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Monday, October 20, 2008

Poll: Abhi to main jawaan hoon – choose Bollywood’s “Evergreen” Actor #1

With most of North America embroiled in election fever (Canada had a general election last week and the US presidential poll isnt far off), its time for democracy to make its appearance on Old is Gold. Today readers, we are going to select the “Evergreen” Baadshah of Bollywood!
We’re all familiar with the phenomenon of popular stars who continue to act “boyish” inspite of expanding midriffs, receding hairlines and increasing age. Mallika Pukhraj’s famous ghazal Abhi to main jawaan hoon (I am still young) is their motto and they’re sticking with it! Strangely, this phenomenon is confined to male stars and in over 100 years of Indian Cinema, its never spread to the feminine half of the industry! Actors from every decade of Indian cinema have been guilty of refusing to grow old (in their cinematic age) but the late 80s and early 90s are special in that they are overflowing with examples of stubbornly “youthful” superstars!
To help you decide who you’d like to crown the Peter Pan of Bollywood, I’ve made a list of the contenders:

10. Sunil Dutt
Young Sunil Dutt
He was very handsome and debonair – once upon a time. Like most Bollywood heroes, he continued well past his prime and we were treated to the sight of hero Dutt in late 70s and early 80s with a pot belly and an “Uncle chest”.
Old Sunil Dutt
Peak “Evergreen” moment: Dard Ka Rishta (1982) where he romances not one but two young beauties (Smita Patil and Reena Roy)!
9. Raj Kapoor
Young Raj Kapoor
The Kapoors as a family have been at the forefront of this “jawaani-deewaani” (mad youth) movement - from tubby, Papaji (Prithviraj Kapoor) wheezing romance at an advanced age, to RK and his sons. I’ll come clean and admit to a strong prejudice against RK - I thought he always looked old, even as a relatively young man! But the blobbier he got, the more “simple” his characters became (Rum has analysed this in detail, here) while his heroines just got younger and more nubile. old Raj Kapoor
The zenith of his “evergreen-ness” was Sapnon Ka Saudagar (1968) which starred grandpa Raj and very cute, very young Hema Malini in her Hindi film debut.
8. Sanjay Dutt
Young Sanjay Dutt Like father like son. What he lacks in the pot-belly stakes he more than makes up for in the Uncle-chest department! He has so many “evergreen” moments that its difficult to pick out the outstanding one.

Old Sanjay Dutt

Should it be Munnabhai MBBS where his childhood playmate turns into a half-his-age Gracy Singh or should it be the newer Munnabhai movie where he partners an equally young Vidya Balan, or (help!) is his peak “evergreen” moment yet to come?

