After a fairly quiet and uneventful six months, Katrina Kaif is in the news again. No, no, she’s not making a(nother) thoroughly mediocre movie or winning a totally undeserved award. The reason for our sudden collective interest in the woman who can contort her limbs in an alarming but impressive pretzel-like manner (honestly, her acrobatic feats in Dhoom 3 were the only redeeming qualities in a movie where the most amount of acting was done by Aamir Khan’s ears) is, surprise, surprise, her ex boyfriend’s pronunciations about his current girlfriend. Ranbir Kapoor is dating Alia Bhatt! The relationship is young, new, and exciting! It needs time to breathe and cook!
Naturally, we must immediately train our eyes on Katrina Kaif in the hopes that she might be having a public meltdown in the wake of this shocking revelation. What! A single young man is dating a single young woman from the industry they both belong to? How extraordinarily unusual! The least she can do is make some catty not-so-subtle remarks about the new couple, work out like a maniac and become skinnier than ever before, or walk around the streets of the city with bloodshot eyes and drooping shoulders. No? Nothing? How utterly unsporting of Katrina. Never mind her, so what if she’s unimaginative enough to have moved on, or, even if she hasn’t, to have the sense to say nothing about an ex from two years ago. We’ll satisfy our thirst for scandal by analysing a social media post that could literally mean nothing, and call it a cryptic response from a heartbroken and, hopefully, hysterical woman.
In fact, why just stop at Katrina, let’s go all the way back to the previous decade to see how Deepika Padukone, who dated and dumped Kapoor a whole nine years ago, is taking the “news” of this freshly brewing romance. Is she marinating in a curry of despair and jealousy yet? Is she drowning in an ocean of nostalgia for the time he, self-admittedly, cheated on her and broke her heart? Unfortunately, she too seems to be curiously unaffected by the goings-on in Kapoor’s life. She’s “happy for Alia and Ranbir”, we’re told, per a close mutual friend who is awful enough to sell out not just one, but two friends. On a side note, answering questions about her ex-flame must be a nice break from nipping rumours about her supposed impending nuptials to her current beau, Ranveer Singh.
This game of hounding the (female) exes would be funny if it wasn’t so disgustingly sexist and unashamedly vulgar.
Heartbreaks are difficult to navigate at the best of times, and it’s not hard to imagine that they’re infinitely more painful when you have to go through them while you’re firmly planted in the public’s eye. To have to keep revisiting them every time your ex has the temerity to try and find love with someone new is too high a price to pay, even for a celebrity. And somehow, it’s a price that women seem to be paying a whole lot more than the men in Bollywood. While Deepika and Katrina, Ranbir’s exes from years ago, have instantly made headlines for their (non) feelings about this new chapter in Ranbir’s life, Alia’s supposed ex from a few months ago — Sidharth Malhotra — seems to be carrying on with life as usual. What an excellent way to bludgeon in the stereotype of the crazy, obsessed ex-girlfriend who can’t seem to let go, in our collective psyche. Moving on and getting on with their lives is not a luxury we’re going to afford our female celebrities. Their newsworthiness is directly proportional to the upheavals in the lives of the men in their life — past and present. So we’ll sit around like salivating dogs, hoping to catch them in a vulnerable moment.
Over the last few days, every article about Ranbir admitting to the budding romance between him and Alia has made it a point to mention how Alia and Katrina have been close friends, covertly implying that this ‘sudden’ turn of events might drastically alter that equation. Because saheli bani souten is a so much more compelling story than two grown-ass women who have enough in common to forge a close friendship, also have the maturity to deal with their intertwined romantic past and present. We have no trouble accepting that Ranbir can love, respect and care deeply for the ex he’s cheated on, and another whose heart he publicly broke, but it’s so unimaginable to our worldview that two adult women might have a friendship independent of a man they happen to have a shared history with.
As a woman who has been in her fair share of, erm, unconventional romantic situations (who among us hasn’t, in the age of Tinder), I can vouch for the fact that grown women are perfectly capable of being friends with, and can maintain independent, healthy relationships with their boyfriends’ exes. Sometimes, if we’re forced to choose, we’ll even pick the friendship over the fuckboy. Because love and sex are great, but a friend who feels as passionately about pockets in women’s clothing is priceless!