The news that Rakhi Sawant is in the process of choosing a husband with a TV version of the traditional swayamvara as most prominently depicted in the Ramayana brings to mind some of the most famous of Bollywood weddings. In the Ramayana, when Sita comes of marriageable age, her father the king organises a contest and whoever is able to wield the golden bow wins the right to marry her. Only Rama can do this and wins her hand. In the Mahabharata, Prince Arjuna has to hit the eye of a fish with a bow and arrow in order to win Draupadi’s hand.
Echoes of this tradition are found in Arthurian legend when Arthur is the only person able to wield the sword in the stone, in some legends placed there by the lady of the lake, thus winning the right to become the King of England. Other echoes of the legend can be found throughout Indo-Aryan culture such as when Sigmund draws Gram out of Odin’s tree; or when Theseus draws his father’s sword from under the rock and learns that Aegeus is his father.
With weddings in mind, let’s look at some of the most spectacular of Bollywood’s real life weddings:
Shahrukh and Gauri
Shahrukh Khan fell in love with Gauri Chhiba in 1984. She didn’t like him at first but he soon won her over and they tied the knot in 1991. It was a tough task for Shahrukh to achieve this for he was a Muslim and Gauri came from a traditional military Hindu family — but as we all know, love conquers all! The two lovers had to keep their friendship under wraps for six long years as it was assumed that Gauri would marry someone from her own community.
The stress of a secret love grew too much for them and eventually Gauri felt she had to get away and she fled, moving to Mumbai with a group of friends. A distraught Shahrukh confessed everything to his mother who gave him enough money to follow her with the message that he should find the one he loved and bring her home.
Shahrukh and his friends sought all over Mumbai for Gauri without success and then on the last day when he had no money left, a taxi driver suggested he try Aksa Beach as a long shot. She wasn’t there but he ferried from there across to Gorai and saw her standing in the water. He ran down the beach to her and then she saw him. They embraced in the water with Gauri crying freely and they knew they would never be parted again.
Would make a great movie, na?
Kajol & Ajay Devgan
They famously courted each other for five years, without controversy and constant loyalty, finally taking the step towards marriage on February 24th, 1999. The stunningly beautiful Kajol Mukherjee and the cheeky hamster-faced Ajay Devgan honeymooned in Europe, Egypt and Australia. Four years later, they gave birth to their own goddess of purity, Nysa. “My marriage has been the best thing that has happened to me. My life was directionless for a while. Marriage has given me a purpose,” Kajol says.
Constantly cited as one of the happiest couples and happiest families in Bollywood, their story appears to be one of true love always. What does Kajol put down to the secret of their success? “There is no secret at all,” she confesses, “It has worked because both of us wanted it to work and we have tremendous love plus respect for one another. You need to work on a relationship and that is what we do in our own little ways every single day. The feeling of caring must be there in both the partners and this does not begin or end with those three words ‘I love you.’ We also realise that we need to give some space to each other to grow individually, as a married couple and as Nysa’s parents. It is not that we do not have fights or arguments. But these are the things that add spice to a marriage, don’t they?”
With practical advice like that, if Kajol ever gets tired of acting, she should set herself up as a marriage counselor!!
Amitabh and Jaya
Amitabh Bachchan, the Shahnshah of Bollywood, married Jaya Bhaduri whilst they were filming for Sholay, the movie that would launch Amitabh into the stratosphere of stardom and would change the face of Bollywood forever.
Jaya had first seen Amitabh at a college and had said to her friends that she liked his personality. “But he’s so thin,” they replied, “Like a stick insect.”
In the end, they decided very quickly. Zanjeer had done well as a movie and Amitabh, Jaya and their friends wanted to go to London to celebrate. Amitabh’s parents objected saying you couldn’t go on holiday with a girl if you weren’t married to her. “What’s the problem?” said Amitabh, “We’ll get married.”
They’ve been married now for 35 years !
Hema Malini and Dharmendra
Dharmendra married his Dream Girl in 1980, despite the fact that Hema’s father objected to the marriage. But Hema, who went on to become one of the most famous of the Rajya Sabha MPs, has always been strong-willed and knew what she wanted. She waited until after her father’s death before finalising the marriage to her mother’s disappointment. She was Dharmendra’s second wife. They have two daughters, actress Esha Deol and Ahana.
Hema has never regretted her decision. “After all these years, he still looks at me like he did when we first met. He makes me feel special,” she says.
Dharmendra’s love for Hema is equally strong. “Hema is a brave woman and also the prettiest one,” he says, “She can give much more than I ever can. What I feel for her is beyond love…. Any moment that we share together is beautiful; I wish to have more and more moments with her.”
Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna
Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna got married in a secret ceremony in 2001. Understandably, Twinkle has occasionally been jealous of her man and it was rumoured at one time that she felt nervous whenever Priyanka Chopra was around — but then what woman wouldn’t?