7. Kishore Kumar
Young Kishore Kumar

To be fair, I never understood his appeal (inspite of the great Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi) and have loathed most movies he lent his acting skills to. But nothing had prepared me for the sight of his chubby 40+ self playing a college student and romancing a 20 something Mumtaz in Pyaar Diwaana! Older Kishore Kumar
Peak evergreen moment: Hard to pick. Should it be Pyar Kiye Ja where he plays Shashi Kapoor’s college friend but looks like he should be playing SK’s Dad or Pyaar Diwaana (1972) where he looks way too old to be still in college?
6. Dilip Kumar
Young Dilip Kumar
I was so used to seeing him look old and romancing heroines less than half his age that I was shocked when I realised that he was charismatic and immensely good looking once upon a time! Be that as it may, like all Bollywood greats, here’s another one who stayed “young” too long.Old_Dilip_Kumar
Peak “evergreen” moment: Bairaag (1976) where a sagging jowled Dilip (according to imdb he was 54 then) romances a 20 something Leena Chandavarkar.
5. Jeetendra
Young Jeetendra Jumping Jack Jeetendra was young and handsome in the best tradition of the 70s. However, as anybody who watched him cavort with Jayapradha and Sridevi in ridiculous wigs and ‘staches through the 80s could testify - time wasnt kind to him. And he wasnt too kind to his viewers! Older Jeetendra
Check out Jeetu Uncle romancing a very young Madhuri Dixit – this has to be the zenith of his “youthfulness”!
4. Rishi Kapoor
Young Rishi Kapoor
Cute, pretty, Chintu followed in his Dad’s footsteps for a lot longer than any other Kapoor before him (and hopefully after him). I became a die-hard fan of 60s and 70s Bollywood mainly through an overdose of watching a sweater-clad, pot-bellied Rishi romancing heroines half his age, well into the 1990s.Old Rishi Kapoor
Peak “Evergreen” moment: Romance with cute kid Divya Bharti in Deewana (1992). Shouldnt this be classified as inappropriately gross? (He went on to assault viewers with a lot worse than this, but I had stopped watching!)
3. Amitabh Bachchan
Young Amitabh Bachchan My earliest memories of him are movies like Akayla (1991) and Khudah Gawah (1992) where he was ageing not-so-gracefully. Nothing though could have prepared me for the monstrosity that was Sooryavansham (1999)! Just when I had begun to recognise that he was a good actor and had some great films (in the 70s and early 80s), his hirsute 21st century avatar broke upon me and I realised that I will never love Big B!Old Amitabh Bachchan
Peak “Evergreen” moment: Sooryavansham – check out Ageing B romance “childhood” pal Rachana Bannerji. There was worse to come which thanks goodness, I didnt see!
2. Dharmendra
Young Dharmendra
One of my favorite 60s and 70s star (Jaya Bachchan says he was “Greek God” good-looking and I dont disagree!), he was unstoppable and lit up the 1980s and 90s with his decaying beauty and soft middle. I still love him but wish the 80s and 90s hadnt happened to Dharam Paji.Older Dharmendra
The 80s and 90s are such a blur of Paji’s “evergreen” moments that its hard for me to pick and choose. imdb offers a wide selection – take your pick or check out the “naughty boy”!
1. Dev Anand
Young Dev Anand
Now here’s one guy who has never learnt to act his age and is actually called Bollywood’s “Evergreen” hero! His charm is so irresistible that even nubile teenagers are unable to resist falling for his mummified beauty! One cant help but admire his refusal to age. Old Dev Anand
I often wonder who funds his newer movies that (as far as I know) end up being box-office disasters! On the imdb entry for Dev’s Censor, user shahkaal speculates that “this [could] be the work of cross-border evildoers from an unnamed neighboring country”!
Now for the poll… On whom would you bestow the title of Sartaaj-e-Jawaani (leader of youth) in perpetuity? To whom does your heart call Bade miyaan deewaane aise na bano (Old man, dont be so foolish)?
Hint: For sheer Evergreen-ness, Dev Saab has no competition!


  1. Difficult question - with so many good contenders out there...but I think Dharmendra should win! He did such interesting movies and looked so gorgeous in his young age and then he spoiled it all by not stopping in time!!

  2. I haven't seen movies by all of these actors so I probably shouldn't vote, but based on what I personally have seen, I think I'll have to give it to Amitabh - if even just for KANK.

  3. I vote for Dev Anand all the way - Evergreen Dev is the epitomy of Evergreen-ness.

    Amongst our current crop of Evergreen Heroes: Salman Khan, Govinda, Akshay Kumar, etc. etc. I'm voting for Govinda after his latest turn in Money Hai To Honey Hai because at least the others have tried to keep fit. :D

  4. Thank you for not putting Shammi on here! I think he actually did bow out pretty gracefully, one of the things I love about him.

    RK to me was a dirty old man from the get-go, so I pick him...but they are all pretty guilty! I do think that Sanjay Dutt is the least of the bunch given that he doesn't really do romantic roles (I don't think the Munnabhai films are that romantic either) any more, just tough guys.

