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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Stars on stamps

Some of the couples who made it big on celluloid live on in public memory through postage stamps

‘Marriages are made in Heaven' is an oft-heard phrase. Any marriage in tinsel town has always been viewed with doubts about its longevity. Indian cinema too has had its share of break-ups. The formula for leading men in those days was to marry a simple homemaker, and for the leading lady to marry a successful businessman, preferably from overseas. The woman almost always had to quit her film career post-marriage. There are still successful marriages in tinselville with both partners having scaled heights of professional excellence.

The film industry has been known for its contribution to the Independence Struggle, highlighting social causes such as women's rights and untouchability, and popularising classical music and the arts – it has also contributed to a unique Philatelic Record.

Of the six couples who have been featured on Indian postage stamps, three are from the film industry and the world of Fine Arts. They are from the Hindi, Tamil and Telugu film industries.

Famous actress Devika Rani and her husband, Svetoslav Roerich, who was a famous painter, were honoured with stamps. His father Nicholas Roerich too was honoured with a postage stamp making it a unique family.

Gemini Ganesh and Savithri have received this great honour. In a career spanning 50 years, Gemini Ganesh had acted in more than 200 films in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi. He was affectionately called the ‘King of Romance' (Kadhal Mannan). In her 30 plus years of acting career, Savithri acted in more than 300 films. Known for her portrayal of tragic roles, Savithri has also directed a few films.

Singer, actor, producer, director, music composer Kishore Kumar and his actress wife Madhubala were also featured on stamps. One onscreen couple that rocked India in the 1950s was Raj Kapoor and Nargis Dutt. They too were honoured with stamps. In Nargis' case, the stamp shows the logo of the Spastics Society of India, an institution of which she was the founder-patron.

And there are the non-film couples — Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi; Jawaharlal and Kamala Nehru; and C. D. Deshmukh and Durgabhai Deshmukh.

It's great for an individual to be featured on a postage stamp, and quite rare for a couple to be featured on it.

Ba and Bapu

Since Independence, India has issued around 2,700 stamps, and the Father of the Nation and Kasturba Gandhi have been honoured with stamps, both individually and together. In fact, Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most featured people on stamps and by the most number of countries. The couple adorn both a stamp and a postcard issued by India Post.

Preserved for posterity

From the world of International Cinema, we have the star couple Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh joining the ranks, while the entire Barrymore family, Lionel, Ethel and John, features on a stamp. Alfred and Lynn Fontanne, the famous actor couple, too have been featured. Hollywood comedienne Lucille Ball and her actor-singer husband Desi Arnaz too feature as a couple.

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