Bollywood's most celebrated couple has recently marked their 50th anniversary, a remarkable achievement amidst a backdrop of frequent divorces and extramarital affairs in the industry. The Bachchans' five decades of marriage is truly extraordinary. They exchanged vows in June 1973, after showcasing their enchanting chemistry in several blockbuster films.
Their paths crossed for the first time in 1970 when Amitabh Bachchan visited the Pune Film Institute with producer K Abbas and a group of actors. It was during this encounter that he first met Jaya Bhaduri, and her presence instantly caught his attention. While Amitabh was just beginning his journey in Bollywood, Jaya was already a superstar.
Amitabh first noticed the stunning Jaya on the cover of a magazine and was captivated by her eyes. It can be said that the seeds of love were sown at that moment. Their paths eventually converged in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's film 'Guddi'. Amitabh, who was already an emerging star, was thrilled to share the screen with Jaya Bhaduri.
Recalling their initial meeting, Jaya reminisces, 'I first met him on the sets of 'Guddi'. I was truly impressed by the fact that he was Harivansh Rai Bachchan's son. Although people laughed when I mentioned he was special, I was genuinely impressed by him. I never saw him as a typical hero; I believed he had the potential to be a versatile star. It didn't take long for me to fall in love with him'.
It was Jaya who first confessed her love for him. It was on the sets of ‘Ek Nazar’ that the angry young man Amitabh Bachchan fell in love with Bengali beauty Jaya Bhaduri. But Jaya’s close friend Rajesh Khanna wasn’t happy with their affair. He warned her many times that Amitabh wasn’t the right man for her. Rajesh used to ignore Bachchan who was a regular visitor on the sets of the Jaya Bhaduri-Rajesh Khanna film ‘Bawarchi.’ But Jaya was too much in love with Amitabh to let anything affect her.
Though they decided to get married in October 1973, a lot of dramatic events followed. They had made a pact with friends that if ‘Zanjeer’ became a hit, they would vacation in London. But Amitabh’s parents didn’t give consent and finally had to concede to their demands that such a trip could only happen after their marriage. So Amitabh made the biggest decision of his life. He not only proposed to Jaya but also met her parents. Finally, with everyone’s blessings, they got married on June 3rd, 1973, and took off for London that very day. Their wedding ceremony was an intimate affair, attended by family and friends.
It was when she was at the peak of her career that Jaya decided to quit and embrace marriage and domesticity. Once Amitabh had this to say about his successful marriage— “Every marriage is a challenge. Mine was no different. Jaya prioritized her family over her career. No one stopped her from acting but she opted to take care of her family. That’s something that really impressed me about her.”
The infamous Amitabh-Rekha affair started circulating 3 years after their marriage. Though there were rumours of his affairs with Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi, his liaison with Rekha affair took Bollywood by storm. Though it did cast a shadow on their marriage, they kept a dignified silence in public.
But in the late 70s, the Rekha-Bachchan affair had made it to the cover pages of film magazines. The 1981 film, ‘Silsila’ directed by Yash Chopra was said to be based on their controversial affair. Rekha stunned everyone by appearing in sindoor and mangal sutra at the wedding of Neetu Singh and Rishi Kapoor. That was enough for rumour mills to start all over again. It is rumoured that soon after that Jaya Bachchan called Rekha for dinner and made it clear that she has no intention of leaving her husband. And apparently, Jaya forbade her husband from working with Rekha. So that makes ‘Silsila’ their last film together. Bachchan was keener on saving his marriage. He flatly denied his affair and said there was only one woman in his life.
Today Bollywood’s most famous couple is celebrating 50 years of their marriage. And they are setting an example for youngsters to stick together during good times and bad times and how to stay happy in marriage.