Reaching home after braving evening traffic, made worse by a sudden drizzle in Delhi, I slumped on my sofa thinking of what to get for dinner. As I absent-mindedly scrolled through my Twitter feed, my jaw dropped. Virat and Anushka had gotten married. In Tuscany, Italy – the most romantic place in the most romantic country. It took a minute to sink in as I forgot about my plebeian dinner concerns. After all the speculations and the public romance, chances were ripe. But that it would actually happen and so soon was something none of us would have imagined.
At 29, India’s cricketing sensation and one of Bollywood’s most successful leading ladies got hitched in the most picture perfect setting. Resplendent in their bright floral wedding attires, Virat and Anushka cut a picture straight from our best Bollywood fantasies. While we have grown up on larger-than-life Bollywood romances, we have also grown up to believe they are almost never true. In a world where innocent love rarely culminates in a lifelong association/marriage, where relationships start off as rumours in the media, this was a breath of fresh air. The innocent charm of love hadn’t been lost yet.
As I hungrily scrolled for more pictures of the wedding, I realised I did not have to work too hard to find them – it was all over everyone’s feeds. Media publications competed to break the story, Twitter pundits raced ahead of each other to crack the best wisecracks using the perfect hashtags and fans devoured even the tiniest of details, going on a retweeting spree. In our dull middle class existence, this was the highlight of the day. But what was it about Virat and Anushka that has caught the fancy of the masses? Even the internet troll, who thrives by pulling down the most innocuous of things on social media, was gushing over how cute they looked.
The absence of negativity has been a refreshing change in internet behaviour and makes Virushka an absolute public favourite. For a public that is so vile and unforgiving towards celebrities, this is a rarity. Both Virat and Anushka come from regular middle class families, with no association to the industry they are in. They weren’t born with the silver spoon but they are eating in silver plates now – both of them are self-made individuals with humble backgrounds. And that’s exactly the apsirational dream the middle class looks at as a tangible reality.
Virat was the quintessential bad boy of Indian cricket. With the right kind of aggression on the field, he powered India through many wins and gave us the kind of confidence we never had under the older more gentlemanly team. How the beloved bad boy became the dream lover madly in love with the woman of his dreams is the kind of story we only see on the silver screen or in romance novels. They found love and they didn’t let the high demands of the glamour and success world ruin it for them. It was a match.
When Anushka was blamed for Virat’s poor performance on the field and received backlash from fans, the bad boy of Indian cricket came out defending his ladylove. Holding hands at airports, he steered her through the tough time. In an interview with The Mint, he spoke about how Anushka had taught him how to be a compassionate person. “I have always been fond of animals, but I never had the compassion and love that I feel now, and that’s mainly because of Anushka. She has changed the way I see these things, and the way I think about animals; now I’ve genuinely started feeling this deep love for them,” he said.
He did not hesitate to admit how she had sensitised him to women’s issues and feminism as well. “People are very chauvinistic in this country,” he says. “I certainly wasn’t aware of that growing up, to be honest. But I have started to see myself as a feminist,” he had said.
Virat comes from a regular middle class family in Delhi and rose to the status of a cricket star solely on the basis of hard work and talent. Anushka’s story is not very different. An army kid raised in the city of Bangalore, she started with modelling and later moved on to films, eventually becoming one of the most highly paid actresses of Bollywood. When the two of them came together, it was the perfect middle class dream. It’s the possibility of dreams coming true in the best way possible that has overwhelmed us as a nation. We thrive on the hope of life getting better, either ours or someone else’s.
In their fairytale wedding, the middle class has lived a fantasy by proxy.