The Bollywood Relationship – Designer Handbags, Public Sightings et al

Posted on May 20, 2010 in Media and Culture

Maria Thomas:

India boasts of an impressive film industry and it is this industry that is responsible for many changes that are occurring in our country today. Besides the obvious economic impact, Bollywood is also providing the average Indian with enough gossip fodder to keep tongues wagging for years on end. Everything from casting couch scandals, assaults and abuse and even the odd homosexual rumor is included in several shows entirely devoted to exploiting the Indian obsession with glitz and glamour. However, the most interesting facet of our film industry is the number of celebrity couples it has swooned over; interest in the lives of ‘fascinating’ pairs like John-Bipasha and Arjun-Mehr has reached unforeseen peaks. Indeed, the celebrity relationship is a whole new breed of relationship that is in a class of its own.

It is impossible to get through a Bollywood magazine without coming across at least a handful of references to it-couples of the season. Old stalwarts like Shah-Rukh and Gauri Khan are personifications of the new-age relationship that is governed extensively, perhaps even wholly, by monetary terms. Spousal validity is now more than ever a commodity that is directly proportional to the amount of money involved and our super-rich celebrity couples provide insight into how the institution of a relationship became so convoluted. A celebrity relationship is often little more than a business relationship that is convenient for the parties involved. This is evident from the amusing pre-nuptial agreements that are all the rage in Indian high society, yet another element happily borrowed from our western counterparts. Yes, the pre-nupt is undoubtedly a requirement but the somber truth is that it is fast becoming the foundation of celebrity relationships.

Today we measure the success of a celebrity couple by the number of times they are seen out in public together. As a result, slightly less social couples are often fodder for tabloids that enjoy breaking out the staid old ‘trouble in paradise’ rumors. In this way, it is the inquisitive Indian public, motivated again by our western counterparts, that is contributing to the disintegration of the concept of a relationship. We fail to appreciate celebrities as human beings and instead confer a bizarre higher status upon them. India’s freedom of press must certainly be commended but its obsession with Bollywood couples is getting slightly out of hand. Would Gauri Khan be worth a mention if she wasn’t married to King Khan? Probably not but since she has maintained her relationship, and dresses in all the latest couture, she frequently graces the gossip pages.

Twinkle Khanna remains my favorite celebrity wife because of her accessories and clothes. Yes, the appeal is that superficial. If Twinkle Khanna were to come out of her house without her trademark Hermes Birkin bag, all hell would break loose and there would be a mad dash to find out what had happened to her relationship. This is because expensive products are fast becoming the defining factor of any celebrity relationship. Where would Malaika Arora Khan be without her vertigo-inducing Jimmy Choos? Probably divorced and depressed, at least in the minds of our Indian public who have happily twisted up the notion of a relationship and made things nice and simple: expensive products equal marital happiness.

In our haste to catch up with America we have quickly enforced certain ideals upon our culture, notions that are clogging the system and churning out a bizarre breed of people who have a hilarious sense of what is right and wrong. If you’ve seen the entertainment news programs in India and rolled your eyes at the oddball hosts gushing pointless details of Bollywood’s love lives you may as well pat yourself on the back because their roles are a classic example of supply and demand: we want the train wreck relationship and they find it for us, it’s as simple as that.

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