Showbiz

Age Is Just a Number for These Fine Actors

Written by Omair Alavi

Let’s take a look at some actors from India and Pakistan who felt at ease more when not playing their age, than they would be acting their age

By Omair Alavi Created: 29 February 2020 

Not every actor who ventures into showbiz wants to play the leading man, win over the leading lady and ride into the sunset; there are a few who want to challenge their inner actor as well. There can be no better way to do that than to be something you are not, and these actors have done just that regularly in their careers. Yes, some of them have played the good guy as well who gets the girl but the audience remembers their age-defying roles even after so many years. Let’s take a look at some actors from India and Pakistan who felt at ease more when not playing their age, than they would be acting their age.

Sanjeev Kumar – India (1938 – 1985)

What if I told you that Sanjeev Kumar wasn’t even 40 when he played Thakur in Sholay? He was just 35 when he was cast in the role and 37 when the film was finally released. At one time he was in the reckoning for the role of Jay or Veeru but when he read the script, he immediately went for the biggest role in the movie. Not only that, he went onto play both Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan’s dad in Trishul three years later; that was a brave move because Shashi was a few months older than him whereas Amitabh was hardly 4 years younger. In Mausam, he played the romantic interest and later father to Sharmila Tagore who was six years his junior. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is!

Qavi Khan – Pakistan (Born 1942)

He was in the first PTV play that was aired way back in 1964, and then moved onto films where he played a variety of roles. He was the hero’s sidekick to perfection, acted as a villain in a few movies but most importantly, it was his character acting that won the audience over. Even before his 30th birthday, he was playing older characters which became a regular thing in the 1970s. He remains the only actor to play Waheed Murad’s father (Parakh), Uncle (Mohabbat Zindagi Hai) and friend (in countless films), which is huge considering he was four years younger than the actor. Even on TV, he played grandfather to then child actor Faysal Qureshi in long play Daur-e-Junoon in the 80s that became a huge success since it revolved around an old couple, Naveed Shehzad playing the grandmother to perfection.

Amjad Khan – India (1940 – 1992)

Had director Ramesh Sippy not been lying down on a mattress when Amjad Khan entered the role to give an audition, he might not have become Gabbar Singh in Sholay. Why? The director saw him from an angle that was from below and Amjad Khan looked as gigantic as Gabbar would, hence most of his shots were from below. Due to that, Amjad became one of the most feared villains in Indian films and was usually seen giving Amitabh Bachchan and others a run for their money, on screen. However, he was in a car accident a few years later where he was given drugs to recover but that caused massive weight gain, resulting in Amjad Khan playing character roles even before he turned 40. He was Amitabh Bachchan’s biological father in Parvarish, Suhaag, Laawaris besides other films despite being just two years older than him. His death at the age of 51 ended a promising career where he could have achieved a lot more than he did.

Mehboob Alam – Pakistan (1948 – 1994)

He was just 32 years old when Mehboob Alam played Chaudhry Hashmat in Waris, that went onto win multiple awards including a commendation from the then President of Pakistan General Zia ul Haq. The actor was selected not just for his distinctive face and acting prowess but also because he suffered from chorea (a neurological disorder), something that added value to the character of a 70-year-old landlord. The way he held the walking stick and walked was not his trademark style but symptoms of the disease that would take his life before he turned 50. However, he did go onto star in more PTV classics such as Samundar, Piyaas and Andhera Ujala, proving his versatility in his short career.

Abid Ali – Pakistan (1952 – 2019)

Abid Ali was not just one of the finest actors of his era, he loved playing character roles in films and TV; in his first TV production Dooriyan, he played Noman Ijaz’s father and Nida Mumtaz’s grandfather when he himself was hardly 40. The same goes for Dasht and Doosra Aasmaan where he played young-to-old while being in his early 40s. Even in films, he played elderly roles in films during the 80s and the 90s, with the most unusual one being playing father to Nadeem in Pervez Malik’s Gumnan, despite being 11 years junior to the veteran actor.

Anupam Kher – India (Born 1955)

He was in his 20s, reasonably good-looking and above all, a good actor but even then he wasn’t getting acting roles due to his baldness. Anupam Kher used that to his advantage and played a 65-year-old retired old man when he was hardly 29 in Saransh and thus kick-started his successful career.  He played father to both Raj Babbar and Hema Malini in Vijay who were three and seven years his seniors, respectively. He also played Anil Kapoor’s grandfather in the same film, an actor who is as old as he is and Rishi Kapoor, who is just three years older. It didn’t just stop there as in the many villainous and comic roles, Anupam Kher has defied his age and become characters that are over 60, and very cunning (if villains) and stupid (if not).

Paresh Rawal – India (Born 1955)

He started his career as a villain and switched to comedy as he matured as an actor, but Paresh Rawal rarely played a young man, even when he was young. From playing a don in Naam to terrorizing people in Kabzaa, he was always an older guy who had made a name for himself, even if illegally. For the first 10 years of his career, he was hated by all because of his actions but afterward, he was loved by all, beginning with Andaz Apna Apna where he played the comic villain and the serious twin. Remember, Mark idhar hai or Main Teja Hun Kyon Ke Mera Naam Teja Hai. Don’t be surprised to know that he was hardly 45 when the talented actor played Babu Bhayya in Hera Pheri! Yeh Baburao Ka Style Hai …

Boman Irani – India (Born 1959)

And then there was Boman Irani who may have ventured into films late but had the best start anyone can have. At 42, he was cast as the father of the leading lady Gracy Singh, the dean of a medical school and the person who doesn’t believe in a Jadoo Ki Jhappi ­– yes, as J C Asthana in Munna Bhai MBBS. He was then cast as the Principal in Main Hoon Na and although he later romanced the director Farah Khan in Shirin Farhad Ki To Nikal Padi, by then his career as a character actor was on a roll. He continues to play the villain in films like Don, Khosla Ka Ghosla, etc. yet his elderly roles are things that the audience eagerly awaits.

Omair Rana – Pakistan (Born 1978)

Name an actor who played dad to both Ahsan Khan and Bilal Abbas but is in his 40s? That’s Omair Rana for you who was Ahsan Khan’s father in Aangan and is currently tormenting Bilal Abbas in Pyar Ke Sadqay as his stepfather. This silver-haired thespian fits every character he plays, and that’s why when you find out that he is just 42 years old, you get the shock of your life. He believes that since his hair turned to silver when he was in his 30s, he is using that to his advantage, and bringing the style back. After all, he got to play husband to his crush Atiqa Odho in the drama, didn’t he!

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About the author

Omair Alavi