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Powerful Women Who’ve Changed The Way Bollywood Looks At Married Actresses

It’s been a year and we have already had four of Bollywood’s leading ladies get married at the peak of their careers; two even returning back to work soon after. Yes, we are talking about Anushka Sharma, Sonam Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and now Priyanka Chopra.

Personal = Professional = Normal

Anushka, soon after getting married to Virat, was back on the sets shooting Sui Dhaaga and Zero, and promoting her home production Pari. Likewise, Sonam, a week before her wedding, unveiled the trailer of Veere Di Wedding, and a week later was seen promoting the film, with her hennaed hands and husband Anand coming on various occasions to watch his wife promote the film.

Following suit is Priyanka Chopra, who has been fulfilling various commitments before her big day, and has many lined up post her December wedding to Nick Jonas.

The ladies who didn’t shy away from being caught in the lens by eager paps and fans as they were photographed around town with their beaus, each took to publicly announcing their weddings and taking to their social media platforms, proclaiming their new status.

Once Upon A Time..

This is a far cry from the days many a talented actress gave up their careers post marriage. A few rare exceptions in the 60’s being Nutan, who, post her marriage in 1959 continued with her film career, and gave some of her biggest hits and critically acclaimed performances – be it Sujata and Bandini or Milan, to name a few; and Sharmila Tagore, whose marriage to Tiger Pataudi was no road block to her career.

But the 70’s and 80’s saw a shift. In mid 70’s, when a 16-year-old Dimple Kapadia, who became the pulse of the nation with Bobby, was swept off her feet by the then superstar, Rajesh Khanna. She bid adieu to a film career even before it could take off. Then there was Jaya Bhaduri, who, at the peak of the career, married the then rising star Amitabh Bachchan. After memorable performances in Abhimaan, Chupke Chupke and Sholay, she took nearly a three-decade-long career break from films.

Neetu Singh, the vivacious leading lady who began as a child star, who was the most sought after leading lady, married boyfriend Rishi Kapoor at 21; her film career shelved without the blink of an eye. Yes, it was unheard of ‘Kapoor’ women to work in films and her reasons being, she had been a child star working in and out of studios for years, it was curtain call post marriage, since she wanted to devote time to family.

Then there were those who chose to marry men from outside the fraternity, read NRIs. Starting their new life across the seven seas – from Rajshri in the 60’s to Meenakshi Sheshadri and Madhuri Dixit, who began their new lives far away from the shutter bugs amongst people unaware of their fame and popularity.

They Came, They Saw, They Dismissed

Women in showbiz have had their fair share of struggle. Films were never regarded as the suitable career choice for girls. Many leading ladies began their stint as child stars – from Madhubala to Meena Kumari, films were a medium to earn bread for their extended families; or Neetu Singh to Sridevi, who were driven by ambitious mothers, and traded the playground for a childhood in the studios.

And like most women, they too chose hearth and home over endless shifts at the studios, and the trend continued in the 90’s – from Juhi Chawla to Karisma Kapoor and Kajol, who called it a wrap soon after marriage, making comebacks years later.

Why was it deemed, however, that a married actress could not have a successful career post marriage? Well, this should not come as a surprise, given the psyche of the male dominated industry, that regarded its heroines as objects of desire. ‘Arre who wants to see a married woman romance another guy?’ One producer or director would say, irrespective of whether the hero was married, because that, of course, is of no concern. He is a man, after all.

Or ‘she will get pregnant and this would create a locha’. Remember the hullabaloo post Aishwarya’s pregnancy no sooner had she announced her role in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Heroine at Cannes? The role was later given to Kareena Kapoor, but a preganancy clause wound its way into contracts. Let’s not forget, however, that many a pregnant actress – from Nutan to Jaya Bachchan to Hema Malini – have worked through their pregnancies.

A Woman’s World, After All

The tide, however, seems to have turned. The last year has only reaffirmed that it’s the women who are on top, irrespective of their relationship status, ‘married’, ‘single’ or ‘complicated’!

As Kareena Kapoor Khan – who, post the birth of son Taimur, plunged into Veere Di Wedding, showing off her svelte self and has signed a couple more films – says, “What nonsense? It’s just a normal part of life, why should marriage or being a mom affect my work or commitment?”.

Strong, independent and enterprising – these leading ladies live life on their own terms. Film careers apart, many have branched into film production, as well as other business enterprises. As on one hand, they treat you to lovey-dovey selfies with their husbands, on the other – they are not scared to speak about socio-political issues.

Well, all we can say is, may your tribe grow!

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