I wrote an article for the Hindu Metroplus dated 25th January.....It was edited from a slightly bigger article , more general and with a fuller world view....here is the total version , for those interested in reading what came in the Hindu - here is that link too -
A COUPLE ON STAMPS.
Marriages are made in Heaven is an oft repeated phrase. With Valentine’s Day round the corner “love is in the air”. Many marriages have stood the test of time and tribulations but more often than not The marriage of a couple from Tinsel Town has always been viewed at with doubts about its longevity. Indian Cinema too has had its fair share of break ups. This problem becomes more acute when both are from The Film Industry. The formula for leading men in those days was to Marry a quiet, simple Homemaker and for the leading lady it was to marry a successful businessman preferably from overseas. What was almost an essential was for the Lady to quit her Profession. I must add that many a film marriage has been quite successful and both have scaled heights of professional excellence.
One of the greatest honours a person can get is when he or she is featured on a Postage Stamp. It is quite a rare occurrence for a Husband and wife to be featured together on a Stamp – Pierre and Madame Curie were on several Stamps , one of the earliest being the French Issue in 1938.
Recently Monaco honoured Baba Amte’s son Dr.Prakash Amte and his wife Dr.Mandakini Amte with a Postage stamp. The Comedienne Lucille Ball and her actor, singer husband Desi Arnaz too feature in a Stamp.
During Royal Weddings , the couple is often featured in Stamps issued to commemorate the occasion. Even the latest wedding of Prince Harry was featured in Stamps issued by UK, New Zealand, Gibraltar. Actress Grace Kelly when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco was also one such.
It has always been a practice till recently by all recognised Philatelic Countries , not to issue Stamps for people who are still alive – Royalty and Heads of State apart. Dictators like Idi Amin had their way , either it was their head on a Stamp or the official’s on the Block.
Since Independence, India has issued around 2700 Stamps and The Father of the Nation and Kasturba Gandhi have been honoured on Stamps both Individually and together. In fact Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most featured people on Stamps by the largest number of Countries. The Couple adorn both a Stamp and a Postcard.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Kamala Nehru too have been issued with Individual Stamps. His daughter Indira and grandsons Sanjay and Rajiv too have been featured on Stamps.
Durgabhai Deshmukh, Freedom Fighter and Social Reformer and her husband C.D.Deshmukh , the first Indian Governor of Reserve Bank of India , have also been featured in Stamps. She was a member of the Constituent assembly while he went on to become the Finance Minister of the Country from 1950 to 1956.
The three other couples so honoured are related to the Film Industry and the world of Arts.
Devika Rani , the famous actress and her Husband Svetoslav Roerich were both honoured with Stamps. He was a famous Painter. His father Nicholas Roerich too has been honoured with a Postage Stamp making it a unique family – Philatelically speaking as well.
Gemini Ganesh and Savithri have received this great honour. In a career spanning 50 Years Gemini had acted in more than 200 films in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and even Hindi. He was affectionately called the King of Romance ( Kadhal Mannan). In her 30 plus years of acting Savithri acted in more than 300 Films. She has also Directed a few Films and was known for her portrayal of tragic roles.
The multi talented Singer, actor Kishore Kumar and his wife Madhubala have both been featured on Stamps.
The one on screen couple that shook India in the 50s was Raj Kapoor and Nargis Dutt. They too have been honoured. In Nargis’s case the stamp shows the logo of the Spastics Society of India, an Institution for which she was the first Patron. Sunil Dutt sending a letter using the Stamp honouring his wife Nargis is truly poignant . Sunil Dutt specifically forbade any such move to honour him and so collectors like me lost a golden opportunity.
From International Cinema we have The Star Couple of Lord Lawrence Olivier and Vivian Leigh joining the ranks while the entire Barrymore family feature in a stamp of the United States. Lionel, Ethel and John , the grandfather of Hollywood actress Drew Barrymore. Alfred and Lynn Fontane , the famous actor couple too have been featured in a Stamp.
With almost half the Indian couples honoured for Professional and Social excellence by a Postage Stamp hailing from the Film Industry , It must lay to rest the adage that “Filmi” marriages do not result in a fair deal for both. All of them truly had the Stamp of a great Couple.