By Vinod Mirani
Marriage puts paid to a female stars career while some are wise enough to marry and settle down sensing the peak is over. Some of them do stage a comeback after a gap in character roles, because a known face as a character artiste playing mother or bhabhi or so on is more acceptable.
But, how about male actors? Does marriage affect their career at all?
Oddly enough, while the men may not be very keen to be paired with a married actress, heroines have no such issues. In fact, many had affairs with married co-stars and some even ended up marrying one. The gossip glossy magazines thrived on stories about such affairs even as these married actors had to spend time convincing respective wives and family that “these are gossip papers, yeh toh likhte rehte hain”.
Star wives were used to lives of luxury and being a star wife also gave them recognition. As such, incidence of divorce in a star home was not heard of.
This was a really peculiar situation for all three in the story. Because, everybody knew what really was happening but did not want to open the Pandora’s Box. Did this mean the females in the industry were home-wreckers? The truth being, some of them were. They just did not care. However, most were opportunist.
Once in the film industry, that was your only identity. You belonged here and gradually lost touch with life outside the film world. So, romances also happened within this small world. Most tried to latch on to the successful stars or, who they thought were on the verge of stardom but could not make it.
Actors like Vivek Oberoi, Harman Baweja are among the aspirants who were expected to fly high. They became examples of failed judgements by the female stars. Some female stars sort of hooked up with these budding stars.
Once upon a time when the gossip magazines hit the stands and thrived, affairs were conducted on the sly. Giving these glossies all their material. Now, it does not matter. Stars don’t try to hide their romances, in fact, they flaunt them! And, even transitions from one relationship to another is a routine matter and not kept from anybody. Wonder if those gossip magazines still survive! Affairs don’t either.
It is believed that even among office colleagues, who spend some hours working together every day, an attraction is bound to happen. Then, imagine actors, male and female, working together film after film, for days on end and at locations far away from home, often on scenic locations.
Romance or affairs were bound to happen. So, the male artistes had the best of both worlds. Wife and kids at home, and romance away from home.
The filmmakers had this thing about pairing up the hit pairs, which ended up doing many films together. This proximity was blamed for most off the screen liaisons. However, filmmakers who paired stars in romantic liaisons to sell their films often ended up in soup when such romances fell apart abruptly.
The much-in-love-till-not-so-long-ago pair did not want to come face to face, let alone work together and do romantic scenes for the camera. The producer was ruined because his film took ages to finish, when finally the stars concerned agreed to shoot. The romance being over also meant poor chemistry and the movie buffs could sense it. The very same gossip magazines who thrived on writing about affairs were also the first ones to report the breakup.
Being married did not affect a hero’s career, although some actors thought it did. Aamir Khan kept his married status a secret till the release of his debut film as a leading man, “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak”. The film did well and a lot of girls had fallen for this cute little young man only to be disappointed when the secret of his being married was out.
There were many stars who were already married when they joined films or during their career. The list is endless with Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor, Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Rajendra Kumar, Biswajeet, Joy Mukherjee, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and so on.
If at all marriage affected a career, it would be that of the romantic stars. Say, stars like Rajesh Khanna, Rishi Kapoor and Aamir Khan, who was sceptical about disclosing his married status.
Rajesh Khanna was the ultimate example of a romantic hero on Hindi screen. Not only girls, even boys were his biggest fans. While the girls adored him and sent him love letters, boys tried to imitate his hairstyle as well as dressing. His Guru Kurta dominated the fashion scene during the mid-1970s. I mean, who would or which collegian would have ever thought about wearing a kurta along with a pair of jeans?
As for Rishi Kapoor, he married in 1980 which marked an end to his mostly romantic image. Luckily for him, the multistarrer films were in vogue by then and just about every other hero played second fiddle to Amitabh Bachchan.
By the time Aamir Khan came along, romance and love did not mean the same thing as it did in the Rajesh Khanna era. What started in the Western world post World War II and gained further momentum during the late 1960s Hippie era had finally made it to India. Shifting loyalties was considered okay.
In the case of the careers of both Rajesh Khanna and Rishi Kapoor — both romantic stars whose main audience as well as fan following comprised young ones in love or dreaming — the tapering down of their carers after marrying may just be incidental.
Male actors, had the best of both the worlds. Sadly, this was the only fringe benefit they enjoyed. For all the money they earned, they never go the time to enjoy it while their popularity lasted.