Entertainment News

In Bollywood’s world of hushed separations, noisy divorces are on the rise

Behold the new star wife: she is no more ‘Mrs So-and-so’ but willing to walk out when things get really ugly.

The dust had barely settled on Hrithik Roshan and Sussanne Khan’s divorce when along came a tornado called Kangana Ranaut and blew it sky-high again.

Even as the former lovers traded insults and legal notices, there were reports that Khan had confronted Roshan about his fondness for his co-star, and that this affair could have been one of the reasons she decided to end the marriage.

That the divorce was her decision was evident from Roshan’s press statement: “Sussanne has decided to separate from me and end our 17-year relationship. This is a very trying time for the entire family.”

Sussanne Khan is not the first star wife to have walked out of a relationship, and from the looks of it, she will not be the last. In a world in which women have for the longest time looked the other way while their husbands strayed, the current development of star wives opting out of dysfunctional marriages is a sign of some serious change.

After all, who remembers the name of the mother of Sunny and Bobby Deol, who was banished into the shadows after her husband and movie star Dharmendra converted to Islam and married the nation’s sweetheart, Hema Malini? The spunky and ambitious Babita walked out of the Kapoor home with her daughters Karisma and Kareena more than three decades ago, but held on to her title of Mrs Randhir Kapoor. The biggest wedding of the 1970s, between Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia, was over by 1983, but during his flirtation with politics and battle with cancer and until his death, Kapadia chose to remain “married.”

At the time of separating from the fading star, Kapadia had said, “The life and happiness in our house came to an end the day I and Rajesh got married.” Years later, she justified her decision to be in touch with him, saying, “He is the father of my children and a very integral part of my life. He can never be unimportant.”

The title, it seemed, and the institution, were more important than the relationship.

An unlikely trendsetter

But something changed when Reena Dutta and Aamir Khan ended their 14-year marriage in 2002. Khan had chosen not to reveal his marital status at the time of his breakthrough movie Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak in 1988 – even though Dutta made an appearance in the pop anthem “Papa Kehte Hain” in the film.

Dutta, who was decidedly low-profile even at the peak of Khan’s career, had much to lose with a divorce. The former travel agency employee could have held on to the title, leaving her husband free to pursue or marry other women. Since his religion allows polygamy, she could not have stopped him. But Dutta chose a graceful exit, closure and a divorce that was unheard of in the film industry at that time.

Sarika and Kamal Haasan filed for divorce after 14 years of marriage the same year. The good-looking and unconventional star couple had lived in for years and had decided to get married only after their first child, Shruti, was born in 1986. Sarika has often spoken about the hardships she faced as a single mother of two, while it was rumoured that Haasan’s fondness for his much-younger female co-star was the last nail in the coffin.

Of late, there seem to be more Sarikas and Reena Duttas who are not afraid of the D word. Preety Ali annulled her decade-long marriage to filmmaker Imtiaz Ali in 2012, Kalki Koechlin ended her marriage to director Anurag Kashyap in 2015, and most recently, Adhuna Akhtar split with Farhan Akhtar. Whenever news of an impending divorce hits the headlines, the grapevine goes into an overdrive trying to find the trigger. Such splits are mostly blamed on the philandering ways of the men. “For the sake of our children” has been the refrain of both parties, while insiders insist that the husbands have much more to lose if the wives decide to talk.

Trophy wives no more

Also common to these women is that most of them are independent professionals and capable of standing on their stilletoed feet.

Koechlin has always had a mind and career of her own. Adhuna Akhtar is a star in her domain (hair styling) and a successful entrepreneur. Susanne Khan, despite her name being linked with actor Arjun Rampal and the gossip about a demand for Rs 300 crores in alimony, also runs an interior decoration business.

Karisma Kapoor, who is in the thick of a messy divorce, has been working hard at maximising her stardom through endorsements. Even Chitrangda Singh, who failed to make good the early gains of her fantastic debut in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2005), chose to swap her cushy South Delhi life and the creature comforts that flowed to her as the wife of star golfer Jyoti Singh Randhawa for a life of struggle in the film industry.

And finally there is Malaika Arora, whose 18-year-old marriage to Arbaaz Khan on rumoured grounds of incompatibility and incompetence (Khan’s career has gone nowhere despite the intermittent leg-up from his famous brother Salman) has come undone. The couple has confirmed their separation. Arora has had the courage to walk out of a family whose patriarch, Salim Khan, has lived with two wives for decades and evidently kept everybody happy with the arrangement.

A few years ago, a multi-faceted female star, who was allegedly in a relationship with a married A-lister, had lashed out against star wives, who she described as insecure about the younger and more successful women in their husbands’ lives. “They will always be known as Mrs so-and-so,” she had lashed out, taking pot-shots at an existence that centered on Botox parties, Birkins, spa holidays and expensive anniversary gifts.

