Not so long ago, marriage meant the end of a Bollywood actress’s career. We’ve witnessed many supremely talented actresses fall into oblivion upon becoming wives. The few who’ve managed to stay on screen were relegated to play the roles of mothers. As if, being married in real life meant that they were off limits as a love interest in reel life too. But, that’s all in the past now. In the last few years, with the likes of Kareena Kapoor Khan, Anushka Sharma, and Deepika Padukone not letting matrimony stop them in their tracks, the career span of actresses is duly becoming longer.
This speaks to a larger cultural change in the country. Parallel to this paradigm shift in Bollywood, nationally, we’re seeing that marriage or motherhood don’t always put a halt on women’s careers. An increasing number of men, too, want their partner to be financially independent, so they don’t have to bear the burden of providing, alone. Women’s ambitions are finally being encouraged, and even celebrated… As long as they are not “too ambitious”.
According to Monster Salary Index, as of 2019, women in India earned 19% less than men. Three years later, not much has changed. Women are often at the receiving end of remarks such as, ‘Why do you need more salary? You don’t have to support a family,’ or ‘Your husband also works, right? He can support you for some time.’ In short, it’s okay for Indian women to earn, but their income is considered only supplemental at best.
While we are embracing dual income marriages, there is still an expectation for the man to earn more. As more educated and driven women enter the workforce, with unencumbered ambition and ability to out-earn their male counterparts, this expectation is becoming a roadblock to building healthy partnerships.
The men who are wholly comfortable with having a more successful spouse are few and far between (here’s looking at you, Pankaj Tripathi). For most men in our country, even if their partner makes her own money, their own sense of worth comes from their bank balance – which should ideally be more than their wife’s.
Bollywood celebrities are aspirational for the majority of our country’s citizens. Like it or not, they have the power to shake up age-old biases and pave the way for new cultures.
Alia Bhatt is undoubtedly more accomplished than Ranbir Kapoor. With a net worth of over 517 Crore rupees, Alia is an accomplished actress, the owner of a production house called Eternal Sunshine Productions, and the owner of a clothing label called Ed-a-mamma. While the Kapoor family’s net worth is more than their new bahu’s, Ranbir’s is estimated to be around 330 Crores. This marriage, then, smashes all stereotypes about Punjabi families wanting a bride who’s “less than” their son.
Could #Ralia normalise women being more successful than their partner? Can star-struck women looking to get married now say, ‘I want someone like Ranbir,’ and mean someone who embraces a woman in all her glory, and not his good looks? Here’s hoping…