Is The Box Office No Longer Affected By Marital Status of Leading Ladies?
As the news of Neha Dhupia’s marriage reaches our ears while we still recover from Sonam Kapoor’s wedding revelry we recall how there was a time when tying the knot meant the end of a film career for female actors. However, in the last decade or so, most leading ladies like Kareena Kapoor Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Vidya Balan and Anushka Sharma have embraced holy matrimony without bidding adieu to their A-list paycheques. So has the Indian audience and film industry finally come around to not dropping married female actors like a hot potato?
Earlier, marriage was considered to be the ultimate undoing of a female actor’s Bollywood career.
Many actors allegedly got married in secrecy or waited for their career to lose its sheen before settling down. Most of them would either fade into oblivion to raise children, or settle down to doing supporting roles of bhabhi, sister, aunt or even mother.
The marital status of the male actors have never affected the box office numbers. Perhaps it has something to do with objectification of women in Indian society and films. Earlier, men used to find it easy to see an unmarried actor via a sexualised gaze. However, she would be of no “use” to them if she was another man’s missus. As a result of which her popularity would dive down considerably after marriage. Also in many cases, insecure husbands made reigning superstars give up on their blooming careers, because they could not bear the sight of their wives romancing other men.
Sexism, objectification, insecurity, gender discrimination…the reasons maybe many, but the result was always the same. A female actor was no longer considered worthy of playing a lead once she tied the knot.
Gradual change in cinema and society
Somewhere between Nargis, Jaya Bachchan, Hema Malini, Neetu Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Vidya Balan, our cinema and society learned to look beyond the marital status of female actors.
Not only are married women of Bollywood today in a position to negotiate bigger paycheques, they now enjoy customized roles. Years ago we could not imagine a female actor carrying a film like Tumhari Sulu solely on her shoulders. Or a young A-list actor tying the knot just weeks ahead of a major release. This change is both refreshing and empowering. But more than that it is telling of how far we have come from times when marriage was akin to a death sentence.
Marriage today is a mere personal event. It does not affect their professional commitments or career goals. Our changing mentality has benefited many actors from eighties and nineties as well. Actors like Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit found love and acceptance from the audience when they made a come back on the silver screen after a hiatus due to matrimony.
Kapoor and Dhupia can decide to take this leap so enthusiastically because they know their careers will not be affected by their personal decision. They know that their marital status does not influence the box office numbers. They can pick up from where they left, like it’s not a big deal. Which it indeed isn’t.
Photo Credit :Neha Dhupia /Twitter
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own