Ah! My first blog post and I move one more step closer to becoming the armchair activist I always dreamt of. So while I had all sorts of ideas about making my first one as juicy, eyeball grabbing and scandalous as possible (from a post about how snuff films are important to our society to why Trump is a dream master for a girl in a dom-sub relationship : I had thought of it all), I’d start with a rather dry topic : the age of women characters in mainstream blockbuster movies.

Yesterday saw the release of the fourth (or fifth , if you count the Jeremy Renner needs pills to survive drama) movie in the Bourne franchise : Jason Bourne. The series began in 2002 with The Bourne Identity. At that time Matt Damon was 31 years old while his female lead Franka Potente was 27 years old. 14 years have passed since and in 2016 we get Jason Bourne. Matt Damon is 45 years old now and his female lead Alicia Vikander is..lo and behold, 27 years old. Whoa!

This of course is not limited to Hollywood. Back home in India the same problem is equally prelevant, if not more Let us see the last 5 movies from the arguably 5 biggest stars in the country : Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Rajnikanth and Akshay Kumar (this is a bit of a toss up : but I am leaving out Hrithik Roshan, Ajay Devgn Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor and the likes just based on the sheer consistency of Akshay and his films) and compare the age differences between them and the lead actress/romantic interest.

Salman Khan :

1. Sultan (2016) – Salman  50 years Anushka Sharma 28
2. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015)- Salman 49 Sonam Kapoor 30
3. Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) – Salman 49 Kareena Kapoor Khan 34
4. Kick (2014) – Salman 48 Jacqueline Fernandez 28
5. Jai Ho (2014) Salman 48 Daisy Shah 29

The smallest age gap between him and his lead actress was thus in Bajrangi Bhaijaan and that too was a whopping 15 years.

Aamir Khan :

1. PK (2014) Aamir -49 years Anushka Sharma 26
2. Dhoom 3 (2013) – Aamir 48 Katrina Kaif 30
3. Taalash (2012) – Aamir 47 Kareena Kapoor Khan 31 Rani Mukherjee 34
4. 3 Idiots (2009) – Aamir 44 Kareena Kapoor Khan 28
5. Ghajini (2008) Aamir 43 Asin 22

The smallest age gap between him and his lead actress was thus in Taalash and that too was 13 years.

Shah Rukh Khan :

1. Fan (2016) SRK – 50 years Waluscha D Souza 31 (Funnily SRK played a character imitating him in real life. In real life, however, Gauri Khan Shah Rukh’s actual wife is 45 years old. But the actress playing her had to be 31. Kudos, Bollywood.)
2. Dilwale (2015) SRK – 49 Kajol 44 years
3. Happy New Year (2014) SRK 48 Deepika Padukone 28
4. Chennai Express (2013) SRK 47 Deepika 27
5. Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012) SRK 46 Anushka Sharma 24

Only Dilwale, which tried to cash in on the generational nostalgia of DDLJ (a Bollywood classic starring the pair of SRK and Kajol), has an age difference of 5 years. After that the differences are ranging from 19 – 22 years. Also ironic is that Kajol, 45 years old now, barely gets a film offer against male stars 5-6 years elder to her. While SRK, 50, gets to do countless movies with actresses half his age. Can you even imagine a movie where Kajol is romancing Tiger Shroff? I think not.

Rajnikanth :

1. Kabali(2016) Rajni 65 years Radhika Apte 30
2. Lingaa (2014) Rajni 63 Anushka Shetty 32 Sonakshi Sinha 27
3. Kochadaiiyaan (2014) Rajni 63 Deepika Padukone 28
4. Enthiran/Robot (2010) Rajni 59 Aishwarya Rai 36
5. Sivaji (2007) Rajni 56 Shriya Saran 24

The smallest age gap between him and his lead actress was thus in Enthiran and that too is a mind boggling 23 years.

Akshay Kumar :

1. Houseful 3 (2016) Akshay 48 years Jacqueline Fernandez 30
2. Airlift (2016) Akshay 48 Nimrat Kaur 33
3. Singh is Bling (2015) Akshay 47 Amy Jackson 23
4. Brothers (2015) Akshay 47 Jacqueline 29
5. Gabbar is Back (2015) Akshay 47 Shruti Hasan 29 Kareena Kapoor Khan 34

The smallest age gap between him and his lead actress was thus in Gabbar where Kareena only had a special appearance and was *spoiler* killed off in the first act of the film. Even then the age difference was 13 years.

This massive age difference between the lead actor and his romantic lead was often a running joke in the Bond films. Sadly, today this has become the norm. Ben Affleck (48), Robert Downey Jr (50) can all play lead superheroes but the highest aged female superhero? Gal Gadot and Scarlett Johansson both are 31 and probably the oldest of the branch. Both Halle Berry (49) and Famke Janssen (51) were conveniently written out of the X Men franchise as soon as they crossed a certain age and replaced by two twenty somethings.

Age is just a number in the film industry only if you are a man. If you are a woman, however, you have an expiry date and post that you get to bathe in all the glory of divorced mother and ageing grandmother roles. So much for equality.