Your support can turn a life
A title like Cheeni Kum spells immediate connect for a certain age group. "It’s a film about us, senior citizens", says Poornima Singhal (56). And younger citizens are not complaining either. Says Akash Ma1hotra (29): "A 64-year-old romancing someone half his age. I can always borrow some ideas." Vipin Agnihotri gives an overview of the unexpected impact of this movie on the largely conservative society of Lucknow.
Cheeni Kum…. or, ‘fifty mein dum’? Rahul Prakash’s is wife is unable to fathom this 53-year old’s newfound love for the neighbourhood gym. His two teenaged sons are in a flap as to where their brand new deos disappear the next day they buy them. His wife dismisses his gym craze as a passing fad and affectionately teases him ‘shifty at 50’. His college going kids think that he is too old to rock ‘n’ roll. In office, his colleagues wonder why there is a spring in his walk. He tells them that Big ‘B’ has given him and those of his ilk a fresh lease of life. “When Bachchan can be sexy at 60, why can’t I?” he counters while his colleagues nod their heads in unison.
Welcome to the life of the resurgent Indian male! Bitten by the Cheeni Kum bug, men on the flip side of 50 have overnight become the born-again darlings. Pretty young things would love to go out on date with them. And, the young males have suddenly started feeling threatened. They may have the looks but not the experience, or the economic muscle.
Sangita, a young college student, is not averse to dating a ‘senior citizen’. Ask her why and pat comes the reply, “’Coz they have been there, done that…!’ Her friend Juhi echoes the sentiments. She explains: “Men in 50s are a safe bet. They have money plus experience and are not interested in long-term relationships. There is no risk of them telling tales. The best part is our parents will never suspect what’s going on,” she laughs mischievously.
“Cheeni Kum has opened our eyes to a life beyond 50+. Though I am very happy with my family life, there is a lot more to do than just reading newspaper and watching spiritual programmes,” says retired IAS officer Govind Narayan.
While the Amitabh-Tabu flick gave a new dimension to man-woman relationship and Ram Gopal Verma’s Nishabd explored the Lolita syndrome in the Indian context, it was Basu Chaterjee’s Shaukeen in 1981 that broached the taboo subject: old man going after young women. Those who have seen the film would recall the three retired men, portrayed by Ashok Kumar, A K Hangal and Utpal Dutt, ogling at young women. Take the case of Suyesh, a banker with three teenaged kids. Every morning when the kids are away, he goes through their wardrobes, looking for his eldest son’s favourite blue jeans. He struggles into it, tucks in his tummy to the best of his capacity and holds his breath. His face turns red with the exertion. But ‘hey presto’, he shrieks, ‘it fits me to the T’!
In college, silver streaked professors are the most sought after among young comely lasses who are out to impress them. A leading Lucknow based psychologist, R K Kapoor feels such unequal relationships are not based on logic, but impulse. An elderly man can never be on the same wavelength as a much younger woman, he feels. “The trend may set off problems for offsprings of those getting embroiled in such lopsided relationships”, he says.