By Shreya Sharma Last Updated:
Weddings mark the beginning of a new life for both the bride and the groom. It is a new feeling altogether! Since time immemorial, we have seen women, especially in our own country, leaving their maiden families and settling into their husbands' home. And, they not only leave behind the people they grew up with or the house they lived in but also their surname.
Changing one's name and surname is a very old part of Indian culture. It is so pressed into our minds that we never really paid attention to this practice. But, nowadays, women have started paying close attention to the name-changing tradition. While some of them still like to change their surnames to that of their husband's after marriage, some add their husband's name or surname to their surname. However, quite a number of them have begun to retain their maiden names even after they tie the knot.
Take a look at some of our Bollywood divas, who either kept their maiden surnames intact after their wedding or found another way out, following this tradition.
Vidya Balan, who had gotten married to Siddharth Roy Kapur, just before the release of her film Ghanchakkar, was in the spotlight back then. The media was guessing and waiting with bated breath to see how Vidya would use her name in the credits of the film.
However, in a conversation with the Hindustan Times, when Vidya was asked about the rumours of her changing her name, she had said:
"I don’t know who said that (I am changing my name to Vidya Balan Roy Kapur.) I remain Vidya Balan. I think Sid (Siddharth) and I, both feel that since he will remain Siddharh Roy Kapur and not become Siddharth Balan Roy Kapur, I will remain Vidya Balan and not become Vidya Balan Roy Kapur."
Kalki Koechlin, whose marriage with Anurag Kashyap had ended in a divorce, has always presented her strong views about the issues concerning women. After marriage, she had not even thought of changing her surname as she was not willing to give up on her family name. In an interview with the DNA, when she was called Kalki Kashyap, she had replied:
"No, it’s still ‘Kalki Koechlin. I would never want to let go of Koechlin; that is who I am. Besides, I am the only child, and it is like my family legacy, and I can never give it up."
Well, Kalki is now a mother and has a daughter with her boyfriend, Guy Hershberg. It was on February 7, 2020, when Kalki Koechlin had welcomed a baby girl, whom she has named, Sappho.
Kiran Rao had tied the knot with Mr Perfectionist of Bollywood, Aamir Khan on December 29, 2005. She is known to be the ‘coolest’ celebrity wife in Bollywood, however, she never added her husband's surname, Khan to her name. In an interview with The Times Of India, Kiran had stated that she does not want to be known as 'Mrs Khan'. She had said:
"Kiran Rao Khan, would sound very stylish I am sure. When you grow up, you hear your name and wish you had a superb name too. Kiran Rao is simple but I have never understood how people can change their names. I am comfortable being who I am and so is Aamir. He shares my point of view and understands me really well."
Twinkle Khanna and Akshay Kumar had tied the knot on January 7, 2001. Their wedding was a hush-hush affair in Mumbai at the designer duo friend, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla’s residence. It has been quite a long time that the couple is together and still going strong. Twinkle is also one of those actresses, who didn't change her name after getting hitched.
Twinkle is Mrs Funny Bones and her witty responses are always on point. She is an ardent social media user and had given an amazing reply to a random guy, who had tweeted, "Why Twinkle Khanna u r Kumar got it?" She replied, "A lot of people bring this up, though not as stridently as this gentleman-Khanna it will always be #MarriedNotBranded"
Rekha is one courageous actress, who had not only retained her surname, Gemini Ganesan after her wedding but also continues to wear sindoor and bright coloured kanjeevaram sarees even after the death of her husband, Mukesh Agarwal. This shows the true courage she portrays.
Rani Mukherji is another actress, who never shies away from showing her bold side. Rani had not changed her surname after marrying producer, Aditya Chopra on April 21, 2014. She proudly uses her own surname. During the trailer launch of her film, Mardaani, Rani had shared that she loves her name and will change it when she will admit her kids in school. She had said:
"I love my name and I will keep to that. For my films people know me as Rani Mukerji and they will always know me by that name. Personally, when I admit my children in school that time there will be change of surname. But for my fans it will always remain Rani Mukerji."
