Tara Narayan throws up some of the emerging dilemmas of live-in relationships in Indian society upmarket or not so upmarket….

WHY isn’t anybody discussing live-in relations and the fall out these days! I thought after the Sushant Singh Rajput-Rhea Chakraborty live-in relationship fiasco which ended in his mystery death someone would throw some light on the charms of live-in relationships amongst the Bollywood upper crust of society in Mumbai. But the silence is deafening. Nobody is discussing it! Live-in relationships. Good, bad, ugly? In the case of the reportedly one-and-a-half year old live-in or love-in relationship of Rhea Chakraborty and Sushant Singh Rajput we learn how deadly it can be!
One may be blinded by love when we consent to live-in relationships but when they don’t end in marriage or fail for whatever reasons who moves out to get on with life? The woman usually if she is living in the man’s home…of course it can be an amicable parting or one full of rancor more often. Some men make a habit of live-in relationships and when they move on they may be very generous in settlement with the woman if they’re moving on. Some of course may take the man to the cleaners with all his entire bank account clean swept (nothing like a woman scorned like Rhea Chakraborty may be)!
IN my time my dears there were no such thing as live-in relationships and love marriages were a novel idea. Generally speaking as soon as daughters were of marriageable age in their early 20s and if a proposal came along if was accepted by the family and it was good enough it was jhat mangni, phat vhya or something like that. Daughters took their cues from their elders in those days and were pretty much obedient. No to a decent marriage proposal was rare.
So there were only arranged marriages or what we later came to call euphemistically, love marriages. Usually these ideas of love marriage were enshrined in fanciful figments of the imagination and they came along with Christian convent education and the reading of romantic fiction a la Mills & Boon! Then came women’s liberation which turned one’s thoughts to yearning for equality in any man-woman relationship although one never knew how that might translate.
THERE was a time in my younger years when I thought marriage was just a live-in relationship for a few years and if one got tired of it one could up and push off whenever it ended! Blame it on a scattered youth with the years of innocence chasing too many dreams of the deceptively good life of a butterfly in search of a garden of paradise…perhaps that’s what so many young liberated women and men think too today regardless of whether they’re rich, famous and fancy free or not.


Say it is the syndrome of the bold and beautiful, wealthy and liberated who can take the chances of checking out the goods before taking their chances in having found the perfect made-for-each other partner in life to grow old with! Of course you may not take the example of the live-in relationship of a Sushant Singh Rajput and Rhea Chakraborty against a Mumbai filmi background where live-in relationships come at a price and may backfire horribly. Live-in relationships may come at a price as we learn in this case at least.
THE question arises: What kind of a woman would live with a man without being married to him? A woman like Rhea Chakraborty obviously! I dare say half of conservative Bihar today is discussing live-in relationships and how their Patna boy Sushant Singh Rajput got snared in the dubious wiles of a half-Bengali, half-Maharashtrian young women Rhea Chakraborty who drove him to suicide?!
Remember the Hindi years of old when only a Meena Kumari could say famously, “Raat khatam, baat khatum!” May be only the “bad” actresses of the silver screen could/can afford to indulge in such nameless or rather various kinds of live-in relationships, they are alive today, dead as the dodo tomorrow when love or rather lust has spent itself and the fresher charms of another partner beckoned. As it is often observed “love” may be both blind and fickle and cases of che sera, che sera fill up the history of the celluloid worlds of films and small screen entertainment in all countries of the world east or west.
Needless to say in India we’re still by and large driven by conservative patriarchal thinking. Study the Sushant-Rhea live-in story and we see as usual it’s the girl who lobbies for marriage while the boy may shy away after having experienced life with her in and out of bed for whatever complex reasons…so many things can go wrong in live-in relationships; as in marital relationships too of course. But the first is always targeted for questioning a woman’s morals in the first place, while the other is so final. Never mind that more and more young people today think it’s easier to enjoy a relationship and let it go without the responsibility and accountability of being married!
As observed before in my times a live-in relationship was unheard of and I don’t think my parents would have entertained me if I indulged in a live-in relationship. Of course the temptations were too few then and most young men with whom one flirted were always game enough to eventually say, let’s get married now. Marriage is an institution which comes with blind trust even if later on it may turn into a horror story!


