Aishwarya and Gurinder: The new power couple in Bollywood

As if the colorful yarns spun on screen were not enough to keep people engaged, there has always been a parallel track of extra-marital affairs and spicy romances in Bollywood, some of which have far exceeded the drama and passion of anything that you would ever see on screen. Yesteryear couples like Dev-Suraiya and Raj Kapur-Nargis have been matched by Amitabh-Rekha, Ramu-Urmila and Boney-Sridevi in more recent times. Most of these romances have been mutually beneficial contracts with men utilizing their traditional power and influence in the industry in exchange for presumably stolen, steamy moments away from the prying eyes of their family and fans in offshore locations (Dev-Suraiya was an exception where Suriaya provided both the glamour and the power in the relationship). Women of course have benefited by landing some of the roles that they arguably would have never gotten otherwise. These romances do not fall under the category of casting couches because they usually last much longer and many times end up in marriages as well. Bollywood Couples Legendary Bollywood Couples

Well, it seems to me that there might be a new twist in the traditional role of males as a purveyor of power and influence and casting (as a director-producer or an influential star) his favorite actress in the leading role (euphemistically called the muse). As I sat watching pictures of Gurinder Chadha and Aishwarya Rai this morning at the announcement of their new movie, Dallas, I wondered why this one movie wonder (Bend It Like Beckham) keeps on torturing us? It is bad enough that the movies are sold as India’s cultural representations, what makes them insufferable is to first see the plastic maiden, Aishwarya Rai, act in them and then preen around on foreign shores with her fake smile and dimwit answers as a symbol of India. Bride and Prejudice, The Mistress of Spices and now Dallas – when does it end and why does Gurinder do it?

Then it struck me, in my eureka moment. Why did Ramu caste Urmila, a garish and unsophisticated actress before Rangeela and gave her an extreme makeover? Why did Boney Kapoor keep plunking money down Sridevi’s broad nose until it was sculpted into something sharper than a parrot’s beak? Why did Amitabh fall for Rekha in her pre-yoga/pre-plastic surgery days?

It’s love silly! What else could it be? That faith that Gurinder has in Aishwarya almost seemed touching after this realization (“maybe this time she will be able to act”). So now on one hand, we have Gurinder in a position of power and able to land plum roles for Aishwarya; on the other hand is Aishwarya, finally far away from abusive and accusive boyfriends like Salman and Vivek (or Viveik if you will!), and finding a father figure in Gurinder and together they make kitsch like never before (do they make love also like never before?). I am sure Deepa Mehta must be giddy with anticipation over the screenplay for this one (a single word movie title anyone?). Moreover, it might open the doors to a whole slew of women-women relationships in Bollywood, after all there are plenty of women who now have power to wield in the industry.

Aish and Gurinder

Will they be a legend as the couples above?

But I digress. Coming back to Gurinder and Aishwarya, I feel that we must keep faith in love. Like Urmila’s transformation from Chamatkar to Rangeela, like Rekha’s from Saawan Bhadon to Silsila and Sridevi’s from Tohfa to Lamhe – there might still be a movie that Gurinder will make for her, maybe a remake of The Young and The Restless, when Aishwarya will finally be able to act. They say that love can perform miracles and this certainly would be one miracle worth waiting for.

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