The other day I was talking to a married high-profile director and I casually mentioned we have not had a major star in an extra-marital relationship for a long time.
He thought over that one for a minute and said, “It’s not that they are not having affairs and flings. It’s just that no one is writing about them. The last time the Superstar (he names a big one) had a long-lasting relationship with Superstar Actress (now happily married to someone else) every journalist who wrote openly about the relationship was sacked. The Superstar made sure of that. It’s not that the A-listers are not straying. But no one is saying.”
My filmmaker-source is right. A major A-list superstar known for his intense dedication for every part he plays, on and off screen, recently had a torrid affair with one of his leading ladies far younger than him, right under his enlightened wife’s eyes. In public he continues to be a completely devoted husband and father.
In fact big-name photographers are told to “click me when I am with wife and child”. A major paparazzi photographer confirms this. “The A-list superstars like their pictures with wife and kids to go out when they go out to restaurants or airports. When we click them with co-stars they are not happy.”
Family-album portraits of blissful marriage are now everywhere. Devoted Husband (DH) is the magic mantra of online popularity. Recently pictures of Shah Rukh Khan holding up his wife’s trailing gown at a fashion event went viral with comments on what a devoted husband he is.
This was a Magical Marital Moment in an industry notorious for its philandering husbands and unseeing wives (blinded by the sparkle of diamonds that the husband buys them). One superstar known for his clean patriotic public image is notorious for his short-lived and prolonged flings. It’s been going on for years. The intelligent wife is fully aware of her husband’s indiscretions. They don’t matter to her, as long as she gets what she wants. In public he shows an impossble amount of devotion. Holding hands, putting a protective arm at crowded places, frequent holidays with kids and wife to exotic places….
Karan Johar had once jokingly told me, “The more holidays that a star takes his wife on, the more he has to hide and feel guilty about.”
Apropos nothing, the star who takes his wife on the most holidays is Saif Ali Khan.
Abhishek Bachchan and Ranveer Singh (the two Bollwood A-list husbands who are truly devoted and have never had flings/ affairs since marriage) do such things (help wifey out in public) all the time. It comes naturally to them. On others, it looks forced and artificial.
I remember once mentioning to Abhishek how devoted he is to his wife in public. “You mean like holding the door, or holding the purse? I would do that for my mother also. It’s not something I’ve to work towards as an image-building exercise.”
Nowadays a lot of the spousal affection being seen in public spaces seems more for effect, than out of genuine companionship. Every time Shahid Kapoor and his wife go out together the cameras are sure to follow them. Shahid’s wife is not in any way connected to cinema. Yet she is a star on social media platforms, thanks to her constant presence by her husband’s side.
There was a time when we didn’t even know what Dev Anand, Raj Kumar, Dharmendra and Rajendra Kumar’s wives looked like. The pendulum has swung the other way. Let alone the wife, even a star’s maidservant and children’s nanny are easily recognizable faces.