Most parents even today would go into tizzies of anguish and despair if they had daughters on their hands in their 20s, headstrong and independent and yet unmarried – grooms had to be found and vetted for them, or sometimes if their daughters were highly educated they are expected to do the honors and find their own man to marry in the course of their careers or office-going years. The sooner the better because in the case of a woman her biological clock ticks differently and more quickly. Although do you notice that today’s young generation has no qualms stating firmly, “Marriage and children are not for me, thank-you!”
BUT this is about live-in relationships between two persons of the opposite sex for mutual benefits of whatever kind. In a sense such live-in relationships are not new to India and in fact if I’m not wrong out in Pune in the 1970s when IBM and several call-centers came up a whole lot of young male and female employees found it convenient to co-habit together in what we call the live-in relationship. One such friend who has spent years out in Pune away from her family in Goa assures me, “It was in my 20s and it was okay to live together but such a lifestyle cannot last, either one married or moved back to one’s home state and got married to someone else and had one’s babies…”


Is there happiness after live-in relationship? Sure, she quipped, they’re easily remembered and forgotten providing there’re no breeding grounds for enmity! Most live-in partners do part amicably on a generous note and even stay in touch and meet each other on social occasions.
Remember even in early Hindi cinema years there were the much gossiped about romantic liasions between say a Raj Kapoor and Nargis, and it made for some memorable chemistry on celluloid. Kapoor never left wife Krishna though for a live-in relationship with Nargis, nor to marry her. Over the years we’ve been regaled enough about silver screen actors and actresses and their romantic escapades and it didn’t matter if they were officially married with biwi-bachhe or the perennial lover boys foot loose and fancy free….I can’t think of too many live-in relationships though! Even a Dharmendra married Hema Malini eventually in a second marriage.
There were extramarital relationships and romances galore but they either ended in marriage, divorce, re-marriages and sometimes resulted in situations of entertaining children in yours, mine and ours! Sab chalta hai happily or unhappily. Obviously a lot has changed in tinsel town in recent years with more and more young people with starry dreams in their eyes and in search of fame and fortune seeking roles in films or the small screen television serials produced in big-time entertainment city Bombay which has become Mumbai out of respect for regional chauvinism!
Many are the stories of mindboggling grandeur and glamor and sorry fall from grace, especially when cinema intermingled with political and wealthy business families where everybody fed of each other’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities vis-à-vis profit, power and control. Hey, we’ve heard enough chilling stories of the casting couch making the rounds with ruthless regularity and in which all players have to fend for themselves. Someone pays the price, someone goes Scott free.
If once upon a time it was only alcohol and tobacco ruling the roost of parties, witness today’s merry-go-round of profiteering in drug cartels supplying a cocktail of drugs ranging from the moderately damaging to tragedies like the Sushant Singh Rajput-Rhea Chakraborty kind where good, bad or ugly mingle to fuel business deals. The whole package is sealed in voluntary or involuntary sexual exploitation of young women and men seeking a career in the razzmatazz glamor world of Bollywood. Bollywood scandals there are in plenty with their stories of brief live-in relationships between so and so and so and so and so and so and what happened to them in eventually, what a toll it took on whom, etcetera. It’s the stuff of gossip columnists and filmi literature maybe.
The latest episode is throwing up so much courtesy the cupidity of a charismatic actor and personality like Sushant Singh Rajput and an ambitious starlet Rhea Chakravorty…living life in a make belief king size or queen size matrix. Never imagining where tomorrow may bring them down the fast lane of drug-laced living – until the chips fall and it dawns on the two key players that a live-in relationship can be like a precarious house of cards…it has to come crashing down.
Whether Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide or was killed by a drug cartel operating across political, filmi, business circles, it is there for all of us to learn how hollow live-in relationships can be and how much use and abuse is enshrined in them. Live-in relationships, anyone? Would you like your son or daughter to be in a live-in relationship? The younger generation has to take a call on this! No easy solutions here but permanent problems with how far one is willing to compromise down the road to perdition with its painfully depressing rigmarole of sad events, even sadder cover-ups…and someone has lost his life so needlessly! Justice for Sushant Singh Rajput, please, this is a campaign in we are all involved and culpable if we do even attempt to clean up the Augean stables of Bollywood.

