So Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan is pregnant. Well, it had to happen sometime; she’s been married for four years now.
So what’s all that noise?
Stories of Aishwarya’s “unprofessionalism” are the topic du jour — from being fired from Madhur Bhandarkar’s Heroine to the producer and director feeling betrayed at not being informed about her “condition” to UTV losing crores. But not a single person attached to the film has gone on record to clarify or comment on any of it. In any case, instead of congratulatory messages, all she’s getting is bad press — for no valid reason.
And if the reason is her pregnancy, then that’s a silly old media fixation. The days of an actress’ bankability being measured by her marital and mum status are so far behind. Aishwarya is not the first Bollywood star to get married, and pregnant. If Kajol, Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi have shown us anything, it’s that they had a career-run so fine that a hiatus of any length did not ruin their chances of a comeback — on their own terms.
Consider Shilpa Shetty: her stock shot up after she wed Raj Kundra. Her impending pregnancy is unlikely to hamper her Shut Up and Bounce numbers on screen. And to think about it, if Kareena Kapoor decides to marry Saif Ali Khan, her career’s not going to slide; it may, in fact, up the bar for single actresses out there — Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif and Deepika Padukone — simply because she is an actress, not just a star. Even Aishwarya has starred in roughly eight films after marriage — Guru, The Last Legion, Jodhaa Akbar, Sarkar Raj, Pink Panther 2, Raavan, Action Replayy and Guzaarish.
And God knows there is a dearth of actresses in the industry!
There’s always space for leading ladies here. That’s why many of them have either already made or are about to make their return. Even an item number counts:
Kajol is mum to eight-year-old Nysa and nine-month old Yug. She shot for We Are Family while she was carrying Yug and even moved to a rip-off of Elvis Presley's Jailhouse Rock in the film.
But when she had her first-born, Nysa, she refused a film with closest friends, Shah Rukh Khan and Karan Johar, because they could not accommodate her request of filming around Juhu, Mumbai, since she wanted to be close to Nysa. That was until Nysa was old enough to travel with her. Then she shot for Fanaa in New Delhi and Poland and for My Name is Khan in the US. She even shed the pounds and wowed size-zero wannabes.
Kajol has possibly done her best work after marriage: Fanaa; U, Me Aur Hum; My Name is Khan and We are Family. She only does the films she wants to. Maybe because she knows she is on every filmmakers wish list and reigns supreme at the box office.
Madhuri Dixit broke the nation’s heart when she married Dr. Nene in 1999 and left for the US to play house in Denver. But Bollywood couldn’t forget her and wanted her back. In 2001, Forbes named her among the Top Five Most Powerful Indian Movie Stars.
Mother to two boys, Arin (8) and Ryan (6), she returned with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas in 2002 – while she was pregnant — and charmed everyone with her portrayal of Chandramukhi.
While shooting for Aaja Nachle in 2007, Yash Raj Films adhered to her demand of having her kids close to her at all times by making a special crèche for them. Even today, when she is approached for films and television work (she did Jhalak Dikhla Jaa — Season 4), her contract specifies that she will travel to the US frequently. She continues to be wooed by filmmakers, television channels and advertising agencies more than ever, never mind the naysayers. In 2008, she was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award by the Government of India.
Sridevi, the most versatile actresses Bollywood has ever had, is all set to make a comeback with R Balki’s wife, Gauri Shinde’s film even as her 14-year-old daughter Jahnvi readies herself for a career in Bollywood.
Sridevi shot Judaai in 1997 while she was heavily pregnant with Jahnvi. Having been a child star, Sridevi pretty much worked all her life and after marrying Boney Kapoor in 1996, she chose to take time off and become a real housewife and raise her daughters Jahnvi and Khushi (11).
Her hiatus from the silver screen is possibly the longest. She did do a television series post marriage – Mrs Malini Iyer in 2004, and numerous television commercials during this time, so she was never really off the audiences’ radar as such. This untitled project with Gauri will be her long overdue brush with the arc lights, and she may even go on to work alongside Jahnvi soon enough.
Although she is not doing a full-fledged film after her marriage and motherhood, she will be seen in an item number in Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap – quite a big deal for a mainstream actress in the days of Sheila Ki Jawani and Munni Badnaam Huyi. Who knows, Raveena may take on film work, too now that her kids have grown and her abs are in shape.
Karisma Kapur married Delhi-based businessman Sanjay Kapur in 2003 and has two kids: six-year-old daughter Samaira and fifteen-month-old son, Kiaan Raj.
Even as younger sister Kareena rules Bollywood, Karisma is readying for her big comeback in Vikram Bhatt’s 3D thriller, Dangerous Ishq, for which she is being compensated handsomely.
She too, like Sridevi, did a television show in 2003 called Karishma – The Miracles of Destiny, the costliest show ever made on television at the time. She was a judge on Nach Baliye Season 4.
If Kajol, Madhuri, Sridevi and Karisma can do it, clearly on their own terms, why would Aishwarya — India’s most recognised face abroad — be any different? And let’s not forget, she’s a Bachchan. And the Bachchans don’t retire. Ever.