Some life lessons learned from Bollywood film Pathaan
Last week, like so many other New Yorkers, my husband and I excitedly bought tickets to watch “Pathaan.” I am not a big movie person while my husband is all about going to the theater. We have come to a healthy agreement: the superhero or sci-fi movies, he watches with his friends or at home when it’s available for purchase; the other kinds (James Bond or a romcom or a “Pathaan” kind of entertainer) we go to the movies together.
The internet and box office saw new records with the movie “Pathaan.” I believe it earned Rs. 57 crores (about $7 million) on its opening day. For a lot of people, “Pathaan” is about Shah Rukh Khan’s return to movies after four years. Moviegoers whistled and danced in action scenes when SRK beats up the bad guys. People were tearing up when Salman Khan showed up. “Bhai aa gaya.” (Brother is here).
The scenes that evoked reactions (including the one where Dimple Kapadia dies protecting her country) had people applauding. BUT, not even a single soul reacted to Deepika’s controversial song “Besharam Rang.” The audience moved with joy when SRK’s song “Jhoome Jo Pathaan” played at the end of the movie. Sit with that for a moment.
The Challenges of Aging
As a woman in my forties, I am aware of ageism. Thanks to my profession, I might not face it in my day-to-day life because society feels safer around seasoned writers and experienced wellness practitioners. Also, my practices are so deeply rooted in yoga and Ayurveda that my mind is trained to look at the positives in getting older and accepting that this is the cycle of life.
What we resist persists. I have always been an old soul. I like going to bed early, eating mindfully, living intentionally, and connecting deeply. FOMO or peer pressure were never my thing. But in jobs and industries that prefer “younger blood,” many “older folks” struggle with losing visibility.
Being in my forties gives me the license to live my life on my terms without any apologies or explanations. But I see clients, friends, colleagues, and family in their forties and fifties struggling with the transformation in their minds and bodies. It may be the hair loss, weight gain around the hips, hyperpigmentation on the face, sagging skin, aching joints, drooping eyebrows, losing firmness of the skin, poor quality of sleep … The list goes on.
People want to freeze their youth. Ageism in the workplace doesn’t help. An AARP survey said 78% of older workers saw or experienced age discrimination in the workplace in 2020; in 2018, 61% did.
A client once confessed that construction workers don’t catcall at her anymore. Even the most notorious stress harassers didn’t notice her. This doesn’t mean she wants or enjoys verbal assaults by men on the streets of New York. Her pain comes from being acutely aware that people don’t see her anymore. Waking up one day and feeling invisible — if you don’t have practices in place to ground you — can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being.
The Pathaan Solution
Back to the movie, “Pathaan.” Characters jumping out of helicopters or implausible action sequences, or high-energy or impressive sets isn’t why I liked “Pathaan.” Sure, John Abraham’s dialogue delivery and acting surprised me in the best way. People have brought nationalism, patriotism, and other isms when describing this blockbuster. But for me, the film was about celebrating age in Bollywood and beyond. If you haven’t yet watched “Pathaan,” aside from SRK, the other stars are Salman Khan, John Abraham (my favorite actor in this movie), Dimple Kapadia, Ashutosh Rana, and Deepika Padukone.
Dimple Kapadia – 65 years of age
Shah Rukh Khan – 57 years of age
Salman Khan – 57 years of age
Ashutosh Rana – 55 years of age
John Abraham –50 years of age
Each one of the lead actors is unbelievably fit and agile in this film. You can tell how hard they worked to adapt to their roles of spies in an action-packed film. Aside from Deepika, everyone is in their fifties and sixties. The stars are proof that perseverance, along with dedication and hard work, can create success. The movie breaks the stereotype that adventures and fun stop with age.
On a mental level, everyone looks so present and holds their own space with grace. None of them try to act like a 20 something or steal another person’s limelight. In fact, SRK and Salman make jokes about getting older and how doing spy work takes a toll on their lower back. Authentic and real. That kind of confidence only comes with experience, age, and maturity where you aren’t threatened by others around you. It gives you the centeredness that lets you be unfettered by other people’s performances or popularity.
It’s All in the Mind
I know that we can’t do much about the physical transformations brought by age. Aging is inevitable, but keeping our mind young is a choice. Your attitude about getting older is a mindset thing. Either you can complain about what you can no longer do (like bar-hopping, late nights, or keeping off the pounds creeping up). Or you can embrace the fact that each decade makes us wiser and brings us closer to the real us.
Ultimately, mental fitness is much more important than anything. How you think and feel impacts your mind, body, life, and consciousness. It influences your relationships as well as well-being.
What I have learned from “Pathaan” is that age is a number, and it’s an issue of mind over matter. Sure, we live in a youth-obsessed culture. But you can look, feel, and act good no matter your date of birth. Age isn’t a barrier. You must learn to love each decade of your own life and applaud your journey.
“Age is of no importance unless you’re a cheese.” ~ Billie Burke