Recently, Anushka Sharma, who has worked in multi-heroine films like Dil Dhadakne Do, Jab Tak Hain Jaan and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, was asked about female rivalry, AKA “cat fights” between female Bollywood actors. To which Sharma, quite rightly, threw shade at the media for peddling such nonsense in the name of journalism.
“I don’t think such stories come out anymore. Mujhe lagta hai log expect bhi nahi karte (I don’t think people expect them anymore either). I feel now, it’s only the media that – sometimes – talks about such things because unfortunately, some people feel that we (female actors) aren’t professionals. The misconception is that, ‘arrey, ladkiyan hai (they are girls), so they will just come in and start fighting with each other’,” Anushka said.
“We (female actors) have a lot of work and various things to do. We are very busy, handling our lives as well as careers. We really don’t have the time to do such nonsensical bickering. We are not (standing) on the streets. Like mature people, we have a lot of responsibility towards ourselves,” she added.
Phew! Now that she settled that, yet again, like every other actress who came before her too, we can all move on. But, will we? The short answer is, of course, no.
Earlier, actresses were indeed pitted against each other, provided terrible short “shelf lives” in the industry, and such hostile situations often lead to personal rivalries. Several magazines in the 90s earned their bread and butter by selling (and fuelling) the alleged feud between Madhuri and Sridevi. However, both Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi, denied harbouring ill-feelings about each other.
Madhuri wasn’t the only one who was always supposed to be vying for the number one spot against Sridevi. The equation between Sridevi and Jaya Prada, who were contemporaries even in the South Indian film industries in their early days, soured considerably due to tabloid reportage on their alleged rivalry. The two actually became close friends later in their life.
Essentially, any actress could be randomly pitted against another. Be it Sridevi-Madhuri or Karisma Kapoor-Pooja Bhatt, anyone was game.
In stark contrast, when stories of Shah Rukh and Salman Khan’s rivalries would get reported, there was always an underlying sense of sympathy. Everyone always sounded like they wanted the once-hit duo who appeared as reel-life brothers in Karan Arjun, to patch up as soon as possible, which they seem to have done now.
The very tone shifts when “cat fights” are reported.
Questions like, “Was there a man involved?” and “Does this prove, once and for all, that two women really can’t be friends?” bounce off in between and beyond every line from the stories “reporting” on the incidents that lead to the rift in question.
Is there really no way to find some dignity in the way we talk about female celebrities in public that will still draw the readers in? Can we really not #AskHerMore? She does have more than the boys, diets, and “cat fights” to talk about. Maybe it’s time to consciously shift the focus.