Dear Internet, If Sonali Kulkarni Is Okay To Play Salman Khan’s Mother Toh What Is Our Problem? Let Her Be!
I was born in 1996, and one of the most talked about heros of bollywood during those times was Salman Khan. Fast forward to 2006, I am 10 years old, and Salman Khan is 40 and is still playing the role of a young male protagonist. Cut to 2019, I am 23 now and the only thing changed is that Salman is no longer a chocolate boy, but Bollywood’s Bhai, and is still playing roles half his age. When you look it like that, one can’t help but wonder if the industry is being too gracious with the kind of roles being offered to men as opposed to the kind being offered to women. But seems like, Sonali Kulkarni begs to differ.
The 44-year-old actress, who in her latest release Bharat, played the role of Salman Khan’s mother, opened up about how she felt about the role. In an interview with News18, she finally chose to react to the criticism of the netizens upon calling out on her casting as a mother to a 53-year-old actor. She said, “Of course, I thought of my age. It did cross my mind, but I have been playing a variety of characters since the beginning of my career. In my first film, I was a tree… In ‘Daayraa’, I was a boy. Similarly, in ‘Mission Kashmir’, I have played a surrogate mother to Hrithik. After that movie, I happened to sign ‘Dil Chahta Hai’”
And we do agree with her. There are a number of women in Bollywood from Madhuri Dixit to Tabu who have been in the industry for as long as male actors, and are still picking up strong and equally glam roles, regardless the age. Of course, at the first glance, it did seem weird to see the woman who once romanced Saif Ali Khan in Dil Chahta Hai, now play a doting mother to another actor his age, but if she said that she didn’t think it was weird, then we side with her. Of cours, the netizens did not agree and unleashed a social backlash, but she stood her ground.
Sonali Kulkarni, nine years younger than Salman Khan, plays his mother in Bharat. And that's all you need to know about Bollywood in 2019.
— Sayantan Ghosh (@sayantansunnyg) June 5, 2019
Is it just me or there are others too who are shocked at the ingrained misogyny and blatant Khan brand exploitation in Bollywood industry that Sonali Kulkarni who is 10 years younger to Salman Khan is made to play his mother in the movie Bharat?#Shameful
— Sneha Sekhsaria (@drsneha) June 7, 2019
The Bharat actress then further continued by saying, “They (makers) never said, ‘Now, how do we cast her as a leading lady of ‘Dil Chahta Hai’?’ Nobody asked me that question. Nobody rejected me. So this faith and the ongoing relationship, that I have with makers, audience and critics, is only helping me to grow confident and love my profession more and more.”
It is, in fact, great for these women who are finally stepping up to change the industry’s mindset and the trend that casts aside actresses in supporting or motherly roles as soon as they fall out of the 30s bracket. But as long as we have women like Sonali, there is no putting such women in boxes. Guess we need to really hear them when they say that Bollywood is not to blame here. As long as they enjoy the roles they’re taking up, we shouldn’t have any qualms and maybe this is a great start at that.