  5. I'm probably too ignorant to be qualified to vote, but that never stops voters in real elections. So, I'll go ahead and cast a vote for Dev Anand. His leering at girls half his age creeps me out.

    I was thinking about this "evergreen" phenomenon recently and realized that, while I can accept bizarre coincidences, improbable medicine, and just about anything else Hindi films throw at me, I just can't believe that an obviously middle-aged man is really a young college student. My suspension of disbelief doesn't reach that far.

  6. Dev Anand all the way- no commenting on his recent cinema; the man deserves it for sheer devotion and guts. Totally admirable!

  7. Thanks everyone, for commenting and voting. I shouldnt probably be so severe on ageing actors for not acting their age. They do still need to earn their bread-butter and Bollywood doesnt seem to have many middle-aged/senior roles on offer. Still, it gets me mad that while 30 something actresses get pushed into mother-roles, 50+ actors keep romancing teenagers!

    Ruchi, we certainly are spoilt for choice with so many "evergreen" actors! The looking-gorgeous-and-doing-interesting-movies-in-the-prime part holds good for good ol' Dev Saab too. But perhaps you werent moved by his hair-puff?

    Beth, to be fair to Big B, he was playing a character that is old but acts young in KANK. He committed worse atrocities in the 90s when he played numerous real-to-goodness young characters!

    Filmi Girl, you're so right about today's aging stars. Except for Govinda, they do make the effort to stay in shape. (Didnt include Govinda because I never watch him if I can help it!)

    memsaab, Shammi (and Shashi) did very few "young" roles well into middle age and aged more-or-less gracefully. The fact that I am not entirely unbiased in this case has nothing to do with it! :-)

    Sanjay Dutt also stays in shape so he isnt quite as off-putting as some of the others. RK ofcourse, always struck me as a dirty-old-man even in his "classics"!

    Cindy, welcome to OiG.

    I love Dev Anand's B/W movies and even some of his 60s and 70s ones - but try to stay away from most of his later ones because he's turned into such a creepy old man! And I completely agree with suspension of disbelief stopping at actors' ages. I guess for fantasy to work well, there should be some believable parts mixed in with the bizarre and the wonderful and for me too, an actor's visible age is one of the believable parts.

    Shweta, he certainly invested in good cinema acting-wise and production-wise. And I do love him. But his insistence on making movies where teenaged girls fall for an 80 year old Dev seriously creeps me out!

  8. Yeah, I picked Raj Kapoor, because his film heroines just kept getting "nakeder" with each movie. Then, when he got to fat to play the hero himself he took Rishi or Shashi to play a version of him.

    But I would like to add that I find Jeetendra of the 80's better looking that Jeetendra of the late 60's eartly 70's. I love him with a moustache.

    One thing is for sure,Dev Anand is just looking scary these days.

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  10. Ohhh what a brilliant poll! I think Vinod Khanna is an evergreen guy as he was in Chandni(1989) and the horny porny sleazy Dayavan with a much tooo young Madhuri!
    Rishi was in his evergreen best in Daman or some movie with Juhi and Arbaaz Khan, he looked reaaaly old!

  11. Stella_1, RK's movies were certainly a voyeur's delight! And did you check out the Jeetendra video I have linked to? He was king of silly dance moves (until Govinda beat him to it) and very, very, horrible love-triangles (starring very young actresses) in the 80s. Compared to that, everything about his 70s self seems better!

    theBollywoodFan, I stay away from AB's newer movies and Lolita-like stories creep me out - so no Nishabd for me, ever! :-)

    Anil Kapoor almost made it to the list too! But he is a lot better preserved than Sanjay Dutt and really doesnt play all that many "young" roles.

    As far as the viability (social and economic) of older actresses playing younger characters like their male counterparts go - the example of aged-30-going-on-50 Meena Kumari successfully playing 18 year olds should be a good one. I think the longevity of male stars' youth is a clear example of what my father refers to as "Adam's World"!

