The Bollywood Bahu Effect

Does marrying into a dynastic Hindi film family mean less autonomy and a doomed acting career? Fans are convinced Alia Bhatt is the phenomenon’s latest victim.

ranbir kapoor and alia bhatt
Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt at their wedding (Alia Bhatt Instagram)

Mehr Singh


August 25, 2023


8 min

“When I met him first, I saw danger,” Jaya Bachchan — née Bhaduri — tells Simi Garewal on a 1998 segment of her eponymous celebrity talk show. “He was the only one who could... dictate things to me, and I would allow him to do that.”

The episode not only provided a privileged glimpse into the Bachchans’ marriage, but also led to familiar rumors: a talented actress marries, is undermined or otherwise mistreated by her big-star husband who can’t handle her success, and slowly disappears from the limelight. 

Today, the phenomenon has claimed its latest “victim,” actor Alia Bhatt, who seemingly cannot apply lipstick or speak above a certain decibel without facing her husband Ranbir Kapoor’s wrath. And while netizens continue to posit conspiracy theories about Kapoor controlling Bhatt, that’s not really the point. What’s more worrying is the discussion about Bhatt’s predicament isn’t the first — and isn’t likely to be the last.

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