Meryl Streep is one of a kind in the film industry that worships youth and the anorexic body. Even though Hollywood is kinder to forty plus actresses than Bollywood is, still, older female stars have problems finding good roles unless they produce films for themselves. And Streep at 66 is showing no sign of slowing down. And it’s not as if she is playing younger women; Hollywood is miraculously exciting finding roles for a woman her age.
In last week’s release Ricki And The Flash, Streep played a sexy rocker in her fifties, who gave up her family (husband and three kids) to follow her dream of being a musician. In India, it would be taken for granted that the woman would put her family first.
In spite of failing to make it big, and battling with aging and bankruptcy, she is not a quitter. She admits to her ex-husband, “You know the story. Those wolves took advantage of me. They told me I could be the next Melissa Etheridge, Emmylou Harris. But what they wanted was a sex doll they could control.” But still, she puts all her energy into her music, while doing a mundane supermarket job in the day, because she has self-respect and talent.
She gets a touch of bitterness when she visits her family after many years and faces the hostility of her now grown up children. Back at the bar where she sings, she rages:
“Funny thing about Mick Jagger. The man has seven children by four different women, can you believe that? 72. Yeah. Busy guy. Of course, he didn’t raise all of them. He was a rock star. And more importantly, he wasn’t a mother… See, daddies are allowed to do what they want. Make love to whomever they want. Take risks. Get hooked on dope. Leave. Who cares if other people get hurt along the way? Doesn’t matter, if you get some great songs out of it, right?... By the way, your kids will still respect and love you. Because you’re “the man.” But if you’re a woman, God forbid. God forbid you miss one school concert, or you forget to be the tooth fairy one time out of 20 teeth. Congrats, you’re a monster. Daddy can go to the South of France and have sex with a model, but Mommy...Mommy is why you’re messed up.”
Years earlier, in a film called Do Anjaane (1976), Rekha had played a woman who chooses career over family, and she had to be punished for it by her revenge-seeking husband (Amitabh Bachchan).
But Meryl Streep plays a woman many would revile with a steely strength and passion. Not just this, look at some of her memorable films—Iron Lady, Mama Mia! The Devil Wears Prada—to name just three, and it’s clear that she is unbeatable…every time. Youth has nothing on her; many a young actress would trade her face and fortune to be Meryl Streep.