In a Mumbai paparazzi’s folder there are three things that have found a permanent place – Bandra celebrities in spandex coming out of gyms, the over-hyped airport looks and of course, Taimur Ali Khan. But in case of a celebrity wedding, everything else is abandoned, even baby Taimur, to take you inside the big fat Bollywood wedding. Right from which designer the bride and the groom are wearing to the kathal biryani that is served to the guests, there is an information overload whether you care for it or not. It happened when Anushka Sharma got married to Virat Kohli and it’s happening now with Sonam Kapoor’s wedding.
But this kind of open sharing of information was not always possible. The world of glamour likes to maintain a facade of mystery. There was a time when actresses getting married at the peak of their career would be considered a professional suicide.
Some of the older actresses, have however, pushed boundaries. Madhubala continued working in movies post her marriage. She did some of her career best movies after marriage such as Half Ticket, Boy friend, Jhumroo, Sharabi.
Waheeda Rehman continued working in movies after marriage in movies like Kabhie Kabhie, Trishul, Adalat, but she was not the lead.
Zeenat Aman got married to Sanjay Khan in 1978, and it was after that she worked in movies like Qurbani, Laawaris, Insaaf Ka Tarazu etc. These movies were a game-changer for her.
Jaya Bhadhuri filmography is mighty impressive, she worked in movies like Abhimaan, Mili, Naya Din Nayi Raat, Mili, Chupke Chupke, Sholay and Silsila, all post marriage. She took a long sabbatical after the birth of her daughter.
Sharmila Tagore’s marriage didn’t prevent her from working in classics like Safar, Daag, Amar Prem, Aa Gale Lag Ja, Mausam, Chupke Chupke.
Hema Malini worked in an array of movies post her marriage – The Burning Train, Do Aur Do Paanch, Razia Sultan, Dard, Kranti, Naseeb, Satte Pe Satta, Desh Premi.
The next generation of actresses weren’t so lucky. Be it Madhuri Dixit or Juhi Chawla or Sridevi, Manisha Koirala, Karisma Kapoor, Raveena Tandon, Shilpa Shetty, who married past their prime and had to give up their acting careers temporarily. There is hardly any notable work except for Madhuri Dixit who did Devdas while she was married and pregnant. Sridevi, too returned to the silver screen after two decades. Nevertheless, she gave power-packed and memorable performances in English Vinglish and Mom. Juhi Chawla, Raveena Tandom and Shilpa Shetty have all but disappeared from the industry or have turned lifestyle influencers. Manisha Koirala, after a failed marriage and surviving cancer, has returned to the big screen in Sanju. She will the play the role of the iconic Nargis Dutt on celluloid. National Award winning actress Karisma Kapoor is yet to find a break. There are rumours that she may sign a film.
The late 90s and the 2000s proved to be an era of the rise of the male superstar and pandering to the male gaze. Actresses who enjoyed meaty roles in films were used as props in films. The films centered around the lives of the male stars and their roles took up almost 90 percent of the screen time. Actresses were only required for romantic scenes and songs. They were more in the news for their personal lives than the work they were doing.
The misogyny and sexism was so ingrained that the average man desired the virginal image of the actress on-screen. The married actress was no longer desired on the big screen. Some even said that marriage became a respite for these actresses who were unable to find work and hence chose to retire. Motherhood meant end of acting and modelling careers. However, looking at Padma Laxmi and Malaika Arora, one can kiss that stereotype goodbye as well.
Vidya Balan has not only shattered body stereotypes, but has proved that films with a central woman character can make money at the box office. She has shown that she is not ready compromise on talent just to be visible next to a male superstar.
““I will work in any film if the script is good, not because a superstar is associated with it. Banners and superstars [associated with the film] are peripheral benefits,” she had once said.
The current lot of actresses have fearlessly broken and shattered these stereotypes. Anushka Sharma tied the knot with her boyfriend and cricketer, Virat Kohli, right at the prime of her career.
Kareena Kapoor, fielding questions about marriage and motherhood, had said, “Taimur is going to grow up with a working mom. My sister, his masi is also a working woman. He has my mother to look up to, my mother-in-law who is still working woman. So, he is going to grow up in that atmosphere and learn to respect women in that sense. He also has a wonderful nanny, again another working woman who looks after him so he will be growing up seeing the power of women from as early as seven months old.”
Sonam, who is also tying the knot with boyfriend Anand Ahuja, is at the peak of her career and she too, has stellar releases lined up. Just like Anushka, Sonam, too is an entrepreneur who has her own label and a production house. Anushka and Sonam have both, shattered several myths together by marrying early and at the peak of their careers.
Not just Bollywood, actresses in Hollywood too have been at the receiving end for marrying early or choosing to be mothers. Julia Roberts, played the role of a grandmother in Mothers And Daughters, while her male contemporaries such as Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and George Clooney are still chasing skirts and riding hi-tech automobiles on the big screen.
Manisha Koirala has submitted to playing the role of Ranbir Kapoor’s mother, while Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan’s female leads are getting younger by the day.
The recently released trailer of Sonam Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor’s Veere Di Wedding has opened up a lot of conversations, where the women in the film are seen drinking, having casual sex, using expletives and having second thoughts about marriage and motherhood. This film will also mark the comeback of Kareena Kapoor back in films after her pregnancy break.
It is up to actresses like Sonam, Anushka and Vidya Balan to break the proverbial glass ceiling and refuse to answer insipid questions like working post marriage/motherhood, balancing professional and family life.
“There is very long way before it happens (changing of mindsets). People like Kareena (Kapoor Khan) are setting an example. She got married and then she was on the sets and after having a baby she was on the sets. Shahid Kapoor got married, did anyone ask whether he will work or not? Nobody will ask this question to a man,” Sonam had said during the launch of Veere Di Wedding trailer.
More power to the bride. Here are snapshots from #SonamKiShaadi:
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