Isn't India's audience ready yet for mature romance?

New Delhi, Oct 8 (IANS) Filmmakers are constantly trying to take on-screen romance to a new level but the audiences are not yet adventurous enough to appreciate them. For this they blame "the young movie-going crowd" and the mindset of the people.

If the box-office collections of the Farah Khan-Boman Irani film "Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi" have raised the question whether Indian audiences are ready to watch mature romances, experts are hoping the best for Rani Mukerji-starrer "Aiyyaa", a one-of-its-kind love story.

"One should blame the Indian mindset for all this that always relates love and romance to young people. When they see older couple getting in such relationships, they get uncomfortable," Pulkit Sharma, a clinical psychologist at VIMHANS, told IANS.

"Even on occasions like Valentine's Day, brands and companies showcase young people celebrating and buying gifts for each other," he said.

But aren't there couples marrying in their late 30s, 40s or even later in real life?

Unfortunately, the percentage is low, said Sharma.

He said it will take some more years for our society to accept this change.

Film expert Vinod Mirani agrees.

"According to what I have seen, mature romances do not work. Even Yash Chopra tried that in 1985 with 'Faasle', but it was a flop. The problem is with people's mindset. They can't identify with such stories and characters," Mirani told IANS.

Chopra didn't give up and tried the concept with his 1991 film "Lamhe" starring Anil Kapoor and Sridevi and burnt his fingers again.

Despite exceptional music, good performances and flawless direction, the film didn't appeal to the masses.

There are a few exceptions, like Amitabh Bachchan-Tabu starrer "Cheeni Kam" that fared well.

Comparing such movies with the ones made outside India, film critic Omar Qureshi told IANS: "What happens internationally is that script is the king. The story is written in such a way and is so strong that you put anyone in the role and they will fit the bill because they transform according to the character."

"With someone of the stature of Amitabh Bachchan, who can play any role, the film has to be good. Also, he is already such an established superstar and has a huge fan following.

"And that is what probably went wrong with 'Shirin Farhad...'. However beautiful the story is, Boman and Farah are not considered superstars in the commercial sense. That is why their presence did not manage to attract viewers to theatres," he said.

A majority of moviegoers are young, who connect to young love.

"Romantic heroes have to give up after some time. They can't do romance all their life. Even Rishi Kapoor had to give up.

But I think young romance will keep entertaining viewers because the main audience is also young," said Mirani.

But the not-so-encouraging response has not deterred filmmakers from experimenting with unique scripts.

"Aiyyaa", produced by Anurag Kashyap and starring southern actor Prithviraj, is one such film that tries to showcase a mature love.

It is about Maharashtrian girl Meenakshi Deshpande (Rani), who lives in a Bollywood-style fantasy world and tries to woo Malayali man Surya (Prithviraj). Failure is not a defeat for them -- it's just a delay.

For instance, expert in candy-floss romance, Karan Johar says he too is open to the idea of elderly romance, despite the fact that his "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna", about the same, turned out to be a damp squib.

He told IANS: "I believe that the success of such films depend upon the filmmaker, who wants to make it. If I'm motivated by the subject, I'll love to make it. If it comes to me and I like the screenplay, I have no problem making it. If the characters have a connect, any film can do well, be it any storyline."

(Aastha Khurana can be contacted at aastha.k@ians.in)

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