“Bin phere, hum tere…”
What is your take on live-in relationships?

Goan Observer asked around in a quick poll….

entrepreneur, Goa
Live-in relationships? The biggest advantage is the biggest disadvantage. It ruins the prospect of marriage. On other side the bondage of being with each other for the rest of life might get heavy on the heart and this fear is not there in live-in relationships. Trust, trust, trust is one of the most important ingredient of healthy and happy relationships. Commitment to this trust and respect for your partner other important factors, love, attention and communication go a long way with this intention. Intention of the couple to be in live-in relationship may differ and change and the ship may drift away! Inconstancies may also threaten the relationship. It depends on the individuals and how they assess their relationship. Their decision to be or not to be is the choice. In this matter of choice two individuals make one choice to not to be together all the time. The advantage is the choice they make, disadvantage is the other has no choice. It is a matter of conscious acceptance or rejection. It depends on two but one definitely gets affected. There is no guarantee on either. It is the choice.

MALA PATEL, banker, USA A lot of young couples may do these live-in relationships for financial reasons. If they’re in the same city and spending most of their non-working hours together anyways, makes sense to move in with their partners. Most who move in to live together before marriage have been in their relationship for a year or two at least, so moving in together allows them to adjust to each other. Out here in US there is no stigma attached to live-in relationships, but only conservative cultures like that of Indians in the USA cannot accept it. But a lot of parents of my generation are willing to listen to their children’s views on living together. Parents do have reservations, mostly because of what other people in their community may think. The fear is that if you live together and if you don’t marry within a reasonable time, a year or two, you may decide to break up, what then? Say if your daughter is 31 and in a live-in relationship, how does she start over, especially if the couple want children? Nevertheless live-in relationships are very common in the US. Some Indian parents do put their food down and completely won’t accept it. For example, a friend wouldn’t allow her daughter to go in for a live-in relationship. She also put her foot down when her son wanted to live with his girlfriend! There are parents who insist their children marry.
RYAN DE SOUZA, F&B manager, Panaji I think live-in relationship should not happen! I got my values from my parents, they have been married for the last 35 years, the way they met, started out life together, in turn they got their values from their parents…if you see there are more break-ups in these live-in kind of relationships than in the older marriages. I’ve been married for 11 years and very, very happy, no kids yet but we’re happy together. Marriage is once in a life big decision till you depart to eternity. This my parents taught me. Live-in has modern factors and perhaps they think it’s cool but not best thing to do, just to live together for name’s sake, no values! When I made a decision on February 11, 2010 to marry I knew it was not going to be easy, although I had a steady income, I was abroad, I had to come back because of health issues. My wife supported me then and to date. It’s sad if somebody gets in relationship to leave it to choice to keep it going … I believe marriages made in heaven go a long way!

Marketing Executive, Panaji
I’ll tell you advantages of live-in first! By living together you will get to know how much you can understand each other, but in marriages straight away you know how they break up. By living together before marrying you will know there is future or no future…but if you get married straight away for some silly reason like petty fights or disagreements and arguments you will end up in compromise, in marriage compromise is a must. I was in live-in relationship for a year and she came to stay with my family for a year, our parents knew about it…no sex but we got to accept each other good and bad, and she went away to her place afterwards. But we’re still in relationship and will get married soon…but yes, I will still prefer live-in relationship before getting married.

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