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If film couples are doing it, why should television couples be far behind? For every Saif Ali Khan-Kareena Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan-Abhishek Bachchan, there's a Sanjeeda Shaikh-Aamir Ali and Mahi Vij-Jay Bhanushali on television, who endorse products together, make red carpet appearances and dance on reality shows.
"Aamir and I have an individual brand value but as a couple, we are a very strong brand too," says Shaikh, who has been dating Ali for almost five years now. The two have endorsed products such as Ponds and recently shot another ad with director Pradeep Sarkar. They shot into prominence after their sizzling chemistry and great dancing combined with emotional 'I-love-you' moments on Star Plus' Nach Baliye in 2007, led to their victory on the show. After that, they have made several appearances in fiction as well as non-fiction shows together.
Reality television has clearly played a big role in giving young TV couples this commercial edge. Viewer curiosity about them, coupled with constant coverage in the gossip columns of newspapers ensures that they make for great content on reality shows. A case in point — Vij-Bhanusali. Recently, on the sets of Sony TV's Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, Bhanushali was often seen hanging out with Vij, popular for her role as Nakusha on Colors' Laagi Tujhse Lagan, along with his mother. The channel seems to have caught onto this romance, and in almost every episode, Vij blushes at the mere mention of her now-fiance. A TRP boost, for sure. They are the hot new TV couple and often perform together at award ceremonies and stage shows. "As a package deal, we probably earn slightly less money than we would earn on an individual basis. But at least we get to be with each other," says Vij.
One of the newest couples to cash in on this phenomenon is the Uttaran duo Nandesh Sandhu and Rashmi Desai, who tied the knot recently. According to Sandhu, things have changed, for the better, after marriage. "Initially, we both got offers as individuals and as a couple we are one identity. Now we get offers as a couple," says the actor who sells Nu shoes with Desai.
But in this prosaic age, where relationships and marriages break down over questions of who is bringing home the bigger paycheck and who controls the purse of the household, how do they deal with the question of finances? Vij confesses that when it comes to finalising their deals, she leaves the decision-making and finances to Bhanushali. But she seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Almost all these young TV couples insist that, though they love their other halves deeply, when it comes to money matters, there's strict professionalism. Karan Kundra, who is seeing his Kitani Mohabbat Hai co-star Kritika Kamra, says, "I realise that as a couple, people want to see us together everywhere and it's fun because we like each other's company. But it's easier when we manage the money matters on our own and charge individually."
This sentiment is echoed by Sushant Singh Rajput, who is dating his Pavitra Rishta co-star, Ankita Lokhande. "We both manage our finances individually even if we have an offer as a couple," he affirms. The reason, according to Rubina Dialik, who plays Radhika on Zee TV's Chhoti Bahu 2, is that by managing their finances individually, the couple can tread gently over the murky waters of financial independence and privacy. The actress, who is engaged to her co-star Avinash Sachdev, says, "Avinash and I like to maintain that thin line of privacy and if we have an ad offer then I deal with it separately and he does it separately too. For the sake of our relationship and career, we have to maintain this distance."
Clearly then, though these actors may see the world through rose-tinted glasses, they're clear-eyed enough to realise that though love matters, money matters just as much.
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....With her smart black suit!
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