Once upon a time, weddings — even in the big, bad world of Bollywood — were simple affairs. Actor met actress, fell in love and decided to get married. A date was selected, and few outside the circle of cinema ever got to know of it. Friends and relatives were invited, food was eaten and wine quaffed — and everybody had a good time.
Marriages then were made in heaven, and were not seen as a merger or an acquisition. The Aishwarya-Abhishek wedding may well be the news of the day, but the story of stars getting hitched to other stars in Bollywood is an old one. What is new is that marriages are no longer just about saat-pheras — they are seven-day affairs.
The list of star couples is a long one. From Kishore Kumar and Madhubala, Shammi Kapoor and Geeta Bali, Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu, Sunil Dutt and Nargis down to Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia, Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri and Dharmendra and Hema Malini, romance between actors and actresses has often culminated in marriage. Babita tied the knot with Randhir Kapoor, Neetu Singh with Rishi Kapoor and Rekha seemingly with quite a few people.
But the weddings did not whip up a media frenzy, though they got written about in cinema magazines. Who can forget the March 1973 wedding of 34-year-old Rajesh Khanna to 16-year-old Dimple Kapadia' The marriage got talked about — a super star, after all, was marrying a chit of a girl after dumping an old girlfriend — but no one cared where the bride’s henna came from. Then there was the Amitabh-Jaya wedding. The simple girl next door, much shorter than the Big B, then still to be called so, became the ideal bahu. Pictures of the wedding, which took place on June 3, 1973, showed a shy and demure Jaya in a traditional sari, undergoing the rituals of the ceremony with a kurta churidar-clad Amitabh.
|(From top) Who can forget the March1973 wedding of 34-year-old Rajesh Khanna to 16-year-old Dimple Kapadia; Hema Malini, Dharam had a quiet wedding; The Kapoor khandan was against the Randhir Kapoor & Babita wedding
Hema Malini and Dharmendra had a quiet wedding too. But it was Dharmendra’s second marriage, which was one reason the May 1980 wedding was not an extravagant one. His first wife and sons Sunny and Bobby hadn’t taken the news well. Another marriage that created acrimony was the one between Randhir Kapoor and Babita in 1971. The Kapoor khandan was against the wedding. It finally relented — but the marriage didn’t last. The next generation marriages — between Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, Mazhar Khan and Zeenat Aman, Sanjay Dutt and Richa Sharma, Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh — were all publicised, but not one of them turned into a national obsession.
Weddings today make page 1 news. From the menu to the guest list, to the songs in the sangeet and the wordings of the wedding card — everything has to be publicised. “News has lost all value,” says actor Manoj Bajpai. “It’s all juicy gossip,” he thunders.
Bajpai fiercely guarded his own wedding from media glare. “There were a few court people who came over and my wife and I signed the papers. Our marriage was a low-key event because both of us didn’t believe in flaunting money and having great celebrations. For us marriage is a very private thing,” he says.
Has the face of Bollywood weddings changed' Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar fails to see any major change. “I don’t think marriages are changing in any way. Marriages will always be the same. Marriage is something between two people. It’s a very private thing,” he feels. But ask him about the brouhaha around the Abhishek-Aishwarya wedding and he declines to comment.
Quite a few weddings in Bollywood in recent times have been gala events. Emraan Hashmi and Parveen Sahani’s marriage on December 14 last year was an opulent one with the sangeet ceremony being held at Mumbai’s Taj Land’s End and the mehendi at the JW Marriott hotel. Fardeen Khan’s marriage in December 2005 was not without its share of ceremony. The wedding celebrations lasted several days.
zayed Khan and Malaika’s marriage, a month earlier, was equally elaborate. Brother-in-law Hrithik danced at the sangeet party complete with choreography. Karisma Kapoor and Sanjay Kapur’s wedding was attended by Bollywood’s Who’s Who. Hrithik Roshan and Suzanne Khan’s wedding in December 2000 was a gala affair.
Aamir Khan’s second marriage to Kiran Rao, director Ashutosh Gowarikar’s assistant, was prime-time news. The publicity-shy actor chose Panchgani as the venue for his 2006 wedding.
On New Year, a lavish party was thrown at a cozy Parsi bungalow, Meherbai House, at Panchgani on the outskirts of Mumbai. The marriage ceremony was held at Aamir’s Pali Hill, Mumbai, residence. The celebrations ended with a reception in Bangalore, hosted by Kiran’s parents.
There have been some exceptions. Ajay Devgan and Kajol’s marriage in 1999 was a private affair. Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna had a simple ceremony on January 17, 2001, at Dimple’s Samudra Mahal bungalow.
Only immediate family members and very close friends were invited to the event. The couple didn’t head off for a honeymoon immediately, instead choosing to finish their professional commitments first. In short, it was one of the most boring marriages of tinsel town between two of the hottest stars then in the industry.
Not all marriages worked out. Dimple and Rajesh went their separate ways, and Amitabh and Jaya had their difficult years. Randhir and Babita separated, and Rishi and Neetu went through a bad patch. Karisma and her husband went to court. Sanjay Dutt broke up with Richa. And Saif dumped Amrita for his girlfriend. “Marriage is about commitment and personal vows. I don’t think showbiz marriages are any different,” says Bajpai.
The bottomline is that it isn’t easy to live with your life under a constant scanner. And this scanner is only getting more intrusive.
With all eyes now on Abhishek and Aishwarya, the question that’s emerging is will the marriage succeed' It’s all in the stars.