In US-based director Anu Menon’s Waiting 66-year old Naseeruddin Shah is paired with 32-year old Kalki Koechlin, though not in a conventional way.
Of late filmmakers have been taking their lead actors away from the conventional romantic equations to experiment with unusual combinations in unusual relationships.
The movement towards a credible relationship of mutual trust between a young woman and a much older man was recently explored the failed comedy Shaukeens where the very attractive Lisa Haydon played up to three old men(Rishi Kapoor, Anu Kapoor and Piyush Mishra). The sexual undercurrent in the gender equation was a downer.The rapport between the PYT and the seductress was lowered to a level of leching.
Anu Menon’s Waiting shows how two people, an older hopefully wiser man and a younger much less experienced woman, can develop an enduring empathy without any sexual relationship. To that extent this film is a clutter-breaker. It will be interesting to see how audiences react to two very cerebral actors like Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin separated by nearly30 years coming together in Waiting.
Not that young actresses being paired with older men is unique in our cinema.From Rajnikanth whose heroines are one-third his age to Sanjay Dutt who at 52 starred with Prachi Desai 26 in Zilla Ghaziabad. Still, nothing to beat the Dev Anand-Tina Munim pair .He was 55 and she was 21 when they came together for the first time in Des Pardes.
Noted critic Raja Sen draws a distinction between a screen pair and the lead actors co-starring together. “Naseer and Kalki are not “paired”, per se, at least in any romantic sense of the word. They are co-starring in the film, certainly, but I believe that’s all.”
Says director Anu Menon, “Waiting is about two people who are from very different world and have opposite attitudes to life.It is a very intimate story about these two unlikely kindred spirits.”