Pooja Bhatt is yet another actress, who never gave up on her surname. When asked about the same, in an interview with the DNA, she had said:
“Marriage in this present day and age is a redundant institution. I don’t want your sperm, money or flat so what do I need you for? I only want to be an equal with you, have your companionship and am happy to hold hands without tags. I don’t think there is permanence in marriage today."
Sadly, the couple is divorced.
Konkona Sen Sharma is one actress, who has shown another level of being bold. She was pregnant before marriage but she was never shy to hide this fact. Flaunting her baby bump like a boss, Konkana Sen Sharma never thought of changing her surname after marrying Ranvir Shorey. But their marriage didn’t last long and the couple parted ways legally in August 2020. During the promotional tour of her film, Monsoon Date, Konkona had talked about changing her name after the wedding and had said:
“We should stop changing our surnames after marriage. Just because we have always done it, we don’t have to accept it forever. If we are taking our husband’s name, we are taking it as our last name. Our maiden last name is becoming our middle name. Why go through the hassle of changing our names, passports... And who takes the middle name seriously? And what names are the children getting?”
Former Miss India, Juhi Chawla had gotten married to a businessman, Jay Mehta but didn’t use the surname of her husband. During that time, this concept was very much unique and hence, she wanted to adopt it. The actress never gave any statement regarding the same. (READ: Started Off With Tragedies, Juhi Chawla And Jay Mehta Have Been Happily Married For 23 Years)
Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli had ‘promised each other to be bound in love forever’ on December 11, 2017. On January 11, 2021, Virat and Anushka had gotten blessed with a baby girl, whom they have lovingly named, Vamika. It's been more than three years since their married life had begun, but Anushka never changed her name or added her husband's surname to her name.
Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh had embarked on the journey of love and togetherness on November 14-15, 2018. Deepika's statement in an interview with Filmfare, “Deepika Padukone, wife of Ranveer Singh Padukone” had started conjectures that Ranveer might change his name and add Padukone after Singh. In an interaction with the Hindustan Times, Deepika had opened up on if the couple is planning to change their name and she had said:
"It's not true. In fact, after that interview, I realised that it's a conversation that Ranveer and I have never even had. So, we haven't been like 'oh so do you think you need to change your surname?' That (chat about it in an interview) was, of course, a joke of sorts. It has never crossed either of our minds. When I was asked I was like 'oh, we haven't even thought about it.' Maybe, because it's not important. Also, I've worked extremely hard to create my identity and so has he. So my question is, 'why would he have to do that?'"
Soha Ali Khan and Kunal Kemmu had gotten married on January 25, 2015, in an intimate ceremony in the presence of immediate families and close friends. The couple is blessed with a beautiful angel, whom they have named Inaaya Naumi Kemmu. After her wedding, in an interview with The Times Of India, Soha had talked about how people had started calling her Mrs Kemmu and changing her name. She had said:
"People keep calling me Mrs Kemmu and in my mind Mrs Kemmu is Kunal's mother. Officially I have three names, Soha Sultan is my passport name, some people call me Soha Pataudi, then I am also called Soha Ali Khan. So, Ali Khan Kemmu sounds a li'l long. But it appeals to me, I would like to take it up, I think so!"
However, she never changed her name!
Unlike the ones, who retained their maiden names after marriage, there are a few actresses, who found a middle ground and had added their better halves' family names to theirs.
Immediately after her marriage to Abhishek Bachchan on April 20, 2007, Aishwarya Rai had decided to add Bachchan to her name. She, in fact, had signed her first autograph in Tirupati as Aishwarya Bachchan. However, due to numerological reasons, she had ended up adding her maiden name to it as well.
Before Kareena Kapoor had gotten married, there were rumours that she would convert to Islam, just like the other brides of the Pataudi family. However, she went ahead and had a lovely mixed-culture wedding. After her marriage, when her film, Talaash was released, her name had flashed as Kareena Kapoor in the credits. Everybody had thought that Kareena had decided not to change her surname. But she had surprised everybody by changing her name in the film, Satyagraha to Kareena Kapoor Khan. Kareena had made this decision independently before her wedding. In a conversation with The Times Of India, she had said:
"Saif doesn't want me to change anything about myself, including my name, after marriage. Post-marriage I will be Kareena Kapoor Khan. That means I have the privilege of having two of the most powerful surnames in Bollywood attached to my name."
