Modern love- When the stars align

THERE was quite a flutter on social media over the visuals of Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao casually walking to Karan Johar‘s 50th birthday bash together and posing for photographs. But if people got past their surprise over how comfortable the former celebrity couple looked in each other’s company, they would realise that Khan and Rao have remained true to their words. While announcing their divorce in a joint statement last year, they had spoken about beginning a new chapter in their lives – “no longer as husband and wife, but as co-parents and family for each other”.

Khan and Rao continue to work together even after the change in their relationship status. Apart from being co-producers of Khan’s upcoming film Laal Singh Chaddha, they are associated with Paani Foundation, which they had co-founded. They celebrate personal milestones together too. Rao was there at the pool party to ring in the birthday of Ira Khan, Khan’s daughter with his former spouse Reena Dutta. The actor and his extended family have established over the years that ties can outlast a marriage. In the past, Dutta and Rao have been seen sharing laughs during special occasions. This is perhaps how a family, which has learned to accept others for who they are, looks like.

There is something exhilarating when former partners manage to remain friendly. In fact, what these celebrities are doing is not an aberration. It’s a reflection of how modern relationships have evolved as partners help each other and give priority to healing. Many have chosen to get rid of toxicity for civility when a relationship does not work out. There can’t be a better time to repeat its virtues than now as lurid details about the defamation battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard have invaded all possible social media platforms, notching up millions of views.

The trial had created an unsavoury precedent even before the jury delivered its mixed verdict that favored Depp. During the televised trial, their past relationship has been examined in detail and the clips circulated as TikTok videos, Insta reels or memes. Unfortunately, most of these posts show Heard in a poor light and question her credibility. This, many fear, might discourage abuse victims from seeking justice.
Worldwide people are fascinated with celebrities. They have been unofficial influencers for ages. For those looking for a palate cleanser, after weeks of Depp-Heard details proliferating their social media timelines, there is Demi Moore posting photos of what she calls their “blended family”. Closer home, Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor have established that it’s possible to work together after a breakup.

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If more proof of some Indian celebrities navigating their relationships with maturity, at least in public, was needed, Johar’s party rolled that out too. Twining in black, Hrithik Roshan walked hand-in-hand with Saba Azad and looked lovingly at her as they were photographed. Roshan’s ex-wife Sussanne Khan too came to the same party with her rumored boyfriend. Known to be a private person, Roshan has been at ease in public when spotted with Azad. The first time they were papped while coming out of an eatery, the couple was nonchalant, making no effort to dodge the photographers. They had the same chilled-out vibe some days later when they walked out of the Mumbai airport holding hands.

The couple has been open about their affection for each other on social media. Roshan once called her “an extraordinary human” while commenting on her post. Azad had called him “Mon amour” on a different occasion. It is no longer uncommon for high-profile couples to be open and expressive. The most heartening aspect of Roshan-Azad’s relationship is perhaps Azad’s rapport with Roshan’s ex-wife Sussanne. The actor-singer also continues to perform with her band partner and former boyfriend Imaad Shah.

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Until some years ago, the gossip columns used to be filled with the stories of exes going the extra mile to avoid bumping into each other at parties and award functions. The ending of an old relationship or the beginning of a new one used to be a hush-hush affair. Today, it’s different. A section of Indian celebrities seems to have learned to normalize divorce and breakup. They choose to move on without rancour, displaying a certain level of maturity. It comes with the quiet realization that it is OK to let go. They now refuse to carry the burden of projecting a perfect image in public.

So, when Khan and Rao make an effort to be “family for each other” even after their divorce, they inadvertently communicate to those inspired by popular culture that mutual love and respect can survive a broken marriage.

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