    Rum, very true. Vinod Khanna and even Shatrughan Sinha were equally guilty of hanging on to their youth. 80s and 90s were the days of "evergreen" stars! The next decade will see some more stars added to the "Evergreen Hall of Fame" with SRK, Akshay, Salman, et al getting old! The Rishi film you're referring to is probably Daraar(1996), but he had started looking old as early as 1986 with Nagina!

  12. Interesting poll!! My vote goes to Rishi Kapoor mainly for playing the young stud that he's not in a lot of movies like Kasak, Deewana, etc.

    I haven't seen enough AB and Dev Anand movies to comment on them though. I don't think Sanju deserves to be on here....yet. Cause if he's on here, we have to add the Khan's on here, Anil, and Govinda.

  13. Nicki, Rishi began to look old at a relatively young age (he was only in his mid 30s in Nagina) and then made it worse by carrying on way too long!

    And yes, Anil Kapoor and Govinda also deserve mention here but neither of them is quite as wrinkled as Sanju Baba is. Besides, as I mentioned in my comment to Filmi Girl I never watch Govinda if I can avoid it! I have noticed that Salman Khan has suddenly begun to show his age (not SRK yet, and Saif also not so much) but havent seen any of his recent films. Guess I'll have to do a post pretty soon for "evergreen" actors of the coming decade!

  14. You've inspired me to think on my top shamelessly "Evergreen" actors! I can't wait to see your take on the new crop.

    Sallu has started to look kind of ragged. Akki still looks pretty fresh - as does Saif. Saif seems to have made the wise choice to stick with heroines closer to his age than his children's. Akki is just really fit. Aamir and SRK seem to have put their romancing of teenager days behind them - and the less said about Govinda, the happier we'll all be. :)

  15. Filmi Girl Cant wait to see your list of ever-youthful stars! It is sad to see your favorite actors grow old - just wish they wouldnt make a bad thing worse by trying to hang on to a vanished youth.

    Saif certainly has made wise choices - at least in his filmography! For Aamir I can only say Dil Chaahta Hai and Rang De Basanti - he played college student in both and looked too old for it! SRK did lust after young Deepika in Om Shanti Om - but he hasnt begun to look his age yet. I have a feeling that Akshay will suddenly start to show his age one fine day, like Salman. At the moment though he is fine.

  16. Interesting post. I wonder whether there are two slightly different issues; one being actors playing roles for which they are to old, like college students, and the other actors being paired with actresses too young for them. Obviously, the two often go hand in hand, but I found that I am more accepting of a large age difference in a relationship if the two characters aren't meant to be the same age.

  17. I'd have to say Amitabh. Or may be Dharmendra? None of the others can make it nearly to the top.

  18. I got to say I agree with Stella for RK's nakeder-women-love and Jeetu with mustache looking oh-so-very-handsome!

  19. gebruss, I too am more accepting of older actors with younger actresses when the actor is playing a character whose age his physical appearance can match. My pet-peeve is actors who continue to play age-inappropriate roles for too long.

    Kanan, welcome to OiG! All of these actors were equally guilty of playing age-inappropriate roles. In the case of Dharamendra, Amitabh Bachchan and Dev Anand though, the contrast between their younger selves, the great movies they did and the stuff they put out in their later days is very striking and very disappointing. Re Raj Kapoor, I just read a piece about him over at Karen's blog that totally grossed me out!

  20. Hmm interesting! would be interesting to read that whole thing. What's the source of that clipping? I'm not surprised to read the quote on there after what I've seen in his films, no make that the songs of his films. I've watched only a very few movies of him like Sangam, Shree 420. Can't even remember any others.

  21. I agree about the earlier and the latter stuff about those three stars. I for some reason can't stand Dev Anand in some ways so I haven't watched much of him except for like Guide, Hare Rama Hare Krishna and Johnny Mera Naam and a few others may be. Have you seen him move his hands in khoya khoya chand? Ah it's so annoying... :P

    As for Dharampaaji and Amitabh, I would be able to find some watchable and good stuff even later on in their careers so I like them better, plus I think they have an ability to act and look charming.

