The term cougar refers to a relationship where a woman is romantically involved with a much younger man and it was the theme of the 2009 superhit film “Wake up Sid“. Audiences loved watching Ranbir Kapoor falling in love with the older Konkona Sen Sharma and even thronged the theatres for it. This trend is not so uncommon in India. It has been around for some time now. And, yes, Indian sensibilities are not in conflict with such relationships. The phenomenon, whether people like it or not, is increasingly coming out in the open. In the past too, such relationships existed but were not talked about too much.
Quite a few Hollywood celebrities have had successful “cougar” marriages and the recent example is Demi Moore who has enjoyed marital bliss with 15-year younger actor Ashton Kutcher. Other such couples are Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins (12-year age gap), Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon (10-year age gap). Even pop diva Madonna, known for her experimental looks, tried it when she tied the knot with 10-year younger Guy Ritchie.
Way back in 1967, Hollywood came out with its famous classic “The Graduate”, where Anne Bancroft, an older woman, seduces a much younger man, played by Dustin Hoffman.
In India the most publicized Cougar Couple was Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh in 1991. (That was when I was 1 year old!!!!) She was 12 years older to him. Their marriage had raised a lot of eyebrows, with people questioning the compatibility and the big age-gap, but it lasted a good 12 years.
Anything which is slightly different raises eyebrows for a while. This happens more so with celebrities because they are so much in the public glare and the reactions are all the more manifest.
Mumbaikar and their love for Sachin Tendulkar, the master blaster cannot be hidden. Even master blaster Sachin Tendulkar’s wife Anjali Tendulkar is five years older to him whereas Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala has married seven years younger Samrat Dahal and choreographer-turned-director Farah Khan tied knots with eight-year younger Shirish Kunder.
The age difference of a year or two doesn’t even qualify for the term “cougar”, and there are many examples of such couples in the Hindi film industry – Bollywood actors like Aishwarya Rai and Shilpa Shetty have respectively married Abhishek Bachchan and Raj Kundra who are two years younger to them. Even legendary actress Nargis was a year older to her actor husband Sunil Dutt. Recently we have news of Bipasha Basu and Harman Baweja going public about their relationship. They have ardly a two years age difference, as per records.
Sometimes such marriages are seen by society as an attempt by a woman to have some fun in her life or by someone who wants to tame her partner and can do so by marrying a younger man. This psyche was beautifully portrayed by director Ajay Sinha in the popular television serial “Astitva – Ek Prem Kahani”, about a young photographer marrying a doctor who’s 10 years older to him. I still remember how crazy I was for this television serial.
A drastic shift in the financial status has made today’s women independent and they enjoy the power to pick and choose their partners without worrying about age, money and caste. Women today, just like the men, are experimenting and are also sure enough of them to take such chances. In this whole discussion, we must not make it a feminist thing as it is as much a woman’s choice as a man’s. The younger man is also, at the same time, taking the decision to marry an older woman.
On this note I would like to say that love knows no bounds. It’s more of a choice than implication. There are many parents out there who don’t force their daughters to get married at the age of 27 or 28. Women getting more independent these days have resulted in women having their options open from different age group.
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