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India's cougar couples: When a man loves an older woman

India's cougar couples: When a man loves an older woman

Somebody has very rightly said love knows no age. At a time when the dynamics of marriage are changing rapidly and youngsters are experimenting with their lives, "cougar" relationship is a new phrase catching up among them.

The term cougar refers to a relationship where a woman is romantically involved with a much younger man and it was the theme of the 2009 superhit film "Wake Up Sid". Audiences loved watching Ranbir Kapoor falling in love with the older Konkona Sen Sharma and even thronged the theatres for it.

"This trend is not so uncommon in India. It has been around for some time now. And, yes, Indian sensibilities are not in conflict with such relationships," psychiatrist Sanjay Chugh told IANS.

"The phenomenon, whether people like it or not, is increasingly coming out in the open. In the past too, such relationships existed but were not talked about too much," he added.

Way back in 1967, Hollywood came out with its well-known classic "The Graduate", where Anne Bancroft, an older woman, seduces a much younger man, played by Dustin Hoffman.

And such experiments were not restricted to the celluloid.

Quite a few Hollywood celebrities have had successful "cougar" marriages and the recent example is Demi Moore who has enjoyed marital bliss with 15-year younger actor Ashton Kutcher.

Other such couples are Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins (12-year age gap), Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon (10-year age gap).

Even pop diva Madonna, known for her experimental looks, tried it when she tied the knot with 10-year younger Guy Ritchie. But they separated two years ago.

In India, the most publicised cougar couple was Saif Ali Khan who married Amrita Singh way back in 1991. She was 12 years older to him. Their marriage had raised a lot of eyebrows, with people questioning the compatibility and the big age-gap, but it lasted a good 12 years. In 2004 they got divorced.

Samir Parikh, a consultant psychiatrist at Max Healthcare, says anything unusual is bound to get attention.

"Anything which is slightly different raises eyebrows for a while. This happens more so with celebrities because they are so much in the public glare and the reactions are all the more manifest," Parikh told IANS.

Even master blaster Sachin Tendulkar's wife Anjali Tendulkar is five years older to him whereas Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala has married seven years younger Samrat Dahal and choreographer-turned-director Farah Khan exchanged vows with eight-year younger Shirish Kunder.

According to Chugh, if one looks at the Indian value system closely, it emphasises on making a relationship work and not so much on the peripherals.

The age difference of a year or two doesn't even qualify for the term "cougar", and there are many examples of such couples in the Hindi film industry - Bollywood actors like Aishwarya Rai and Shilpa Shetty have respectively married Abhishek Bachchan and Raj Kundra who are two years younger to them. Even legendary actress Nargis was a year older to her actor husband Sunil Dutt.

Sometimes such marriages are seen by society as an attempt by a woman to have some fun in her life or by someone who wants to tame her partner and can do so by marrying a younger man.

This psyche was beautifully portrayed by director Ajay Sinha in the popular television serial "Astitva - Ek Prem Kahani", about a young photographer marrying a doctor who's 10 years older to him.

Chugh said: "Just as a woman would look for a father figure or fulfil her needs for protection in an older man, a man would look for a mother figure or fulfil his needs for tender care and love in an older woman."

Moreover, a drastic shift in the financial status has made today's women independent and they enjoy the power to pick and choose their partners without worrying about age, money and caste.

"Women today, just like the men, are experimenting and are also sure enough of themselves to take such chances. In this whole discussion, we must not make it a feminist thing as it is as much a woman's choice as a man's. The younger man is also, at the same time, taking the decision to marry an older woman," said Chugh.





 16 Replies

N.K.Assumi (Advocate)     09 December 2010

Thanks for the Information. Better hear the song of Lionel Richie and Enrique Iglesia "To Love a Woman" Its also happening with young teen age girl falling in Love with a maried man with children. A Brave New world indeed.

Gopal Singh ( Advocate)     09 December 2010

I think it seems to be a problem of symbol status.Envolvement in cougar relationship demonstrates eagerness towards s*x and money and nothing more.

B.S. CHHABRA, (Advocate)     09 December 2010

If any cauger man has been cheated by older woman he will be legally helped by me on , that is , what my duty is.

B.S. CHHABRA, (Advocate)     09 December 2010

And if a caugar woman is cheated by young man it is very sad and I will help her to the utmost possible to establish her legal rights over the young man who might be having eye on the prooerty of the caugar woman.  

Bhartiya No. 1 (Nationalist)     09 December 2010

Britain Ex-PM Margret Thatcher, too had married, almost 20yr younger man.


Aged Arab sheikhs marry 12 to 13 yr old girl.

N.K.Assumi (Advocate)     10 December 2010

Thank you Ashutosh, for the information.

N.K.Assumi (Advocate)     10 December 2010

But Chhabra, if they get married their property will be dtermined by Law but in majority of such cases are that they dont hang on together as they will only meet and do things and get seperated and may be they will talk over phone and meet again and again. Its just a Mistress or Concubine.

Renuka Gupta ( Gender Researcher )     10 December 2010


Grand Patriarchs! Keep talking sh*t about women...your abuses will not even touch them...

Who has laid down the rules that an older woman can't fall in love with younger man, or a younger man can't with  older woman? 

My own personal friends have violated such stupid age restrictions and are living happy married life. 

I do not see anything wrong if a couple does not respect a cultural norm : man older and woman younger in a live in or married relationship. 

Assumiji, I was happy and relieved when for sometime you stopped calling women whore and such names which you previously used to generously. Especially in Lawyers Club, lawyers themselves have to maintain a decorum which you are not when you address women as whores and concubines. 


 ...... it is as much a woman's choice as a man's. The younger man is also, at the same time, taking the decision to marry an older woman," said Chugh.



@Renuka Gupta

I agree with you.

N.K.Assumi (Advocate)     11 December 2010

Dear Renuka, I am not condeming the Women but only their action, as Mahatma Gandhi said Hate the Sin not the sinners right?

Renuka Gupta ( Gender Researcher )     11 December 2010

Dear Assumiji,

With due respect to you, I would point out that Gandhiji would have condemned the use of abusive words for any living creature on earth. 

In this particular topic, there was nothing to be judgmental. You know it better than me, being a responsible advocate. 

I still hope that yo would refrain from using such derogatory adjective for women and just describe their actions. In this particular topic, it is a matter of choice both of men and women. So I would condemn any abuse hurled towards either men or women. 

My suggestions to you, you can take positively or you can react in worst possible way. With my respect to some of your other postings, I I hope you do the former. 


N.K.Assumi (Advocate)     11 December 2010

Ok Renuka, I take back those expression if you think of being vulgar and abusive. It's really nice knowing you and being women activist. Nice to have some one like you in thr forum.

1 Like

Renuka Gupta ( Gender Researcher )     11 December 2010

Assumi ji, I am humbled by your disarming response! 

Many thanks....

DEFENSE ADVOCATE.-firmaction@g (POWER OF DEFENSE IS IMMENSE )     11 December 2010


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