When parents take stars for a ride
Actress Amisha Patel's decision to sue her parents over monetary matters has apparently been brewing for some time now.
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
Blindly entrusting her earnings to her parents, Amisha apparently woke up one morning to realize she didn't have much to show for her five years of toil.
When she questioned her father, he apparently told her it was all used up.
Families handling finances is certainly not a new phenomenon in Bollywood. Parents are always given free reign to their offspring's earnings. It's up to them how they handle the delicate threads that tie the purse strings.
Amisha isn't the first actress to take her mother to court.
Decades ago, the legendary Nutan had similarly sued her mother for mismanagement of property and earnings. The cold legal war between the daughter and mother lasted for many years until some years before her death, Nutan made peace with her mother.
Interestingly, while Amisha's close friend director Vikram Bhatt (the two admit to being closely involved) is being blamed for provoking the legal dispute, in Nutan's case too her spouse Rajneesh Behl had been blamed for "instigating" her against her mother.
Actresses always handed over their finances to one or both of their parents, even grandparents.
Vyjayanthimala's career and property was controlled completely by her grandmother until she married. But there was no acrimony about money between them and the relationship remains sacrosanct to this day.
On the other hand, Suraiya's grandmother not only controlled the coffers but also her personal life.
Unlike Vyjayanthimala and Hema Malini, who married and moved away from the matriarchal fold, Suraiya couldn't find personal happiness with Dev Anand, who was keen to marry her. She died a lonely death.
Today in this day and age of fast cars and faster morals, Kareena Kapoor continues to be mama's girl.
"If something happens to my mom I'd die. I'd do anything for my mom. She's by far the most important person in my life," says Kareena.
The presence of Shahid Kapur in Kareena's life has caused no difference in the mother-daughter equation. But men are generally seen as the bane of mother-daughter relationships.
Says a leading director: "One of the reasons why I chose to not marry an actress whom I dearly loved was her mom. Actresses aren't treated like ordinary daughters. Their lives are run in the true golden-goose tradition. They've no idea of their money matters, and don't care. At first it's the parents then it's a rich husband who takes care of all their needs."
One actress who rebelled furiously against matriarchal monopoly was Sarika.
A prominent and successful actress in the 1970s, she had been facing the arc lights from the age of five. Sarika's mother looked after everything until a point came in the actress' life when she couldn't take it any longer.
One day she walked out of the house with no belongings except the clothes she wore and the car she drove. With no home to call her own, Sarika slept in the car for many weeks and somehow made a new beginning in life.
What is it about the star kids and star parents, especially actresses, that makes them so vulnerable to monetary exploitation? Even today's savvy sirens continue to be totally dependent on parental guidance.
Urmila Matondkar's father handles all her monetary transactions. Priyanka Chopra admits she doesn't have a clue about where her money goes.
And why just girls? Even actors are happy to leave money matters to their father.
Vivek's dad Suresh Oberoi handles all his son's finances as and how he wishes, with no questions asked and no explanations given.
The star-on-the-rise Sammir Dattani puts back every penny of his earnings into his father's business.
"All the money that I got from my two films in Kannada and one in Hindi, plus every penny from all the ads and videos I've shot have gone into my father's bank account. I don't see why it should be any other way.
"My father knows what's best for me. I continue to get fixed pocket money every month like I used to when I was in school. And I like it that way."
For the guys, the going is far less tough. They needn't doubt their parents' fiscal intentions since they know accountability is just a click away. The actresses have it tougher.
"I always looked into my own money matters because I didn't want my father to suffer on my account, pun intended," laughs Raveena Tandon.
"Besides, my parents didn't ever interfere with my career, I pretty much did it all on my own."
For a majority of the girls who come to the industry holding their mother's hands, "Ask Mummy" is likely to turn into "Axe Mummy" when the zeroes on the passbook begin to look suspiciously undernourished.