July 2015: Is there something creepy about an age gap as vast as their 13 years?
I’m no Bollywood fan, nor star crazy or anything of the sort. But try as I might, I haven’t been able to escape all the little details about the 'private' affair that was Shahid Kapoor and Mira Rajput’s wedding. All over the internet and in the papers, I’ve been force-fed oh-so-important nuggets of information (the bride comes with Anamika Khanna, Anita Dongre and Masaba Gupta in her trousseau; the groom refused to sport mehendi at the ceremony). Aside from concerns about how we are increasingly becoming a celebrity culture, the little piece of information that’s really been troubling me is their age gap. More specifically, the age of the bride.
My husband, who’s two years younger than me, and I have a running inside joke. We call it the ‘Pygmalion Project’, after the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion, which, in turn, is based on the Greek story of a sculptor by the same name who decided to create a sculpture of the perfect woman. My Fair Lady, the classic film is based on the play.
Anyway, in the film and the play, an older man, Professor Henry Higgins teaches and moulds a poor younger woman, Eliza Doolittle into a high-society girl. So whenever I give Sahil lots of gyan about something or the other (and vice versa), he’s my ‘Pygmalion Project’ (and I his). In seriousness, we also use the term to describe couples we know or know of who have a skewed power dynamic and experience gap between them. Like in my first marriage.
When I was younger, I gathered that it was important to marry young. “The older you get, the more set in your ways you get; it’s harder to adjust to a partner,” was the refrain I would hear. And I did! I married a 31-year-old when I was 19, and that didn’t work out so well.
I don’t think the problem was the age gap—I know some perfectly happy couples with many years between them. The problem was me: how young I was, how little I knew myself, how well he knew himself, and the corresponding clashes as I grew.
Today, the very reason touted in favour of marrying young is the one I use to recommend marrying later in life. (I’m using the word to mean ‘finding a long-term partner’, the legality/sociocultural aspect of ‘marriage’ aside.) It’s important to grow up, know who you are, find yourself, travel, live, fuck, etc, before you decide to commit to a lifetime with one person, especially if the person is much older. And conventional (as Shahid is known to be).
If the pattern in his long list of past relationships with female actresses, as reported by the media, is anything to go by, Mr Kapoor cannot handle his women being more successful than himself. He also seems to suffer from the dichotomy of the typical Indian male—wanting ‘hot’ girlfriends but a ‘good’ wife. (In this case she’s selected by the family, so double points, yay!) To make matters worse, he’s the rich and famous ‘catch’ in the relationship.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish them ill any more than I do any random couple I’ve never met. They look happy enough. I just hope he respects her and treats her as an equal, and supports her career if she wants one, no matter that it pales against his. And that he lets her grow, not like as vine around his path and personality, but as an individual in her own right.
An edited version of this article appeared on iDiva in July 2015.