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Aishwarya Rai dethroned by Katrina Kaif

After replacing Aishwarya Rai thrice – as the actress with most Internet downloads, ambassador of a jewellery brand and now as the Indian face of Barbie – 24-year-old Katrina Kaif has proved how young actresses in Bollywood are giving their 30-plus colleagues a run for their money.

Not just Aishwarya, Katrina has also replaced 33-year-old Sushmita Sen for an endorsement deal with shampoo brand Pantene.

Noted film critic Saibal Chatterjee says this is a “normal phenomenon” in the industry. “Actors have a very short span of life as most of them start early and by the time they cross 30, the nature of the roles they get are more mature than candyfloss stuff. So the industry is always on the lookout for young blood,” said Chatterjee.

Other young actresses like Deepika Padukone, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Sonam Kapoor and Genelia D’Souza too are walking away with the lion’s share of films and brand endorsements in the industry these days.

Deepika has been cast instead of 35-year-old Aishwarya in Kalpana Lajmi’s Singhasan. She has also bagged the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) ad from 34-year-old dimpled beauty Preity Zinta.

Like Katrina, Bollywood’s size-zero girl Kareena, 28, nudged Aishwarya out of the Filmfare Top-10 Power list. And Masakali girl Sonam Kapoor has succeeded Aishwarya as the Indian face of cosmetic brand L’Oreal.

After the success of Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na, Genelia D’Souza has become a sought after name and replaced Preity and Rani Mukerji as the brand ambassador of Cadbury’s Perk and Fanta respectively.

These apart, Kareena took on the mantle of doing a full-fledged role opposite Aamir Khan in Three Idiots after Kajol walked away.

“When Rekha and Hema Malini turned older, Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi replaced them. When the latter two became slightly older, Aishwarya Rai and Rani Mukerji took their place and now these two are being replaced by Katrina and Priyanka. It’s a cycle – even these actresses will be dethroned some day,” said Chatterjee.

Said Priyanka, who was cast in Dostana after Aishwarya declined the offer: “Age is nothing but a number. You can’t generalise in terms of age, but no one in this industry is indispensable. Someone takes over from somebody. I have and I’m sure it will happen to me too at some point.”

Apart from Tabu, Preity and Sushmita, a lot of the older actresses – Bipasha Basu, Aishwarya, Rani, Lara Dutta, Kajol and Shilpa Shetty – are making few appearances on screen.

While some say that they have made a personal choice to do just a few roles in a year, others like Shilpa and Preity are shifting gears between acting and business after they chose to be part of the cricket extravaganza, the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Preity, who recently featured in offbeat films like The Last Lear and Deepa Mehta’s Heaven On Earth, says she might get back to her bubbly, girl-next-door image, only if she gets a role with substance. “I will do masala movies for sure, but I would like to have substance in them. I can’t do just the glam chick any longer. I’ve been there, done that. It just doesn’t inspire me any more. I have to leave that for the other girls to do. That’s the way one grows,” she had said.

But right now she has only one film in her kitty – Jahnu Barua’s Har Pal. Tabu, 38, who has been absent from the silver screen after The Namesake and Cheeni Kum, too has only one film Banda Yeh Bindaas Hai. Similarly, Rani also has just one project in hand – Yash Raj Films’ tentatively titled Hadippa.

And 34-year-old Kajol, who drifted away from the scene after marriage, is doing only Karan Johar’s much-hyped film My Name Is Khan. “I am not going to do four films a year. I will work, but at my own speed,” said Kajol.

After marrying actor Ajay Devgan in 1999, Kajol cut down on her film roles and makes occasional appearances on the silver screen.

However, Aishwarya’s kitty still seems full – the Padma Shri awardee is shooting for Mani Ratnam’s Ravana with husband Abhishek Bachchan, Tamil film Endhiran (earlier titled Robot) alongside superstar Rajnikanth and Vipul Shah’s Action Replay opposite Akshay Kumar.

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