Film and cricket fans are going gaga over the wedding of Anuska Sharma and Virat Kohli, in Italy, to be followed by lavish receptions in Delhi and Mumbai.
Make one think back on two of the biggest stars of Indian cinema, who had quiet, secret weddings.
Shammi Kapoor fell in love with Geeta Bali during the shooting of 'Rangeen Ratein' (1956) in Ranikhet. There is an incident that he has recounted in several interviews. It was well known in the industry that he was fond of big-game hunting and for a 'shikari', bagging a tiger is a dream. One night, after shooting, they were driving back in two jeeps. A while later, Shammi saw her jeep stop. When he reached Geeta, he was amazed to see that she was doing a wild jig on the bonnet of the jeep. She had spotted a tiger and was shouting for Shammi to go after it and shoot it. She was not in the least afraid and the sight of her dancing on the jeep sealed Shammi’s love for her. When they returned, he kept proposing to her, but she kept turning him down with a smile. One day, they were shooting at Juhu Hotel and he popped the question again. This time, she said, “Yes, but the wedding would have to be now.”
They were both in regular work clothes, she in a simple, pale pink salawar kameez. Shammi’s parents were not in town. The decision to marry was taken, but they didn’t know where or how. Johny Walker had eloped and got married just then, so they went to his house to ask him how to go about it. He said he was a Muslim and for Hindus it was different. They would have to go to a temple and get a priest to perform the wedding rites.
Past midnight, they rushed to the house of Hari Walia, the producer of 'Coffee House'. He took them to a temple in Banganga, but the priest said the temple was closed and they would have to come back the next morning. They stayed up all night, anxious and keyed up. Shammi’s servant was woken up to cook a midnight meal for the two. It was raining when, at the crack of dawn, they went to the temple in their crumpled clothes and got married.
Geeta took out a lipstick from her purse, with which Shammi drew a red line in her hair to substitute for 'sindoor', and finally they were husband and wife. They went home, changed their clothes, told their parents, took their blessings and returned to work.
The other was Dev Anand… he had had his heart broken by Suraiya and busied himself with work. A new actress, Mona Singa, renamed Kalpana Kartik was cast opposite the star in 'Baazi' (1951). They went on to do half a dozen films together, and somewhere in between, fell in love. During the making of 'Taxi Driver' (1954), when the lighting was being changed, around midnight, Dev Anand signaled to his heroine, they went into another room and exchanged rings in the presence of the registrar and signed the register. And just like that, they were married. They returned to the set to continue the shooting. Only the cameraman noticed the ring on the bride’s finger, because it was not part of the scene’s continuity. The Singha family and film industry came to know of the secret wedding a few days later.
That was then, this is now…