Talking business -- not just Bollywood's star wives! (Column: Curious Case)
So, you thought having a 'trophy husband' was enough? That you could revel in his popularity, splurge his moolah and lounge at beauty parlours and kitty parties all day? Get a reality check, dear ladies! Take a cue from Bollywood's star wives club -- names like Gauri Khan, Twinkle Khanna and Adhuna Akhtar always had the choice to do all that and more, but instead, they chose to follow their passion and become entrepreneurs.
Add to that, names like Suzzane Khan, Mana Shetty and Shilpa Shetty.
Their fields are different -- from interior designing and hairstyling to wellness clubs and philanthropy -- but to the curious me, a common factor binds them all: the desire to carve their own niche; a niche away from the shadow of their husbands' success stories.
Take, for instance, Gauri Khan, wife of Bollywood 'badshah' Shah Rukh Khan. A devoted wife and mother, Gauri's tryst with interior designing happened at her house Mannat itself, but she gave her hobby a professional twist by collaborating with another star wife, Suzzane, who is a qualified interior designer.
Suzzane, estranged wife of Hrithik Roshan, has an Associate of Arts Degree in interior design from Brooks College in Long Beach, California. She gained hands-on experience while working with her mother's interior firm, and has worked on homes of celebrities like Rani Mukerji and Priyanka Chopra.
She has her own brands, and together with Gauri, she recently announced the launch of their latest real estate project, Naira. A luxury mansion project in Goa, it will involve 12 luxury villas which will have a limited edition collection of furniture and accessories from Suzzane's The Charcoal Project.
Earlier this year, Gauri also launched her own design store named The Design Cell, much to Shah Rukh's delight and pride.
Twinkle and Mana are also names to reckon with when it comes to the interior design and decor business.
Twinkle, star kid of Bollywood's first 'superstar' Rajesh Khanna, is married to tinsel town's 'khiladi' Akshay Kumar. Had she wanted, she could've sat back and enjoyed a life of, first, being a star kid, and then, a star wife. But she tried her luck in films and then settled to follow her passion. She opened a decor store, The White Window, and penned her own success story.
Mana, who is actor Suniel Shetty's better half, too takes pride in being multi-faceted. She not only runs an interiors store, she also designs homes, runs an NGO called Save The Children India and even hosts a fundraising exhibition.
In an interview with Mana in 2010, I remember asking her whether being a celebrity wife gives a fillip to her endeavours. She gave a promising response: "I am not always Mana Shetty... I am also just Mana."
"I have an identity of my own. At least I think so and I believe in it. That's why I keep doing a lot of things on my own. Yes, I do have Suniel 100 percent behind me, but I think it does make a lot of difference when you do something on your own and you're not just a celebrity's wife," she said.
No wonder that when Adhuna Akhtar got married to actor-producer Farhan Akhtar, she didn't give up her first love -- hairstyling -- to be a star wife. She is now a celebrity hairstylist and even works for movies.
Let's count in Shilpa Shetty too! Agreed that she herself is a big name in Bollywood, and who managed to "loot" the hearts of UP and Bihar with her beauty and moves, but marrying a London-based businessman threw up an option of leading a relaxed life. What did she choose?
Shilpa is now a film producer, co-owner of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Rajasthan Royals, she runs the chain of luxury wellness chain IOSIS, and even has her own fitness DVDs. Her latest is a foray into the jewellery business. Woah!
The inference here transcends the fact that these women have stepped out from a zone which could be comfortable and stress-free. It lies in the fact that whether you have a wealthy spouse, who is famous and popular, it can't take away the individuality that a woman can carve for herself -- not just in a relationship, but in the outside world too!
(28.04.2014 - Radhika Bhirani is a Senior Correspondent-Cinema and Lifestyle at IANS. The views expressed are personal. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org )
(Posted on 28-04-2014)