The clothes they wear, the shoes their feet adorn, the men they’re dating and their marriage plans. These are the four most important things every actress is asked time and again. The only thing that changes are the reporters.
Bollywood’s leading ladies have been reduced to nothing, thanks to these overused, repeated and stereotypical questions. Every interview of a Bollywood actress ends with an inevitable and unwanted investigation about their future plans (read “aap shaadi kab kar rahi hai?“). Even in 2016.
So many of our new-age actresses are going global while their male counterparts are still struggling to find their place in the International scenario. Yet, we fail to highlight their victories and instead dwell on their shortcomings, in finding an appropriate groom or for having an ‘uncertain’ future.
Take for instance, this DNA interview, where the interviewer asks Anushka 4 questions, all pertaining to just two things – marriage and Virat Kohli.
The very first question is about Virat and her getting back together.
Where a non-actress woman would have lost her cool and blasted the reporter for snooping and invasion of privacy, Anushka calmly replied, “I have nothing to say about it. I don’t want to talk about my personal life. I feel the Indian media doesn’t have the maturity to deal with it. They can’t understand when we are open about our relationships.”
First off, let’s agree with Anushka and accept that the Indian media does not have the stomach to digest the fact that an actress can, like every normal girl, date and have boyfriends. Imagine if Taylor Swift was a singer in India, her personal life would have been dissected as a detailed study in ‘How not to be a girl’ by every Tom, Dick and Harry in the media.
A few days ago, even Alia Bhatt opened up about how she does not prefer to talk about who she’s dating because everything turns into a gossip. Because as soon as that happens, a woman and particularly an actress, stops being an individual and suddenly turns into just somebody’s girlfriend. In so many popular news headlines, Alia Bhatt was Sidharth Malhotra’s girlfriend and not Alia Bhatt who did a great job in Highway and Udta Punjab. Her identity, her work, her movies everything goes for a toss because of her personal life.
Talking about turning every little thing into a gossip, this interviewer keeps prodding Anushka about how she’s a young and ‘eligible’ girl and how people and parents will ask about her plans to get married. If anyone else was in her place, she would have given this interviewer a piece of her mind, but Anushka being Anushka, replied:
“Not at all! Nobody would dare ask my family about my marriage. My parents are very progressive, though they come from a small town. It’s all in our minds. I don’t understand this fascination and obsession with people’s marriages.”
I have never quite understood who these ‘people’ are who have nothing better to do than keeping track of who’s marrying whom, when and why. And quite honestly, our fascination with marriage is a disease that sees no imminent cure. Marriage is not a step forward after a job, or becoming ‘eligible’, it’s more than just a series of rites and rituals.
And why is that no actor, apart from Salman Khan for obvious reasons, is ever pestered about marriage like Bollywood’s actresses are? Why is it that none of the male actors ever get asked about their marriage plans, ever? Or if they’ll continue acting after marriage? Or if they want to have kids and how many? This is your stereotypical male privilege in its place and working just like it should.
Even after making it clear that she does not want to talk about marriage or Virat, she is nudged, pushed and probed about it again.
“A marriage is not a joke. It’s not like ‘Oh shaadi hai toh karle!’ You have to be mentally ready to spend your life with another person.”
Why are we so obsessed with an actor’s personal life? How the hell would an actor’s marriage benefit the general public? Apart from being virtual spectators to someone else’s special moment, we have zero role to play in their lives. And yet here we are, asking questions, making judgments and just being class 1 a-holes.
If you thought the ordeal was over for Anushka, here’s the last question she was asked, “What would your reaction be if you were offered a film with Virat? “
For pete’s sake, the lady has been saying that she does not want to answer questions related to him or her marriage. How difficult is it to understand someone’s refusal?
It’s 2016 and we’re still stuck in an epoch where marriage defines a woman’s life. We’re so stuck still, that we recognise the women in our society by works of their husbands/boyfriends. We’re still stuck in a time where, after reaching an age you abso-fucking-lutely have to get married, because after that, no one would want you.
We need to leave our celebrities alone. Yes, they are public figures, but that does not take away from them the right to have a private one. Their personal life is not of our concern.
Read the full interview here.