seemingly too old to be cast alongside the ever-so-youthful Khans, Kumars, and Devgns. I wonder if Katrina Kaif would get to dance on a song like 'Tip Tip' when she is as old as Akshay Kumar.
When not reading books or watching films, Sneha Bengani writes about them. She tweets at @benganiwrites.
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