A lot has happened since then. The star wife who was one of the Mrs so-and-so gang has gone on to reinvent herself as a fashion brand, and her friends cannot be described as trophy wives or showpieces on the red carpet anymore. These women know where and how the story should end.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

It’s the new year and it’s already time to plan your next holiday

Here are some great destinations for you to consider.

Vacation planning can get serious and strategic. Some people swear by the save and splurge approach that allows for one mini getaway and one dream holiday in a year. Others use the solo to family tactic and distribute their budget across solo trips, couple getaways and family holidays. Regardless of what strategy you implement to plan your trip, the holiday list is a handy tool for eager travellers. After having extensively studied the 2018 holiday list, here’s what we recommend:

March: 10 days of literature, art and culture in Toronto

For those you have pledged to read more or have more artistic experiences in 2018, Toronto offers the Biblio-Mat, the world’s first randomising vending machine for old books. You can find the Biblio-Mat, paper artefacts, rare books and more at The Monkey’s Paw, an antiquarian bookseller. If you can tear yourself away from this eclectic bookstore, head over to The Public Library in Toronto for the Merril Collection of over 72000 items of science fiction, fantasy magic realism and graphic novels. With your bag full of books, grab a coffee at Room 2046 – a café cum store cum studio that celebrates all things whimsical and creative. Next, experience art while cycling across the 80km Pan Am Path. Built for walking, running, cycling and wheeling, the Pan Am Path is a recreational pathway that offers a green, scenic and river views along with art projects sprinkled throughout the route. You can opt for a guided tour of the path or wander aimlessly for serendipitous discoveries.

Nothing beats camping to ruminate over all those new ideas collected over the past few days. Make way to Killarney Provincial Park for 2-3 days for some quiet time amongst lakes and hills. You can grab a canoe, go hiking or get back to nature, but don’t forget to bring a tent.

If you use the long-weekend of 2nd March to extend your trip, you get to experience the Toronto Light Festival as a dazzling bonus.

June: 10 days of culinary treats, happy feet and a million laughs in Chicago

Famous for creating the deep-dish pizza and improv comedy, Chicago promises to banish that mid-year lull. Get tickets for The Second City’s Legendary Laughs at The UP-Comedy Club - the company that gave us the legendary Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Key & Peele. All that laughter can sure work up an appetite, one that can be satiated with Lou Malnati’s classic deep-dish pizza. For dessert, head over to the Ferrara Original Bakery for mouth-watering treats.

Chicago in June is pleasant and warm enough to explore the outdoors and what better way to soak in the sunshine, than by having a picnic at the Maggie Daley Park. Picnic groves, wall climbing, mini golf, roller blading – the park offers a plethora of activities for individuals as well as families.

If you use the long weekend of 15th June, you can extend your trip to go for Country LakeShake – Chicago’s country music festival featuring Blake Shelton and Dierks Bentley.

August: 7 days in London for Europe’s biggest street festival

Since 1964, the Notting Hill Carnival has been celebrating London’s Caribbean communities with dancing, masquerade and music ranging from reggae to salsa. Watch London burst into colours and sparkle at the Notting Hill Carnival. Home to Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens Museum, London is best experienced by wandering through its tiny streets. Chance encounters with bookstores such as Foyles and Housemans, soaking in historic sights while enjoying breakfast at Arthur’s Café or Blackbird Bakery, rummaging the stalls at Broadway market or Camden Market – you can do so much in London while doing nothing at all.

The Museum of Brand, Packaging and Advertising can send you reminiscing about those old ads, while the Clowns Gallery Museum can give you an insight in clown-culture. If you’d rather not roam aimlessly, book a street-art tour run by Alternative London or a Jack the Ripper Tour.

October: 10 days of an out-of-body experience in Vegas

About 16 km south of the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway in Henderson, lies a visual spectacle. Seven Magic Mountains, an art installation by Ugo Rondinone, stands far away from the wild vibe that people expect in Las Vegas and instead offers a sense of wonder. Imagine seven pillars of huge, neon boulders, stacked up against one another stretched towards the sky. There’s a lot more where that came from, in Las Vegas. Captivating colour at the permanent James Turrell exhibit in Louis Vuitton, outdoor adventures at the Bootleg Canyon and vintage shopping at Patina Décor offer experiences that are not usually associated with Vegas. For that quintessential Vegas show, go for Shannon McBeath: Absinthe for some circus-style entertainment. If you put the holiday list to use, you can make it for the risefestival – think thousands of lanterns floating in the sky, right above you.

It’s time to get on with the vacation planning for the new year. So, pin up the holiday list, look up deals on hotels and flights and start booking. Save money by taking advantage of the British Airways Holiday Sale. With up to 25% off on flight, the offer is available to book until 31st January 2018 for travel up to 31st December in economy and premium economy and up to 31st August for business class. For great fares to great destinations, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of British Airways and not by the Scroll editorial team.