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Bollywood’s “star wives” mean business

NEW DELHI: Bollywood wives were once expected to stay loyal, discreet and out of sight, but today they forge influential careers as businesswomen, designers and producers as India embraces celebrity culture.

They appear on magazine covers, present television shows, advertise everything from soap to sofas and increasingly head their own budding money-making empires, claiming their share of the spotlight.

The list of “star wives” in the Mumbai-based film industry is headed by superstar Shah Rukh Khan s wife Gauri Khan, a successful film producer and now an independent entrepreneur who is regarded as a pioneer of the redefined role.

Co-founding the Red Chillies Entertainment production company in 2002 with her husband, she has produced eight films to date, including major blockbusters such as last year s science fiction hit Ra.One.

Khan, 42, has since branched out into interior design, launching her own line of furniture in April in collaboration with another Bollywood wife, Sussanne Roshan, who is married to heartthrob actor Hrithik Roshan.

Roshan, 37, set up an imposing interior design store in Mumbai called The Charcoal Project two years ago.

She admits that she had little interest in working when she got married 12 years ago, but then discovered that she had a taste for competition.

“When I got pregnant, it just gave me a certain clarity about what I wanted to achieve with my life,” Roshan told AFP.

More recently, in a move echoing American lifestyle guru Martha Stewart, she launched The Home Label, an interior decor website selling products endorsed by her.

Adhuna Akhtar, who is married to actor-director Farhan Akhtar, is another high-profile Bollywood wife, working as one of the country s leading hairstylists.

Her success led to her starring in a makeover reality television show earlier this year in which she offered free haircuts and styling advice to young women.

The 44-year-old Akhtar now has 17 high-profile salons scattered across India with plans to open in Dubai.

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