  22. Yes I have seen Dev Anand act like he had a degenerative muscular disease in Khoya khoya chand and it used to put me off no end! But he has so many good movies in the 50s and 60s (way more than any other of his contemporaries) that its impossible not to like him. There was CID, Kala Bazaar, Kala Paani, Tere Ghar Ke Saamne, Solva Saal and my personal favorite Bombai Ka Babu and these were just in the B/W era. But you're right, a great actor he certainly wasnt.

    The Raj Kapoor quote was from a 1984 issue of Stardust - you can find the post here.

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  24. LOL @ degenerative muscular disease.

    I guess I'll have to check out the "good movies" you just suggested.

    Thanks for the link to the post and magazine info.

  25. theBollywoodFan, I guess because our society tends to enforce the paradigm of older man and younger woman and frowns very heavily on the opposite, our cinema tends to reflect and further enforce it. So, mainstream cinema rarely explores older woman + younger man relationships. I'm all for more such ground-breaking stuff in films!

    Regarding item numbers, the girls' "items" are inserted pretty much as a sort of a PlayBoy centre-fold while the male item numbers I've seen so far are more of the lets-get-some-star-dust-into-the-movie variety. When Bollywood produces a bonfide crop of item number guys (whose only job is to be a male Helen/Mallika Sherawat/Raakhi Saawant) then perhaps there will be the same amount of criticism for guys doing it.

    Kanan, Karen's blog has plenty of interesting gossip from my favorite days, but if the RK quote is anything to go by, I am beginning to wonder if I really want to know all of it!

  26. Strange that you don't have Kamalhasan on this list.

    He isn't pure Bollywood I agree but his cavorting with the nubiles(?) is most off-putting. Esp. the Vasundhara Das combo where he was feeling her up and being creepy as hell.

    Or are there different norms for the Tollywood and such like?!


  27. Anonymous, thanks for stopping by. I did think about Kamal Haasan as his cavorting with Vasundhara Das was really quite off-putting. To be fair to him though, he has inflicted very few of these "youthful" characters on Bollywood viewers (even in Tollywood he wouldnt stand a chance against the likes of Rajnikant, MGR, Sivaji Ganesan, et al) and just didnt make the grade against Bollywood's stalwart youth!

  28. Dev Anand wins the tite -hands down. Some of his recent movies which he still continues to act in are so bad that I wonder why the pl filming them dont notice that. Its an assault to the senses to even watch scenes from those movies of DEv saab.

    Nice post.

  29. B, thanks for stopping by. Agreed, Dev Saab should have stopped starring in his movies somewhere in the 70s. They've been steadily growing worse and I am amazed that he can raise the money to finance such blatant self-indulgence.

  30. Dharmendra all the waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!

    Sensitive and Rock solid.

    How Hindi cinema flopped one of its greatest stars
    The original He-Man's towering talent got overlooked because the industry didn't know how to deal with his Greek god looks.

    This line can be paraphrased to define Dharmendra’s career as well, “Had he not been so devastatingly good looking, he would have been recognized for the truly great actor he is.”

    His handsomeness has proved a handicap and resulted in his talent often being underestimated.Had he played the ‘Anand’ or ‘Deewaar’ roles, he just would not have got all the bouquets Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh got because his looks distract the audience when he is playing a serious role. With ordinary or less-than-ordinary looking stars, the audience tends to concentrate on their acting. With Dharmendra, people tend to look at him, not his performance.

    He has a very sensitive face, an asset in portraying complex psychological situations. Dharmendra remains a greatly under-rated actor of the Indian Cinema.

    No wonder that he is Hrishikesh Mukherjee's favorite actor.

    As 4 me, HE IS THE BEST EVAAAAAAAAA!!! Nuff said!