By Radhika Bhirani
New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) Bollywood can't get enough of its good old, 40-plus actors - Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Ajay Devgn. They ruled the roost in the 1990s and after two decades, they are still calling the shots as they get the best films, meaty roles, highest remuneration and maximum media coverage.
Of course, there are Abhishek Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan and younger heroes like Shahid Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Imran Khan, Abhay Deol and Emraan Hashmi who are a rage, but old continues to be gold at the box office.
Amitabh Bachchan, who is way beyond the 40-mark, has spent over four decades in the Hindi film industry - but the 68-year-old is nowhere close to fading. He is still playing central characters. After the recent "Bbuddah...Hoga Tera Baap", he is set to treat fans with "Aarakshan", as well as the fifth season of the reality show "Kaun Banega Crorepati". And he isn't hanging up his boots as long as his body works.
Other than Big B, Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Salman, Shah Rukh, Aamir, Ajay, Saif Ali Khan and Akshay Kumar top the filmmakers' wishlist, as long as the script and budget are in tune with the stars.
These actors have proved their charm over and over again.
Salman, 45, proved he is still saleable with "Dabangg", the biggest blockbuster of last year. He carried forward his victorious streak in 2011 with the masala film "Ready" and his debut co-production "Chillar Party", which garnered critical acclaim.
The star is facing a receding hair line, but it is not coming in the way of his success. He is now gearing up to entertain fans with "Bodyguard", which is also expected to mint gold at the box office.
B-town 'badshah' Shah Rukh's 2010 film "My Name Is Khan", a love story set against the backdrop of racial discrimination post-9/11, grossed an estimated $18 million at the worldwide box office in its opening weekend.
Now the 45-year-old, who is coping with a back problem and even has a few wrinkles, is coming up with the two most awaited projects of the year - his mega-budget home production "Ra.One" and Farhan Akhtar's "Don 2: The Chase Continues".
At 46, Aamir is one of the most formidable stars. As an actor, director or producer, his films have set new standards in the Hindi film industry. Over the years, he has lost his cute college-boy looks but is still a craze.
Be it "3 Idiots" in 2009, the satirical "Peepli Live" in 2010 or the recently released, cult, madcap comedy "Delhi Belly", Aamir's USP of moulding himself and his work to suit the audience's taste has made him the flavour of all seasons for Indian movie buffs.
From romancing to tickling the funny bone, these actors are doing all kinds of roles.
For instance, 42-year-old Ajay, who stands out for his intense acting, scored well at the box office with the underworld drama "Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai" and the comedy "Golmaal 3" last year. This year his latest, "Singham", a hardcore action movie, is already roaring loud at the box office.
Saif, who hit the 40-mark last year, is set to get experimental now. The 'Chhote Nawab' will be seen in the serious role of a Dalit school teacher in "Aarakshan'. Later, he is expected to set the screen on fire with his home production "Agent Vinod", in which he is said to have performed some mindblowing stunts.
For the daredevil Akshay, the year 2010 was a bit of a damp squib with just one hit - Sajid Khan's "Housefull" - despite several other films like "Khatta Meetha", "Action Replayy" and "Tees Maar Khan".
The depression in his career graph continued this year with not-so-successful films like "Patiala House" and "Thank You", but that hasn't affected Akshay's stardom.
Hopefully, he will jump back into action with "Desi Boyz", "Joker" and "Housefull 2" in the near future. The 44-year-old also has the Indo-Canadian film "Breakaway" lined up for release.
There are also 51-year-olds Anil and Sanjay who manage to enthuse audiences, no matter what. Sanjay entertained with "Double Dhamaal" recently, while Anil is making headway to international shores with a prestigious project like "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol".
As far as Bollywood goes, these stars are ageless.