By Siddharth Srivastava
Some relationships seem to be forever under scrutiny. In politics, there is the one between Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh.
Despite the analysis and speculation, Manmohan-Sonia plane of operation is clear – do as she says or don’t do anything at all. Given such sound understanding that has stood the test of two uneventful tenures Singh has hinted he may not be averse to be PM again, for the third time, unless Narendra Modi has his way.
In the Congress, as everybody knows, it is the Gandhis who play, umpire and third umpire at the same time. The rest need to periodically prove themselves as inconsequential or like Digvijay Singh talk absolute gibberish to underline their total intellectual inferiority to the Gandhis.
Given such benchmarks and to keep Sonia in good humor, Singh has repeatedly said he is ready to abdicate the hot seat for Rahul Gandhi, who has ruled himself out as PM for reasons that are as abstract as his speeches.
Beyond politics, the liaison that regularly pops up in any media is Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha. They attend every Bollywood do, are allotted the front row due to their larger than life stature and achievements, but make it a point to avoid each other. A man and a woman can evolve to a stage of effortlessly avoiding each other in public only after knowing each other intimately which Rekha and Bachchan obviously did.
There is certainly deeper understanding that can never be captured on camera. Still, every year during Holi, India serenades to Rang Barse, the sizzling Bachchan-Rekha Silsila number. Such chemistry is not possible with the wife, girlfriend or partner. It is reserved for the other woman.
Beyond Bachchan, there can only be Salman Khan, the only Rs 2 billion Bollywood superstar while others struggle to scale the Rs 1 billion level. Salman is the most eligible middle-aged bachelor in India, along with Rahul Gandhi.
Unlike Rahul who has also ruled out marriage for reasons that again seem very abstract and other worldly, Salman has been involved with two top contemporary Bollywood beauties, Aishwarya Rai and Katrina Kaif.
Kaif and Salman have never admitted to a relationship though they are known to have stayed, traveled, gone out and acted together.
Nobody believes them as such platonic physical proximity is possible only between married couples. Going by media reports Khan, whose movies ride on his machismo image, has been dumped by Kaif for a younger actor, which goes to show that bedding the babe does not guarantee exclusivity with the babe.
It is said real life Salman is a little different than on-screen Salman, as the girls probably find out the hard way. He is supposed to be brash, possessive, hot-tempered, drinks to get drunk not be happily numb and apparently unleashes a slap or two on his lovers that must sting given those bulging biceps and big forearms.
Beyond Salman, there are other lesser Bollywood stars who periodically like to analyze their associations in public garbed as serious intellectual exercise, but actually a marketing gimmick.
For example, Saif Ali Khan is known to say he is a regular guy who has achieved his deepest desire to lead a normal life now that he has a young second wife Kareena Kapoor, an ex-wife, two grown up kids and two sets of in-laws.
Then there are Bipasha Basu and John Abraham who habitually divulge, even when not queried, why they really broke up and have moved on with their lives.
Perhaps taking a cue from brother Saif, Soha Ali Khan often speaks about the possibility of her marriage with her boyfriend, who I believe is an actor, without being provoked to talk about the subject.
Ajay Devgn is happily married to Kajol, but for some strange reason, feels the need to frequently state that he and Shahrukh Khan, Kajol’s co-star in many movies, are not friends and they do not know each other well. Who wants to know whether Devgn and Khan know each other well, apart from Karan Johar?
The present generation of cricketers, meanwhile, is strangely scandal free, unlike earlier. Everybody, like Sachin Tendulkar, seems keen to play with a straight bat in their personal lives. Only a long retired Azharuddin looks to be briskly scoring off the field. There was Yuvraj Singh who unfortunately had to battle cancer.
Virat Kohli has potential should he get the focus right and stops brawling with seniors like Gautam Gambhir. In the absence of any solid tittle-tattle, attention has thus been on the Sreesanth-Harbhajan slap gate that happened five years back. Who cares whether Sreesanth was kicked or kissed by Harbhajan.
(Siddharth Srivastava is a New Delhi-based journalist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)