News East West
MUMBAI: Though cricket heroes and Bollywood heroines have mingled and dated since the 1960s, few have married. But now, a trend is emerging where Bollywood actresses are marrying cricketers.
In fact, Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, who married his actress girlfriend Anushka Sharma in Italy on December 11, is the fourth cricketer to marry an actress within the past two years.
Here are the seven cricketer stars who married the hottest Bollywood actresses. There are others who dated and had affairs with Bollywood divas:
1: Sharmila Tagore and Nawab Ali Khan Pataudi: They were from two great families. He was the scion of the royal Pataudi family, and she was related to Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
The two met in New Delhi in 1965 through a common friend, though the Nawab of Pataudi knew little about Bollywood.
The Bengali dimpled beauty didn’t give her heart easily to the cricketer Prince of Pataudi. In fact, poor Pataudi had to do a lot of wooing to win her heart.
It was reported that he gifted her a fridge first ( a rare thing in those days) , but it didn’t work. Then he started sending her letters and roses. After four long years, she said `yes.’
The two married in 1969, and Sharmila converted to Islam and changed her name to Ayesha Sultana.
When they were dating, Sharmila created sensation by donning a swimsuit in the film An Evening in Paris (1967). She also became the first Indian actress to appear in a bikini on the cover of Filmfare in 1967. But the liberal Pataudi had no problems with that.
2: Reena Roy and Mohsin Khan: The 1980s Bollywood actress Reena Roy, daughter of a Hindu father and Bengali mother, was romantically entangled with Shatrughan Sinha when suddenly in 1981 he met another woman called Poonam on a flight, fell in love with her and married her.
Reena’s world fell apart but Shatrughan tried to keep friendship with her going, basically two-timing her. For a while, Reena was referred as Shatrughan’s `other wife’.
Poonam knew her husband’s romance with Reena Roy, so she allowed him that much leverage and no more. Basically, Poonam by not letting go of Shatrughan but allowing him to continue his extra-marital affair with Reena, was trying to insult Reena.
At that time, Reena did something that shocked the film industry. She decided to marry Pakistani cricketer Mohsin Khan and leave Bollywood at her prime.
The two had a simple wedding in Karachi. The couple started splitting their time between Karachi and London where Mohsin had a mansion. Then a daughter – named Jannat – was born to them.
It was reported that the couple developed differences when Mohsin wanted to settle down in London which she didn’t want. At that time, Reena called her mother, who lived in Mumbai, to seek her advice to save her marriage.
As Reena once said, “I called my mom from London and asked her: `What is the meaning of marriage? She just said, `Nibha le. Shaddi means nibhana’. I listened to her, otherwise I think I would have come back way earlier.’’
Finally, their marriage ended in the 1990s. She returned to Mumbai and Mohsin returned to Karachi with their daughter Jannat. Mohsin married twice after his divorce from Reena. Reena got custody of the daughter when Mohsin married for the third time. She renamed her Sanam.
Reena never remarried after that.
3: Sangeeta Bijlani and Mohammad Azharuddin: Then Indian cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin and beauty queen and actress Sangeeta Bijlani met at a commercial photoshoot. An extra-marital affair developed between the two even as he was married to his wife Naureen.
After getting divorce from his wife, Azharuddin married Sangeeta in 1996. The two split in 2010 because of Azharuddin’s alleged affair with badminton queen Jwala Gutta. Before marrying Azahruddin, Sangeeta had dated Salman Khan for nine years.
4: Harbhajan Singh and Geeta Basra: The two dated for eight long years before tying the knot in 2015.
As the turbanator has said, he was smitten by the British Punjabi girl when he saw her first in a video song while playing county cricket in England.
Bhajji said in an interview, “I saw her in a song – Woh Ajnabee – when I was playing county cricket in London. I told my friend, ‘I want to meet this girl.’ I know many people in Bollywood now, but at that time I didn’t have too many friends in the filmy circuit. I told a couple of friends ki, ‘Mujhe isse milao yaar, kaun hai yeh’.
“When we went to South Africa and won the T-20 World Cup, I got her number from a friend and messaged her, ‘I am so and so and I would like to meet you over tea or coffee’. She didn’t reply for three-four days.”
He says when the team returned after winning the T-20 Cup, she wrote him, “Well done on winning the 20-20 World Cup. We are very proud of you and all the best. Keep making all Indians proud’. I said, ‘Wow, that’s a nice reply to what I asked’.”
Harbhajan says when the first IPL season started in 2008, she sent him a message, saying, “I need two tickets’. So I said,“Okay, ticket toh de hi deta hoon’. And then it was during the IPL that we met. I think isko laga ki inhone tickets di hain, toh ek baar toh milna chahiye.
She met me for coffee and then we became friends and after that, we got into a relationship. She made me wait for long and said, ‘We will be friends first and then see’.”
Geeta, who was born and grew up in Britain, explained why she kept him hanging for so long. “At that moment in my life, I wasn’t interested in getting into a relationship. I was very new to India and the industry. The Train had just released and my focus was on movies. I knew if I got into a relationship, then things will change.
“He pursued me for 10 months. I think the media also played a role in getting us together. I realised one day that he’s a nice guy, you don’t find a lot of nice guys these days. My friends loved him and they gave me the go-ahead.”
5: Yuvraj Singh and Hazel Keech: Yuvraj Singh, who dated many Bollywood actresses such as Kim Sharma, Deepika Padukone and even Preity Zinta, finally married British model actress Hazel Keech in 2015.
Hazel made her Bollywood debut in the 2011 Hindi film Bodyguard which starred Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor. She went on to do an item song Aa Ante Amlapuram in the 2012 crime-thriller Maximum. In 2013, she was also part of ‘Bigg Boss 7′.
