Deepika Padukone bats for women who often sacrifice their own dreams to support their partners
Meet some women achievers who could have easily outshone their husbands
Deepika Padukone posted the first look of her role as Romi Dev alongside Ranveer Singh playing Kapil Dev in the upcoming biopic, 83. Hers was “an ode to every woman who puts her husband’s dream before her own.”
She praised the role women play in supporting their partner’s ambitions, often putting their own on the back burner. A gentle reminder, in the month of V-day gifts and Facebook relationship updates, of the sacrifices women have made for generations, for the sake of their families.
This truth shines clearly even when you analyse the origin stories of your favourite real-life heroes. For every male entrant into pop culture’s Hall Of Fame, there’s a spouse holding the family together, so that they can achieve their dreams.
Albert Einstein. Pandit Ravi Shankar. Even Mahatma Gandhi, whose wife Kasturba is finally having her side of the story told on stage by Zeenat Aman.
Women achievers who helped their husbands achieve their dreams
1. Mileva Marić
Albert Einstein had one of the greatest minds in the world and, as it turns out, a helping hand from his first wife Mileva Marić.
A physicist and mathematician, Marić’s mind surpassed Einstein’s on several occasions during their schooling.
There has been ongoing debate and speculation about the extent of her contributions to works that have been attributed to Einstein.
Digging through the archives of their correspondence with each other, testimonies from friends and family, their countless scientific collaborations became clearer and clearer.
She helped him through his mental blocks and self-doubt.
Perhaps the most unknown of the women achievers, she put her work on hold to help her husband succeed so they could marry. Even signed their common work under his name for publishing.
Her mathematical work and their theorising together and collaborations have been documented, yet not enough people know about it.
Einstein himself wrote to Mileva in 1901, saying, “How happy and proud I will be when the two of us together will have brought our work on relative motion to a victorious conclusion.”
2. Annapurna Devi
Annapurna Devi, born as Roshanara Khan, was a brilliant musician. But like most of the women achievers on this list, she’s better known by the men in her life.
Her father and guru, Allauddin Khan was a master musician. Her brother, Ali Akbar Khan became a famous musician too. Her husband, perhaps one of the most famous Indian musicians of all time, Ravi Shankar.
Her father initially refused to teach her. Only after seeing her correct a mistake made by her brother did he agree. He steered her towards the surbahar, which she mastered.
Shankar became a student of Khan’s, which is how they were eventually married, though is was filled with heartbreak and controversies that led her to retreating from public life.
Recordings of her playing are rare. Despite being the recipient of accolades like the Padma Bhushan and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, she never received the elevation and public recognition as a maestro.
As one commenter put it, “She was unjustly denied her legitimate place and legacy.”
3. Margaret Keane
Walter Keane was once an acclaimed painter of a series of subjects with big, vulnerable eyes. They were selling for millions – prints and postcards found a place in celebrities’ collection.
Legends like Joan Crawford, Dean Martin and Kim Novak doled out handsome sums to get their hands on a Keane original.
Only later did scandal break. It was all a lie.
Keane was taking credit for paintings created by his wife, Margaret Keane.
“I was in a trap, and I didn’t know how to get out,” she said in an interview. “It just kept snowballing.”
The real-life story of the fraud and the spouses’ fraught relationship was taken to the big screen in the 2014 film, Big Eyes, by Tim Burton.
4. Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan
Guddi shot a young Jaya Bhaduri to superstardom. Her future husband, Amitabh Bachchan, was still The Angry Young Man in the making.
But the talented actor put her film career on hold, diving into marriage headfirst and soon, motherhood too.
“It just happened, there was no decision,” she revealed on an episode of Rendezvous With Simi Garewal.
“I was tired of doing what I was doing, there were children and there was a home. That interested me a lot more than what I was being offered. So, it just vanished slowly on its own. I never discussed it with Amitabh.”
She took on the role of primary caregiver, while his career propelled forward.
In the 2004 season of the same show, her daughter Shweta admitted, “I feel really bad now because I don’t think Mama had any life apart from the house, she was always there.”
5. Michelle Obama
Before she became the world’s First Lady, Michelle Robinson was a whip-smart accomplished lawyer who had built her reputation on sheer grit and determination. Then she happened to fall in love with the law intern she was mentoring over the summer, a certain Barack Obama.
As her husband’s political aspirations grew, Michelle became his rock-solid support, sounding board and often, scene-stealer.
She wrote of the frustrating aspects of their relationship in her memoir, Becoming, saying she struggled with being a “working full-time mother with a half-time spouse”.
But you can’t keep women achievers down for long. After years on the campaign trail and fulfilling White House duties, she’s become a celebrated author, producer, public speaker and activist in her own right.