However, the two looked pretty close together during the controversy earlier this year over Twinkle unbuttoning Akshay’s jeans at the Levis Fashion Show at the Lakme Fashion Week and for Twinkle’s last birthday, Akshay bought her a Bentley — that must say something — the last car my wife bought me came in a matchbox.
They are the very proud parents of Aarav.
Hrithik Roshan and Suzanne Khan
In another Hindu-Muslim confluence, similar to Hrithik’s role in Jodhaa Akbar, Hrithik and Suzanne got married at the Golden Palms resort in Bangalore, late in 2000. They now have two sons Hrehaan and Hridhaan.
Suzanne had been Hrithik’s childhood sweetheart and neither could be certain of the point when friendship turned to love, although Hrithik claimed it took place whilst he was waiting at some traffic signals in Mumbai — how romantic is that?
Hrithik recently rubbished any suggestion that the marriage was under strain due to his closeness to Kites co-star Barbara Mori and gave a full explanation to their recent domestic arrangements. “It is too funny!!” he exclaimed, “Yes Suzanne has shifted to her parents’ place with the kids two days ago and I was to join her on my return as there is a white ant treatment going on in my house and a section of my floor is being renovated”.
Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai
In the wedding of the year in 2007, Abhishek Bachchan married his Miss World, Aishwarya Rai, causing millions of men to break into spontaneous weeping worldwide.
At first, it was never obvious they would be together. When Aish first hit Bollywood, it was Salman Khan who was all over her — perhaps too much so. His brash ways slowly drove Aish away from him and their relationship ended with some degree of rancour. Aish then started seeing Vivek Oberoi but this was destined not to last either.
On the other side, Abhishek seemed all set at one stage to be with Karisma Kapoor but it never materialised.
It was about this time in 2006 that Aish found herself being charmed by Abhi’s sense of humour. He started teasing her with the name Number Nine when a magazine named her the ninth most beautiful woman in the world. Some women are easily pleased.
Finally, it was during the filming of Guru that romance bloomed full-on between the two and since their marriage two years ago, they have been inseparable.
Shammi Kapoor and Geeta Bali
The two effervescent personalities of Shammi and Geeta first met on the sets of Miss Coca Cola and Coffee House. They married in 1955, became the golden couple and had two sons together. In the beginning, Geeta was the star as Shammi, who was her junior by a year, had yet to break through on his own – but when he did, the happiness of their union off-screen seemed to shine through every confident scene in his movies.
Inseparable during their ten years together, tragedy struck when Geeta died suddenly of small pox whilst working on a Punjabi movie, Rano, far away from home. She was only 35 years old. She had never been inoculated against the dreadful disease that is now thankfully extinct outside of government laboratories. At that time, Shammi was working on the script of Teesri Mansil. He buried himself in his work.
Shammi was bereft at her loss and although he married for a second time later, he was never to forget his first love.
Sanjay Dutt and Manyata
Sanjay Dutt’s controversial marriage to Manyata at the Taj Exotica in Goa in 2008 led to some family disagreements but the pair appear to be very much in love. “I am so happy that I do not have words to express it,” said Manyata after the ceremony, expressing it very well.
Sanjay’s sister, Lok Sabha MP Priya Dutt, took a calm view of the news, “I don’t think the marriage should be given so much importance,” she said mysteriously, “Sanjay and Manyata have been seeing each other for a long time.”
Sanjay was ecstatic at the wedding. “Manyata is an incredible woman,” he said, “She knew that there would be difficult times ahead, but she was ready to come on board for the journey. We just wanted to be together. I have no doubt in my mind, in my heart, that she will make me an excellent wife.”
Amrita Arora and Shakeel Ladak
In March 2009, Amrita Arora married in a star-studded ceremony with just about everyone who is anyone in Bollywood being present. Her bridesmaid’s at the Catholic ceremony were Kareena Kapoor and Malaika Arora Khan. The catholic ceremony was followed by a sangeet ceremony and a formal nikaah.
Amrita’s wedding dress was designed by Ashley Ribello and no less a figure than Farah Khan choreographed the sangeet.
The couple honeymooned in the US after family and friends dissuaded them from travelling to Mexico.
Ayesha Takia and Farhan Azmi
Everyone’s favourite girl next door, Ayesha Takia, was swept off her feet by long-time boyfriend Farhan Azmi and they tied the knot in March of this year.
The couple had originally planned on marrying earlier but had decided to postpone their plans in light of the Mumbai terror attacks — the sensitive Ayesha being badly affected by the event. “When Ayesha heard the news about the attacks, she broke down,” explained Farhan, “Dad – Samajwadi Party leader, Abu Azmi – was in a hospital recuperating after an operation. He too was very upset, when he heard about the attacks. None of us are in the mood for any celebrations this year. Our mood is too grim and sombre. As of now, there can be no wedding celebrations.”
There was a huge sigh of relief when the marriage finally took place four months later. “I can not conceal my excitement. I am very happy,” said her mother.
Wonder who will be next? We will all have to wait and watch!