Hazel, whose dad is English and mom a Bangladeshi Hindu, eluded Yuvraj for a long time.
For three years, he tried to meet her. Every time she said yes to have coffee with him, she won’t show up for the coffee and switch off her cellphone.
Yuvraj then took the other route. He used social media to get close to her and finally met her with the help of their common friends.
Once they met, this Punjabi munda knew how to trigger romance in her heart. After some time, the lady said `yes’ to Yuvraj. The two married in 2015.
6: Zaheer Khan and Sagarika Ghatge: In the case of Zaheer Khan and Sagarika Ghatke, it is hockey bowling over cricket.
In reel life in the film Chak De India, Sagarika is seen dating a cricketer Abhimanyu. In real life also, she ended up dating and marrying a cricketer.
The two met through common friends. They kept their romance udner wraps for months till they were spotted together at Yuvraj’s wedding reception.
7: Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma: India’s most eligible bachelor met the Bollywood beauty during photoshoot for a commercial in 2013. Love blossomed between them. They broke up briefly in 206 but were back soon.
The two married in Italy on December 11.
8: Anju Mahendru and Garry Sobers: Actress Anju Mahendru was smitten by the great West Indian cricketer Garfield St Auburn Sobers or simply Garry Sobers in the 1960 when she just a 17-year-old teen.
Sobers’ team was touring India when Anju met him and fell in love. It was rumoured that Anju had called off her engagement with actor Rajesh Khanna because of her love for Sobers.
Anju and Sobers got engaged, but they never married as they had different careers and lived thousand miles apart.
It was reported in the media that Sobers had informed Anju and sought her permission when he married his Australian girlfriend Pru Kirby.
9: Imran Khan and Zeenat Aman: Imran Khan was the most handsome cricketer of his time who had been educated at Oxford and came from a great family.
Zeenat Aman, the daughter of a Muslim father and and Anglo-Indian mother, was the top actress and beauty of her time, having won the Miss Asia-Pacific title.
So when the handsome Pakistani met the Indian beauty, she was swept off her feet. A rip-roaring affair ensued.
But their romance didn’t culminate in marriage. Zeenat married actor Mazhar Khan, while years later Imran tied the knot with British heiress Jemima Goldsmith.
10: Saurav Ganguly and Nagma: In 2001, when India were playing against the visiting Australian team, rumours of Indian captain Sourav Ganguly’s affair with south Indian actress Nagma surfaced. At that there were reports that the two had visited a temple and performed puja meant only for couples. Ganguly’s wife Donna called the reports `rubbish’ and his father had said that the photos of the two had been altered.
But in 2003, Nagma admitted in an interview with Savvy magazine, “Whatever one says, nobody has denied anything. As long as there is no denial of each other’s existence in each other’s life, any person can say anything they want.”
She said, “There was a career at stake, besides other things, so one had to part. One had to weigh a lot of things, rather than be on an ego trip and insist on being together.”
Nagma said was forced to end the relationship in the interest of the nation. “A smaller interest had to be sacrificed for bigger interests… When a game is being played, people should understand it is a sport. It’s very weird that people started getting carried away. Whenever India played, people said that a person was not doing well because he was emotionally attached. This is so juvenile.
“When it becomes too much, it starts affecting the interest of one another. Then slowly, though you’re supposed to bring happiness to a person’s life, you bring misery. Then it’s in the best interests to move on.”
11: Sushmita Sen and Wasim Akram: In 2013, there were reports of the budding romance between the Pakistani fast bowler and the former Miss Universe. There were reports that the two will marry soon and settle in Dubai.
But nothing happened between the two.
Sushmita took to micro blogging site to deny her affair, “Hi guys! Been reading about my upcoming wedding with Wasim..ABSOLUTE RUBBISH!!! Goes to show just how irresponsible media can be sumtimes! Wasim Akram is a friend and will always be one!! He has a wonderful lady in his life.. rumors like these are uncalled for n disrespectful!”
Wasim Akram too said, “I am tired of denying such rumours and now I want this to end once and for all.”
He said they were good friends only, calling her “one of the most graceful and decent ladies I have come across.”
12: Kapil Dev and Sarika: Indian fast bowler Kapil Dev had a brief love affair with actress Sarika in the 1980s. This happened after his marriage to his wife Romi Bhatia reportedly went through a rough patch.
The two lovebirds reportedly spent a great deal of time together, but the affair ended after some time. Kapil has had a solid marriage since then.
13: Ravi Shastri and Amrita Singh: The tall and handsome Ravi Shatri was the playboy of Indian cricket in the mid-1980s. Gorgeous actress Amrita Singh (Dingy) fell for him. The two were open about their relationship.
The two appeared on the cover of Cineblitz magazine. Amrita used to cheer him up during cricket matches in the stadiums. After months of fielding probing questions, they’ve finally made it a tie.
As India Today had reported at that time, Ravi slipped a ring on Dingy’s finger and said marriage is a different ball game. “I definitely don’t want an actress wife. I am chauvinistic. Her home should be her first priority.” In response, Amrita had said, “At the moment I’m too involved in my career to give it up. But I’m sure after a couple of years, I will be ready to become a full-time wife and mother.”
At that time, Amrita reportedly got close to Saif Ali Khan which led to her split from Ravi Shastri. While Amrita married Saif, Ravi married a Delhi girl. But both marriages ended in divorces.
14: Vivian Richards and Neena Gupta: Neena Gupta met the legendary Vivian Richards during the West Indies tour of India in 1987-88. They had a short-lived affair. Neena Gupta became pregnant and their daughter Masaba was born in 1989.
Neena Gupta and Viv Richards never married.