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Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma, Kareena Kapoor Khan – Actresses who got married at the peak of their careers!

Columnist, Critic and Author Bharathi S Pradhan writes about Bollywood actresses who got married at the peak of their careers.



After firming up her place in the top bracket with resounding heroine-oriented successes like Kahaani and The Dirty Picture, when Vidya Balan found the ideal partner in the dapper Siddharth Roy Kapur, and made it known that they were going to walk down the aisle, a newspaper story went, ‘Tsk, tsk’. The news report mourned the early winding up of a brilliant career. That was the time one realised just how irrelevant media minds had become, and how much more progressive the film industry itself was.

One is fairly certain that it occurred to neither Vidya nor Siddharth, or to her producers, to even consider that she’d bid adieu to her work after marriage. Those outdated times when Neetu Singh longed to go to the market, like Jaya Bhaduri (Bachchan) did after marriage to her co-star, or Mumtaz had to send a notice to her producers asking them to wind up her work because she was getting married, are truly behind us.

Siddharth Roy Kapur and Vidya Balan

At one time, it was actually a sign of a healthy marriage if an actress married a guy who didn’t want her salary. Sunil Dutt often boasted that when he and Nargis were getting married, somebody remarked, ab do-do kamaayi hogi ghar mein (there’ll be two salaries coming home from now on). It stirred the man in him to such an extent that he stood tall and ruled, ‘She won’t be working henceforth.’ It’s a story he himself told me more than once. Ditto for a Shatrughan Sinha, who thought it was a sign of his worth and her compliance, when Punam retired as an actress as soon as she turned Mrs Sinha from Miss Chandiramani.

Today, when Anushka Sharma gets married to Virat Kohli when she’s on a strong wicket, and she does it in the full glare of flashbulbs, it doesn’t signal that she’s ready to go back to the pavilion and be a spectator. It’s not even up for discussion. It’s as absurd as expecting the Captain to hang up his pads because he’s now a married man.

Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli

In recent times, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor Khan did blaze a trail by making it clear that marriage and motherhood did not mean retirement for an actress. Funnily, for all her feistiness, Saif’s first wife Amrita Singh, nipped her career to be a star-wife and mother, returning with a TV serial only when the curtains came down on her marriage. It was bowing to the most regressive thought that once ruled the film world – that marriage spelt finis to an actress’ career, and a return to films meant that her marriage was finished!

Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan

Strange, because Saif’s mother Sharmila Tagore was the rare exception in her time, who married a man as famous as her (or even more), raised three children, hid neither Begumhood nor motherhood, and stayed right at the top of the glamour world.

There used to be an unwritten but religiously followed rule that even if an actress got into a serious romantic involvement, especially with an actor, she would suddenly go all coy, crunch up her neckline like a nun, and refuse to do intimate scenes. It is hats off to Sharmila that she was the sole exception who did what her work demanded, sometimes even more, like posing in a bikini for a magazine cover. And nothing she did on screen or off, put her marriage to Pataudi on the rocks.

However, for a very long time, the ‘M’ word continued to haunt actresses who’d found the right man to spend their lives with. Juhi Chawla, as is famously known, teared up over a lavish reception that her husband Jay Mehta’s family had organised to announce their marriage. When her mother-in-law saw how miserable she was, she took the most supportive step of cancelling the reception, and letting Juhi keep her marriage under wraps for as long as she wanted to. It was only after Juhi saw actresses like Kajol get married openly, that she came around to accepting that her marital status had little to do with her work as an actress.

But actresses were not the only ones who sweated over the work-or-marriage conundrum. Govinda hid his marriage to Sunita until his daughter’s first birthday, when he came out and aired his family at a huge bash he threw at The Leela. Until he was confident that it wouldn’t affect his career as a hero, Govinda preferred to keep it hush-hush.

Even a dyed-in-the-wool actor like Rishi Kapoor took a long while to say ‘I do’ as he chewed his nails over the ‘Will it affect my charisma as a romantic hero?’ question. After marriage, when he had a string of flops, he went into a deep depression, worried sick that his marriage had finished him. It was only on hindsight that Rishi realised films like Deedar-e-Yaar would have flopped anyway.

Fortunately, better sense prevails today. Like Vidya Balan, Priyanka Chopra’s magical marriage isn’t going to change the kind of roles that go to a senior actress like her. So bring on the celebrations.

The audience doesn’t really care. It is actors (of both genders) and their spouses who have to emit the right message of confidence, like Sharmila did in her heyday. Anushka did that a year ago, and she’s going strong as an actress.

Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone

While a girl like Anushka got it right by getting married officially at the peak of her career, and didn’t let it make a whit’s difference to her work, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh went a step further than all the others. They had a big, warm and lavish bash for all their media friends too, where they chatted and joked around and posed for pictures with everybody.

When I congratulated Deepika on stage and commented that it was wonderful they were getting married in such a grand and unabashed manner, she said with a huge, happy smile, “We don’t know any other way.”

You’re right, Deepika. There is no other way.

– Bharathi S Pradhan (Columnist, Critic & Author)