Anushka Sharma, Virat: What's next on the career front?

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By HT

The wedding of the year — of actor Anushka Sharma and cricketer Virat Kohli — was rumoured, denied, and finally solemnised in Italy on December 11. 
 
The intense secrecy before the ceremony was followed by a flood of shaadi-mehendi photos on social media and a reciprocating deluge of good wishes and fan reactions.
 
Now that the power couple is married, the question is: what next? After a high-profile reception in Mumbai, Virat will be in South Africa for the Test series starting in early January, and Anushka will likely be rushed off her feet promoting her film, Pari, which has a February 9 release. The shooting and prep for her next two films — Anand L Rai’s film with Shah Rukh Khan; and Sui Dhaaga with Varun Dhawan — also start early in 2018.
 
It’s a lot of work being a top female actor in Bollywood, and before Anushka, only a handful of them have married at the peak of their career. They were: Kajol, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Vidya Balan, and Madhuri Dixit. Some of them took a break before returning to the screen; some carried on doing movies nonstop.
 
Asked if marriage is a roadblock for a top female actor’s career, filmmaker Anubhav Sinha cites the example of Jaya Bhaduri, who got married at the top of her game and delivered some big hits and acclaimed performances after that. “[Also] Shah Rukh Khan not only announced, but celebrated his marriage out in the open very early [after tasting] success. It totally depends on the individual. I feel that Anushka has at least five dozen great movies still to come,” he says.
 
Although many in the film industry feel that it’s a standard practice for Bollywood makers to write off female actors once they are married and then refer to any movie post marriage as a ‘comeback’, times are finally changing.
 
Film critic Omar Qureshi states, “It has infuriated every star, from Madhuri Dixit to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, no end. ‘Where did we ever go away to come back now’ is a common refrain of working actresses post-marriage. With changing times, mindsets are changing as well (hopefully). Anushka is so young and so brilliant and has married such an international icon that it’s going to be even more difficult for naysayers. Anushka is way too talented to ever ‘go away’ or ‘come back.’”
 
Trade analyst Sanjay Mehta points out why it’s not fair to single out just the female actors for such questions. He says, “There was a time when even the men hid the fact that they were married — be it Shah Rukh Khan, when he entered the industry, or Aamir, when he did Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988).
 
Mehta adds that much has changed in the past decades, and married heroines are accepted by viewers now as much as any other big star. “Anushka is an accepted face. It’s just that she herself might put [up] some barriers in terms of what she wants to do on screen. She might become more selective with roles,” he says. “But then, there’s room for every kind of cinema today. So Anushka has a safe career path. As for her future projects, I’m sure [that] being a thorough professional, she won’t jeopardise films that are already on the floor. Those that might get affected are the ones that are yet to start.”
 
Since Anushka and Virat are at the top in their respective fields, marriage might help them up their game as a team. Trade analyst Atul Mohan says, “I know it’s not very often that we see married women being highly successful in Bollywood, but Anushka is one of the top actresses we have today. And she already has some top projects lined up, so there’s no [question] of a sabbatical in her case. Also, look at how Kareena and Kajol have carried forward their careers after marriage; they are idols and inspiration to many.”