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Sun, Dec 06, 2009
The New Paper
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Bollywood beauties prefer Indian expats

SHILPA Shetty was the latest Bollywood beauty to do it.

Before her were Mumtaz, Meenakshi Seshadri and Madhuri Dixit, among others.

The thing these Bollywood actresses have in common?

They married Indian men who have made a name for themselves overseas.

According to a Times of India report, more Bollywood beauties like them prefer to marry non-resident Indian men (NRI), the acronym referring to Indian expatriates.

Last week, Shilpa Shetty married London-based businessman Raj Kundra.

Mumtaz, who formed a hit on-screen pair with 1970s superstar Rajesh Khanna, settled for NRI millionaire Mayur Madhvani in 1974.

One of her two daughters, Natasha, is now married to actor Fardeen Khan.

In 1996, Meenakshi married US-based software professional Harish Mysoreh.

Three years later, Ms Dixit opted for Mr Sriram Nene, a Denver-based surgeon.

Film trade analyst Amod Mehra told the Indian daily that the appeal of such NRI businessmen or professionals who have settled abroad is in the form of “total financial security”.

He said: “Heroines are used to a certain lifestyle and are unwilling to compromise on it after marriage.”

He noted that most actresses, after years of working in the industry, settle down after 30. But many in India feel that one is too old to marry at that age.

Said Mr Mehtra: “Since most Indian males are still not open to a 30-plus wife, an NRI groom works for them as they are more accommodating.”

He said most NRIs regard “a glamorous Bollywood star ... as a trophy wife”.

For the actresses, marrying these men and eventually living abroad offers more chance to dodge scandals and controversies, and therefore, more privacy.

Mr Mehtra elaborated: “They prefer to move abroad where controversies cannot keep chasing them. They stand a better chance of having a successful married life abroad.”

Social scientist Shiv Vishwanathan feels that being abroad with their expat Indian men removes the pressure for these beauties to maintain their need to be a leading figure in the Bollywood community.

Expat men less boring

He said: “This is one reason why such marriages are more successful as compared to their counterparts in India.”

Citing another attractive trait an NRI man has, he said: “A diasporic male is largely seen as having a world view.

“So, he gives the best of both worlds to a heroine – a glamorous lifestyle and new challenges.

On that count, someone in India is rather boring for them.”

The report also said there are actresses who choose to marry non-Indians for similar reasons.

An example is actress Rajshree, who left a lucrative career and settled in Los Angeles after marrying American Greg Chapman in 1967.

The couple have a daughter.

Said film historian Firoz Rangoonwalla: “Despite being the daughter of such a big film-maker as V Shantaram, Rajshree did not see a future in India. That’s why she chose to marry abroad.”

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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