Bollywood marriages: Then and now
With speculation building around Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor's shaadi, a look at how perception about marriage is beginning to change in Bollywood
Genelia D’Souza and Riteish Deshmukh turned out to be the most poker-faced comic talent of Bollywood. For 10 years, they went around straight-faced claiming they were just co-stars and friends. And then suddenly, all the media speculations turned out to be true. They got married in the first week of February, this year. Soon there is the grand Saif Ali Khan-Kareena Kapoor wedding, which, if reports are to be believed, might be held in October this year. Saif’s sister Soha had said that the date of the wedding would be decided after the release of Saif and Kareena’s film ‘Agent Vinod’.
One really doesn’t see the connection between marriage and career, unless we go back to the age-old fear of actresses losing their aura and career after marriage. Some years ago, Saif had confessed to a writer, that marriage would indeed affect Kareena’s career. Strange, that he should think this way, when his mother had her most glorious innings as an actress after she got married. Unfortunately ‘sindoor’ and the ‘mangalsutra’ did seem to be the proverbial telltale signs that put a cross across an actress’ career. ‘Shaadi’ for actresses, therefore remained in the shadows until very recently. But this year, Bollywood seems to be bubbling to the surface with marital vows. Apart from Saif and Kareena, Saif’s sister Soha and her boyfriend Kunal Khemu are also planning to tie the knot. Randeep Hooda has found his better half in Neetu Chandra, whose bold and provocative pictures shocked many.
The actresses do tend to lose their sexy plumes once the altar is in sight. Saif’s mom, Sharmila Tagore graduated from the bikini before marriage to nine-yard saris after marriage. Chances are, Kareena would follow the same route. A director who has worked with Kareena says, “It won’t be a problem for Bebo to fit into the choti begum’s role. She is the kind of girl who would do anything for love. Notice how she is seen more often in saris these days. Saris automatically mean domestication in our film industry. The minute you see an actress draping a sari too often in public, you know marriage is on her mind.”
A lot of single actresses are seen in saris this year. Is it a sign of things to come? Hema Malini’s daughter, Esha Deol recently got engaged to a Sindhi businessman Bharat Takhtani. The wedding is just round the corner. “Why wait?” reasons Hema. “When Esha has found an eligible boy and she’s sure she wants to marry him, why delay the wedding? We’re looking at the first available date. I’m so happy that my daughter has found the man she loves.”
Lara Dutta who married tennis champ Mahesh Bhupathi last year, feels marriage has made her a complete woman. “It is by far the most important role of my life. But that doesn’t mean that the other roles can be marginalised. I don’t do anything half-heartedly.” Celina Jaitley who is married to foreigner Peter Haag, is happy to see so many actresses giving love and marriage a chance beyond their careers. “I am extremely happy that Bollywood has come out of the artificial phase of trying to make actresses these special species, who are immune to the ordinary desires of having their own families. Marriage and children are the very essence and foundation of any society." Gul Panag, who got married last year to her long-time sweetheart, feels marriage should have been a part of the entertainment industry always. “Weddings are a part of life in other professions. I'm glad it's finally happening in ours too. I never understood why getting married was such a big deal in Bollywood.” Minissha Lamba, who’s single and is as open to the idea of marriage as any actress, feels audiences today are more open to married actresses. “In the West it is common for married actresses to be successful. Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie have been married for years and have had successful careers. Here, it is different. Luckily, the trend is changing.”
Actresses today find it easier to balance marriage and kids with career. “Whether it’s me or Lolo (Karisma) or Madhuri Dixit, the fact that we have supportive husbands, goes a long way in making us comfortable on the sets. We know the kids are being well looked after. I have been busy shooting for my new film ‘Shobana 7 Nights’ and TV show ‘Jeena Issika Naam Hai’. I am not worried about home, as I know that my husband is taking good care of the kids. Star husbands like Farhan Akhtar, Ajay Devgn, or my husband (distributor Anil Thadani) are truly hands-on. It wasn’t so earlier. My father (filmmaker Ravi Tandon) didn’t even know which class I was in at any given time,” says Raveena Tandon.
Neha Dhupia feels that today actresses are more secure about their shelf life. “I feel talent is not defined by being single or married any longer. There is a huge shift in the mindset of filmmakers and audience. Now actresses are far more comfortable realising and combining their personal and professional aspirations.” Filmmaker Sahil Sangha who directed Dia Mirza in ‘Love Breakups Zindagi’ and now intends to marry the pretty actress, feels the rising marriage trend is a sign of changing times. “I personally feel stars today are more secure and confident about their professional space than ever before. The ‘married’ tag is no longer seen as being detrimental to their careers and hence there is no apparent reason for them to delay marriage plans.” Adds Dia Mirza, “I think the world at large is looking for meaningful relationships and personal evolvement. These are processes that enable stability and security.”
Sophie Choudry who is single feels the relay weddings could just be a trend. “Maybe it’s the Domino effect. Seriously, I think there’s a bigger realisation that although movies are a career and it’s good to be passionate about them, there is life beyond cinema. At the end of the day we all share the same basic human needs, to be loved and to find some stability in life. If you’re fortunate enough to meet someone you'd like to spend your life with them, you shouldn’t miss out on that magic. I don’t think marriage should be an option saved for the time when your career is fading.” Sophie has a point. So many actresses have spent their prime pursuing their career, only to find they are left without a companion at the end of the day. Says a heroine of yesteryear, who is single, “Today’s actresses are far smarter than we used to be. We never found love in time. Some of us ended up marrying the last guy who proposed. Nowadays, the actresses have their cake and eat it too. It's not end of an actress’ career if she gets married. Look at Kajol and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. They are doing their best work after marriage. I am sure Kareena too will continue blossoming after her