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Jun 25, 2013 at 12:16pm IST

Shah Rukh turns 40 onscreen; is B'wood finally aging gracefully?

New Delhi: As Shah Rukh Khan gears up to play Rahul yet another time in Rohit Shetty's 'Chennai Express', the actor decides to grow old (finally) on screen as well. The 47 year old actor, who made Rahul the quintessential lover boy of Hindi cinema has been playing the character for more than a decade now. In most of the films, Rahul has been a fresh out of college, young man in his mid twenties trying to woo the love of his life.

From the college brat in 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' to the confused in love, dance director in 'Dil To Pagal Hai' to the hyper and sometimes annoying journalist in 'Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani', SRK has made Rahul an extension of him over the years. But while a thirty year old SRK playing a man in his twenties was convincing a decade back, one can't say the same now.

While the Khans- Salman, Aamir and Shah Rukh Khan - still rule the film industry, the roles that they portray on screen may not always reflect their actual age. They still romance heroines half their age and get to play the eligible bachelor onscreen time and again. But, off late, filmmakers have been casting 40 something heroes in roles which are a tad bit age appropriate.

SRK turns 40 onscreen; is B'wood finally aging gracefully?

As Khan gears up to play Rahul in 'Chennai Express', the actor decides to grow old (finally) on screen as well.

And why not, as Bollywood is making its foray into realistic films, it is perhaps most logical to age the characters and weave a story around characters best suited to the actors. So Rahul of 'Chennai Express' may still be romancing a heroine half his age, performing risky stunts, but the director cleverly adds that he is 40 now, almost like a disclaimer to avoid being mocked at by the audience. And not just SRK, but Salman and Aamir have also started playing mature roles in films. Salman's Chulbul Pandey in 'Dabangg' was in his thirties, Aamir played a man in his late thirties in Reema Kagti's 'Talaash' last year who was married and had an eight year old son.

A year back, SRK's brief act as a 25 year old in Yash Chopra's 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' had drawn a lot of flak from the audience. Khan, who has visibly aged over the years, looked a far cry from a 25 year old in the film. In 2010, Aamir Khan's 18 year old boy act in Rajkumar Hirani's '3 Idiots' had also raised eyebrows. Most felt that in an industry where there is no dearth of younger actors, why would filmmaker rely on established stars and not choose actors according to scripts.

But, as Rajkumar Gupta, director of 'Ghanchakkar' states, "Things are changing. Industry is not star driven and actors are chosen according to scripts now."

Rohit Shetty has taken to a brave step by aging the most loved lover boy of Hindi cinema age. What remains to be seen is whether the audience accepts a 40 year old Rahul romancing a twenty something heroine this time around.