It beats me no end at how these 40 and 50 something heroes in Bollywood call off their marriage of two decades or more nonchalantly. And before the news can sink in, their new wife or girlfriend is already sporting a baby bump.
Almost invariably, the new woman is a good 10-15 years younger than our hero. Just validates the face that our leading men don’t age, both in reel life and real life.
The latest to join the bandwagon is Arjun Ramphal who recently announced the impending arrival of his baby with South African girlfriend Gabriella Demetriades. Bollywood certainly has set a record of sorts – Farhan Akhtar broke his marriage to Adhuna Akhtar to be with Shibani Dandekar, Arbaaz Khan parted ways with Malaika Arora to be with Georgia Adriani, Saif Ali Khan called off his marriage to Amrita Singh and married Kareena Kapoor, Amir Khan separated from his first love Reena and married Kiran Rao, our Greek God, Hrithik Roshan and childhood love Suzanne Khan also got divorced over his alleged extra-marital affair… of course there are many more names in the list.
There’s one thing that bothers me about all these divorces and affairs. The guy marries the woman when he is a nobody and the moment he becomes a celebrity, he calls off the marriage and then glosses over it on social media, “The 20 most beautiful years of my life… we will always be friends…some things are not mean to be…she’s given me two beautiful children and all that crap. I mean, excuse me, she married you for love, gave up her career, bore children, happily remained away from limelight so that you could focus on your career. And when you get your place in front of the camera, the past goes ‘Poof!’ Suddenly you realise you have differences with your wife. How lame. No one would even give Saif Ali Khan a second look when Amrita Singh married him and she was at the peak of her career at that time. Farhan Akhtar’s only claim to fame was his illustrious dad Javed Akhtar (who, by the way also has a past). Meanwhile, Adhuna was a celebrity hairdresser in her own right while Farhan became visible only after Rock On! Amir Khan was in love with his wife Reena till Lagaan happened and he came across Kiran Rao, who knew about Arjun Ramphal the actor till Om Shanti Om happened? As for Arbaz Khan, who would have known him were it not for his famed father Salim and his wife Malaika of the “Chaiyan Chaiyan” fame.
Bollywood marriages now-a-days end with Instagram and Facebook posts and a few media bytes. Couples (read men) claim their right to privacy and dignity. All very well but why is everything lop-sided, tilted in favour of the guys? At the cost of sounding judgemental, after all, what is the woman left with? An awkward girth after childbirths? A career that never saw culmination? Financial dependence. Who accounts for those 20 odd years of invisibility? What is the compensation that can be worked out for those prime years of life? The guy transforms from a skinny fella into a macho man and prances around trees with women half his age, while the wife is relegated to playing character and mother roles. How fair is that? Take any case, it is like a pattern (with the exception of Malaika Arora’s divorce).
Of course, such breakups are not a new phenomenon in Bollywood. There was Randhir Kapoor-Babita, Javed Akhtar-Honey Irani, Rajesh Khanna-Dimple Kapadia, Boney Kapoor-Mona Shourie, the Sanjay Khan-Zareen-Zeenat Aman triangle and much before that the legendary story of Raj Kapoor and Nargis. A lot of eyebrows were raised in those years but compared to today, those breakups and affairs appear very dignified. Now they are like a veritable virus.
Even as I am writing this, a thought comes to my mind, “Is this my middle-class mentality speaking?” But then tinsel-town people claim to be normal human beings like us. And if that be the case, what matters to us surely must matter to them too.