Why does B-Town avoid casting married actresses?

Mar 11, 2014, 11:22 IST | Shaheen Parkar

Bollywood's age old mindset of a married actress not being desirable for major roles sadly still remains intact. We look at how a heroine's marital status can prove to be a death knell for her career...

Deepika Padukone recently took part in a media group's conclave in the captial in the session titled 'Blockbuster Express: Why Heroines are the New Heroes in Bollywood'. With a golden run at the box office, the star was considered an ideal example of it.

Kareena Kapoor Khan
After her marriage, Kareena Kapoor Khan has apparently been getting less film offers 

Shah Rukh Khan may have decided that the name of the leading female actresses roll first in the credit list of all his films. Some female stars may have been able to crack B-Town's glass ceiling by fetching plum roles with the box office recipts of their projects being in the pink of health. Yet, the age-old myth about Bollywood actresses who tie the knot shorten their shelf-life even further stays. At best they are handed roles that befits their marital status.

Kajol wants to act only according to her convenience
Kajol wants to act only according to her convenience

In Hollywood, it is common for married actresses to be super successful not only after marriage and motherhood (some even have a brood), but in B-Town the tides may be changing, but at a snail's pace.

Vidya Balan continues to get offers even after marriage
Vidya Balan continues to get offers even after marriage

Casting woes
Recall Sanjay Leela Bhansali's now-famous statement before he began filming Ram Leela? When original choice Kareena Kapoor wed Saif Ali Khan in 2012, he had reservations about Begum Bebo being his Juliet in his version of the love story. He had apparently stated that his Juliet cannot be a married woman, so he had to drop her. While Kareena maintained she had walked out of the project. Bhansali felt after seeing her wedding pictures, it would have been impossible for him to pass off Bebo as Juliet.

Genelia D'Souza
Genelia D’Souza vamoosed from the big screen after her marriage to Ritiesh Deshmukh

Though actresses like Vidya Balan, Madhuri Dixit and Kajol may not find the married tag detrimental to their careers, there are many actresses who bid goodbye to films after marriage — some even when the going is good. An actress like Juhi Chawla had kept her marriage to industrialist Jay Mehta a secret for long in a bid to save her career. Lately, there have been speculations about the reticient Rani Mukerji being married to production house honcho Aditya Chopra, but she is apparently concealing the fact to not dim her career prospects.

Change of direction
After Twinkle wed Akshay Kumar, she bid goodbye to films and reinvented herself as an interior designer.
After Twinkle wed Akshay Kumar, she bid goodbye to films and reinvented herself as an interior designer. 

Kareena seems to be the latest to join the missus brigade who is rumoured to be slowly going missing in action from the big screen. She has a Singham 2 on hand, but with her other projects being shelved and her decision to work not simply because a pal is making the film, but what her role will be, has put Bebo in an uneasy position. On the other hand, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is taking her own time to make a comeback after motherhood, while even a Genelia D'Souza vamoosed from the horizon in 2012 after she wed Riteish Deshmukh. While Vidya Balan still has it going, there are already whispers about the kind of offers coming to her.

Trade anaylst Taran Adarsh finds it demeaning to even suggest that a married actress does not get any work. He feels there have been definitely winds of change. He says, “It is a misconception that once an actress ties the knot, she does not get any work. It all depends whether you can deliver a role that works — married or not does not matter. There are single actresses who do not deliver too, so this is just a bias.”

Poonam Dhillon
Poonam Dhillon

Adarsh adds, “The casting call is taken by the director along with the writer. Though nowadays the studios play a vital part and call the shots in casting. Ultimately it is the decision of the actress what she wants to do.”

Actress Poonam Dhillon feels that during her heydays 15 to 20 years ago it was widely prevalent. She says, “Things are gradually changing now, though slowly. There is a shift, but not drastically. The audience mindset is that they don't want to see somebody else's wife, they feel she can't be their object of desire At times it was the actress's choice to stay away for a while; be a homemaker and then perhaps be back after a gap.”

But an industry watcher maintains, “The fact that actresses hid their marriages or wed late was to stretch their careers for a few more years. Nowadays there are an abundance of fresh faces available. There are films made with an ensemble cast that have takers. Films are being made of different genres. So why would anyone cast a leading actress who is married and have a diva like demands?”

Disastrous comeback
Some actresses made a comeback after marriage and motherhood, but they did not exactly light up the marquee.

Karisma Kapoor

Karisma Kapoor's comeback flick Dangerous Ishhq proved to be a disaster and now she prefers sticking to her endorsement events. She is in no hurry to do any more films presently as her kids (Samaira and Kiaan Raj) are too young.

Kimi Katkar
Kimi Katkar

Best remembered for her Jumma Chumma De De track with Amitabh Bachchan in Hum, the sex siren disappeared from the scene after her marriage to photographer and ad-filmmaker Shantanu Shorey.

Farah was seen in films like Imaandaar, Naseeb Apna Apna, Love 86, Baap Numbari Beta Dus Numbari. After marriage to Vindoo Dara Singh which later ended in a divorce, she stayed away from films.

Tridev's Oye Oye girl married filmmaker Rajiv Rai only to disappear from the silver screen.

Sonu Walia
Sonu Walia

Best remembered for her role in Rakesh Roshan’s Khoon Bhari Maang, she went missing after marriage to hotelier Surya Prakash.

Meenakshi Seshadri
The Hero and Shahenshah actress who fetched critical acclaim in Damini vamoosed after Ghatak in 1997 when she tied the knot with US-based Harish Mysore.

Ayesha Jhulka
The Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander and Khiladi actress disappeared after marriage to builder Sameer Vashi.

Neetu Singh
She started out as a child artiste, but when she tied the knot with Rishi Kapoor, she retired from films. It’s only recently that she came back into the limelight.

Saira Banu
She gave it all up when she married the thespian Dilip Kumar.

Sonali Bendre
After she married director Goldie Behl, she decided to stay away and preferred being part of small screen reality shows.


The one film wonder Maine Pyar Kiya had no takers after marriage to Himalaya Dasani coupled with her insistence to work with him only.

Padmini Kolhapure
Padmini Kolhapure

The leading lady of the 1980s went missing after her marriage to producer Pradeep (Tutu) Sharma.

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