It is amazing what children can make even the most obdurate parents do. The mythical beauty Sophia Loren had decided she would never return to acting after the ill-fated Nine, the 2009 musical which was a box-office disaster. But then her son Edoardo Ponti made the gorgeous Ms Loren an offer that she couldn’t resist. At age 86, she gets to play Madame Rosa in The Life Ahead, the story of an ageing rich Italian holocaust survivor who takes in a young refugee. It is a devastatingly emotional story told with a flair and finesse befitting Ms Loren’s stature and aura.
The performance is already being hailed as Oscar-worthy. If Ms Loren wins she would be, at 84, the oldest winner of the Oscar for best actress. The director who happens to be Ms Loren’s mother had earlier directed the iconic actress in Between Strangers in 2002. Ms Loren has admitted that if it weren’t for her son she would not have been tempted to return to the screen at a juncture in her life when she has achieved all there is the achieve, and then some more.
It’s only in the West where actresses beyond a certain age get a chance to take centre stage in cinema. And let’s face it: Sophia Loren is ageless. I remember revelling in her incandescent presence in Sunflower in 1970. It was directed by her husband of 50 years Carlo Ponti. Now 50 years later she is just as incandescent under her son’s direction in The Life Ahead.
Would our cinema honour the female legends Waheeda Rehman, Mala Sinha, Sharmila Tagore, Vyjanthimala, Asha Parekh and Shabana Azmi with the same impassioned dedication?
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