These days no secrets can be hidden. It is the time of wiki leaks you see. Rajeev Masand started this trend in Bollywood with the blind items he writes for Open Magazine. Leading publications have followed suite.Today, DNA has a report on Bollywood wifes and the use of drugs. I was disillusioned when I read it. I am a bollywood fanatic and I like to keep the picture rosy. But i guess stars lead a rather stressful life and their wifes even more so and they sometimes take the easy route to solve their problems.
So here goes the report. I am not going to take names but it is very clear who they are refering to. What would be your advice to these star wives who are overshadowed by their star husbands?
It’s well-known in filmy circles that the star wife of a Bollywood hunk (he loves showing off his six packs) fell into severe depression on learning that her husband was sleeping with an actress. She — let’s call her Mrs N — turned to drugs, and started eating less and less. Despite being slim, she lost 20 kg and now looks reed-thin.
Then there is the wife of a rotund star comedian. She copes with the reality of a husband who doesn’t care about her, and is a schizophrenic to boot, by regularly popping barbiturates.
Similar is the tale of a yesteryear star who had risen to filmy glory from a Mumbai chawl. His beautiful wife got hooked to drugs after she began dating a male model who was a known drug user.
From being a regular on the social circuit, she has withdrawn into a shell since her addiction.
Women of substances
A couple of months back, for instance, the wife of a Bollywood superstar was caught at Berlin airport with marijuana in her handbag. She was subsequently let off because the quantity was less — only enough for personal consumption.
Pressure was brought to bear so that neither the police nor the airport officials dared to reveal her name. And the incident therefore never made it to ‘news’, being consigned to a mention in the gossip columns and tweets.
But industry insiders admit that substance abuse is quite common among Bollywood spouses. Call it the stress of living in the superstar’s shadow. Apparently, beyond the glaring limelight of a movie star, there lies a zone of intense darkness.
More often than not, this is the zone the star wife inhabits. Of course, from time to time, she also gets to bask in the star’s reflected glory. But it is a truism in the Hindi film industry that being a star wife comes at a price.
Dealing with the fact that your identity will be blanked out by your spouse’s, that you’ll forever be referred to as Mrs Bollywood Superstar, takes its toll, and sometimes, the person snaps, and seeks refuge in the embroidered reality of a drug-induced high.
Actor Om Puri’s wife Nandita Puri sets things in perspective, stating bluntly that spouses of many superstars take to drugs and have extra-marital affairs when they can’t cope with the fact that they no longer seem to have an identity of their own.
“You must understand that theirs is a lonely world. It’s like living in a fish bowl, and being unable to get used to it. At first, you enjoy all the attention you get from your spouse’s cronies. Soon, you begin to lose your sense of who you are, who you used to be. And from there, it’s a downward spiral — leading to depression, drugs and all the rest.”
The experience of star wife, Mrs N, buttresses Puri’s viewpoint. “When I am invited to events and parties, it is on account of me being N’s wife. People talk as if I am responsible for his hits and misses and his good and bad performances on screen. Even when I visit a friend’s pyjama party, the whole evening is spent discussing him. There are times when I ask myself ‘God! When did my life become only about him? What about me?’ The very fact that I don’t enjoy this anymore is a sign that I need to break off and go somewhere and be my own self,” she says candidly.
“Things were worse when he was having an affair. People began to treat me as if I had lost my husband. My children were coming and asking me, ‘What’s wrong with daddy’, my brother was calling to ask me if it was really true and if I am moving out, and of course, there’s this big, bad friend-circle of mine who would wonder insinuatingly if he had lost interest in me because I don’t have sex the way he likes to or as often as he wants to.”
‘Coke only once in a while’
“I get together with my group of friends, and we smoke a lot of pot. We giggle and laugh when we are high, play games. Sometimes they bring tablets, and some snort cocaine. I do coke only once in a while. It transports you to a time and place where you are not bothered what’s happening in the here and now, and more importantly, you are not bothered what your husband is doing. It’s a blissful escape…” she trails off.
Model and actress Monikangana Dutta, who is part of the social circle that also includes perpetually coked up star spouses, believes that the stress of being a star spouse hits those women the hardest who just sit at home doing nothing.
“Not working, only looking good all the time, and ending up just socialising every day takes a toll on your sanity. You get a feeling that there’s nothing concrete in your life. On top of that, the husband is famous, and gets plenty of attention from attractive female fans and aspiring starlets — all that makes some women even more insecure, and they end up destroying themselves.”
In a way, being married to a star means you are married to someone super-successful, and this is a constant reminder to star wives of how unsuccessful they themselves are, avers clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany, who has quite a few clients from Bollywood film families. “The best way to cope is to develop your own identity. And in the case of a drug addiction, they need to undergo a rehab programme followed by counselling.”
Puri sums up the predicament of star spouses in a nutshell. “Most of them are just plain tired of pampering their husband’s egos all the time. They are tired of walking in their shadows, and tired of forgiving every time their husbands cheat. There are times when you simply cannot digest the fact that your whole life centers around one person, a person who doesn’t even care about you, and there is no way out. The tragedy is that even if you leave your star husband, you will spend the rest of your life being known as that person’s ex.”