Meera ji's age conundrum: It is time for our actresses to grow up!

“Meera should play the role of the heroine’s older sister." and “Sangeeta is like a grandmother." Really?!

Sidra Ayaz May 31, 2014
It is evident that, in today’s day and age, women become very sensitive when it comes to discussing matters of ‘age’. Some become defensive, while others become emotionally distraught.

Yesterday, a friend of mine shared a video with me on Facebook, and what a surprising video that turned out to be! In the clip, Meera is seen clarifying speculations about her age. She says,
“My age has always been a very complicated matter and ‘Googles’ also portrays my age incorrectly, even my date of birth. I was born on May 12 but ‘Googles’ shows otherwise. But for now all I can say is that I am under 30. I’m just a girl right now.”

Shocked at her statement I began pondering over how long I had seen Meera ji on television. As far as I can recall, I seem to remember having seen her on TV for a good 20 years, at least! And yet, she insists she is still in her 20’s?

Yes, I understand people want to hide their age, but the least they can do is make it realistic! To know that thousands of people on social media platforms and television have probably seen the video, nationally and internationally, I was highly embarrassed; for Pakistan and for Meera. When our actresses come in front of the camera and make such statements about their age, they give out a bad impression to the world, not only about themselves but also about the people of the country too.

On one side, we compare everything with Bollywood but on the other, we victimise ourselves with trivial, age related conflicts. While Bollywood actors and actresses support charity events and make headlines for doing noteworthy things, ours make headlines for all the wrong reasons.

And of course, if one actress tries to steal the limelight, albeit for trivial reasons such as age, others feel the obligation to jump onto the bandwagon too. In this case it was, Lollywood’s senior actress, Sangeeta Begum, who decided to pass on some ‘advice’ to Meera regarding her age and the kinds of roles she should be taking up. She said,
“Meera falls in the league of senior actors now and should play the role of the heroine’s older sister, instead of the lead character.”

Frankly speaking, I didn’t expect such statements to be made by a senior artist like Sangeeta. Yes, the adults are there to help guide the young, even scold them, but to do so on television, in front of the whole wide world is just making a spectacle of an already dramatised affair is just wrong.

Could she not have emailed, texted, called or paid a visit to Meera to explain things? Was making a public spectacle of it really necessary? The impression of the industry rests upon the shoulders of each and every member, and if mistakes or non-news worthy statements are sensationalised in such a way, what impression are you leaving with our foreign viewers?

As was expected, the show must go on and so Meera obviously retaliated,
“Sangeeta is more like a grandmother now and she should act maturely. She should abstain from exhibiting such childlike behaviour; the underlying motive for passing such a statement was to gain popularity.”

Now, who will tell Meera that Sangeeta, at her age, doesn’t need cheap publicity; she needs philanthropy and prayers. To clarify, I am not criticising Sangeeta’s age here; I’m merely suggesting that, besides focusing on the revival of the film industry, there are other important issues too, like development projects and campaigns against social problems, which require time and attention. If our actors and artists divert their attention towards these issues and work towards solving them, the general public will be thankful to them and that in itself will be great publicity.

But obviously, the conflict doesn’t end here. Pakistan’s very own Barbie doll, Reema Khan, with her charming smile and composed countenance, commented on the on-going age conflict during a programme stating,
“I am not suffering from any age complex. However, many actresses these days, who are grandmothers now, are still hiding their age.”

What was surprising was that none of the other actresses felt the need to rebut Reema’s statement. Perhaps, they are pondering over how to respond to her remark with an equally charming demeanour, all the while maintaining their distance from the age conflict, afraid that they might come in the line of fire as well. Or maybe, the hesitation is a sign that actresses do not want to cross swords with Reema because she is one of the most respected artists in our industry?

Or maybe, the deafening silence is because Reema, keeping her age in mind, decided to quit the film industry even though she was on the zenith of her career. She left the industry gracefully and decided to get married when the time was right.

Whatever the case, the bottom line is, as a nation, we are distracting ourselves from real issues that have a stranglehold on everyday lives. Meera ji’s age is a non-issue and an irrelevant conflict that has absolutely no solution. There never has been a solution to this age conundrum, nor will there ever be. It is time we accept that and move on. Age is just a number and this number will not help us solve the plethora of issues that our country is currently enduring.
Sidra Ayaz
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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Mushtaq | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend Agreed..writer too has plenty of time to write baseless things.
x | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend What a self righteous blog! "Or maybe, the deafening silence is because Reema, keeping her age in mind, decided to quit the film industry even though she was on the zenith of her career. She left the industry gracefully and decided to get married when the time was right" Your statement shows you it is people like you who force actresses, and women, to hide their ages. What age, as determined by you, is 'right' for an actress to get married and quit? It is precisely this mentality which dictates to women that they are 'too old' now, 'time to get married or you will be an old spinster', 'time to have kids', 'time to do this or that'. As for your comaprison with bollywood, even with fresh blood of actors and actresses, the older ones continue to age gracefully and yet do their job. Older actresses can be heroines too, they need not act be or like teenagers for that. These social expectations foisted on women and social limitations imposed on account of age produce such meeras who hide their ages. The film industry is her bread and butter, if she feels pretending to be a twenty something helps her in getting leading roles and continuing her job, more power to her. She didn't retire but continues to work and even if she lies about her ages, she shows that older women can still act.
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