After her marriage on October 17, 1999, with a cardiovascular surgeon, Dr Sriram Nene, Madhuri Dixit had decided to give up her Bollywood career and had moved to Denver for nearly a decade. She also added her husband, Dr Shriram Nene’s surname to her name.
Sonam Kapoor and Anand Ahuja had taken the saat pheras on May 8, 2019, with a theme called #EverydayPhenomenal. Soon after the wedding, Sonam had added 'Ahuja' to her name and her husband, Anand had added 'S' of Sonam Kapoor to his name. In an interview with the Indian Express, Sonam had commented on her decision of changing her name and had said:
“I have always said that I am a feminist. I have the choice to change my name to what I want to. Kapoor is also my father’s name. So it is a man’s name anyway. I chose to keep both. Anand has also changed his name but nobody wrote about that. I just decided to do it on social media because that’s my platform to say that I have made a choice. It is my personal choice. Nobody put a gun to my head. You should ask him (Anand). He has also changed his name and decided to add something as well.”
Priyanka Chopra had tied the knot with American singer, Nick Jonas on December 1-2, 2018 at Umaid Bhawan Palace. Within 5 days into their wedding, Priyanka Chopra had changed her name to Priyanka Chopra Jonas. On the Barstool Sports’ Chicks In The Office podcast, Priyanka had opened up on her decision of adding her husband's surname and had said:
“I think I never changed my name. Yeah, I added his into mine. You know, and I wanted to sort of honour traditions, but at the same time, I didn’t want to let go of my identity, you know, and this was my in between, I guess. I inherited a beautiful name and I hope to live up to its legacy.”
She had further added that she wasn't forced to make such choice:
"I was never forced into it, it’s just something I wanted to do because that’s how I grew up. Hopefully, in another 50 years, it’ll be guys taking our names too, or just not changing our names, and that’ll be normalized. But I don’t think I was at that place when I got married, I kind of wanted to honour my parents’ tradition and that’s just how it happened."
Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra had tied the knot on November 22, 2009, after dating each other for a few years. Soon after the wedding, Shilpa had added her husband's surname, 'Kundra' to her name and now it's been more than 11 years of their married life and Shilpa is known as Shilpa Shetty Kundra. The actress never spoke about the reason for adding her husband's surname to her name. (Read: Love Story Of Shilpa Shetty And Raj Kundra, From Being His Second Wife To Having Two Kids Together)
This is a very legitimate query, and an eye-opening one too. Given the ‘tricky’ current relationship status of many married couples of B-town, most people wonder what happens to the name game when married couples go separate ways.
Malaika Arora and Arbaaz Khan had met at the shoot of a coffee commercial and had immediately fallen in love. After dating for nearly five years, the couple had tied the knot on December 12, 1998, and had a beautiful wedding. Post-marriage, Malaika had decided to keep her maiden name as well as took up Arbaaz's surname. But things didn't work well between them and they got legally divorced on May 11, 2017, after announcing their separation in March 2016. It was in 2018 that Malaika Arora had dropped 'Khan' from her name.
Sussanne Khan had tied the knot with her boyfriend, Hrithik Roshan on December 20, 2000, and had changed her name to Sussanne Roshan. She had decided to retain the Roshan family name even after the separation in 2013. When she was asked the surname she was planning to use after divorce, she had surprised everybody by saying:
"Sussanne Roshan, of course."
However, later she had subtly dropped 'Roshan' from her name and had started signing it as Sussanne Khan. (Read: Hrithik Roshan And Sussanne Khan's Love Story And Divorce, From First Meet To Their Alleged Affairs)
These were the decisions that some of the most-loved ladies from B-town made after their marriage. You should go ahead and make a choice that you think is best for you. But remember ladies, do not let anyone force you into anything. It's your name, your identity, and only you have the right to decide what it should be.