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Successful Partner Or Not, A Woman Can Dare To Be Ambitious

Saba Azad, a multifaceted artist acknowledged for her talents as a singer, actor, and voice-over artist, recently spoke out about the professional damage she suffered as a result of her relationship with Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan.

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Oshi Saxena
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In 2024, we pride ourselves on advocating for feminism and equality. Our films celebrate these ideals, yet in real life, we continue to practice the same biases we claim to reject. Saba Azad, a multifaceted artist acknowledged for her talents as a singer, actor, and voice-over artist, recently spoke out about the professional damage she suffered as a result of her relationship with Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan. Azad's candid confession through social media posts revealed the detrimental effects of patriarchal biases on her career, shedding light on the ongoing and regressive mindset that keeps hindering women's careers.

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Azad, known for her roles in projects like Rocket Boys, has been a dedicated voice-over artist for over fifteen years. Despite her proficiency and experience as a voice-over artist, she was abruptly sidelined, with opportunities dwindling to a standstill. Azad recounted how she went from performing six to seven voice-overs a month to receiving no offers for almost two years. Why? Because a director assumed that her relationship with Hrithik Roshan negated her need for work.

Saba Azad's Experience Spotlights Inequity For Women In High-Profile Relationships

Azad expressed her frustration through a heartfelt post on her social media. She shared an image from a recording studio, captioning it with disbelief over the prolonged hiatus in her voice-over career, "Back in my natural habitat—recording a VO…after more than 2 years!" Azad revealed that she had not received any voice-over work for the past two years. This happened despite her never hiking her fees, she added.

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She linked this dry spell to her relationship with Hrithik Roshan, claiming that a director with whom she usually collaborated felt she no longer required the work because of her association with a successful actor.  Azad did not specify the name of the director with whom she had a regular working relationship, but she did say that his response surprised her, “Well, you can imagine what was implied... He didn’t think I would do a job like a VO given where you are in life, i.e., who I am dating.” She also calls him a ‘super progressive, chill’ person.

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She continued, “Are we really still living in the dark ages where we assume a woman in a relationship with a successful partner no longer has to put food on her own table?? Or pay her rent and bills? or take pride in her work and take care of herself and her family??? What kind of archaic assumption to make?”

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“So I basically lost a whole career that I absolutely loved and appreciated because people thought I didn't need to work anymore??? This is sadly a one dimensional patriarchal and regressive mindset,” she wrote.

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 When she reached out to a director to understand the sudden decline in opportunities, she was told, "Oh, we just thought you wouldn't like to do something like a voice-over anymore." 

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She concluded, “For the uninitiated, when two strong, independent individuals come together, they don't give up their identities or their lives and careers to do so. They hold on to their individuality and share from a place of freedom and strength. Losing a whole career because of someone else's presumptuous ignorance really hurts. So again, no, I haven't quit, All ye makers of ads—I still do VOs. So pls for the love of God, undo your assumptions and let's get recording already.”

Azad's experience is not an isolated incident but a reflection of broader systemic issues that many women face. The assumption that women, especially those in relationships with high-profile individuals, do not need to work. Azad's career includes notable performances in films such as ‘Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge’, and acclaimed series like ‘Rocket Boys’ and ‘Who’s Your Gynac’. Her professional achievements, however, were overshadowed by assumptions about her personal life. 

The Link Between A Woman's Worth And A Man's Success

A woman's identity and worth are often unfairly linked to her partner's fame and bank balance. This was evident when Azad lost job opportunities because industry professionals assumed she no longer needed them. Why do we continue to assume that a woman's primary goal is to be with a successful man? Azad's financial independence, built through years of hard work, should not be questioned simply because of her personal relationship. This bias not only affects individual careers but also promotes a culture that undervalues women's contributions and potential.

Azad's experience challenges this notion, questioning why women are still judged and limited by their relationships rather than celebrated for their individual talents and achievements. She aptly questioned, "Are we truly living in an era where a woman's own ambitions and career aspirations are overshadowed by assumptions about her partner?"

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Azad had to urge industry professionals to recognize and respect women's professional capabilities and ambitions, irrespective of their personal lives. This need for validation and respect is baffling in an era where we claim to uphold the principles of feminism and equality. It is a clear example of not practising what we preach.

Since making their relationship public, Azad and Roshan have been open about their affection for each other. Despite this modern, supportive relationship, where both partners maintain their individual careers and identities, Azad has faced relentless trolling. Comment sections brim with hateful remarks and unsolicited opinions, focusing not on her achievements but rather on her association with a more famous partner. Roshan's comment sections are also filled with criticisms about their age gap and disapproval of their pairing.

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Recently, she received unsolicited messages, especially after her recent performance at Lakme Fashion Week in Delhi. While some fans praised her dance moves, others sent derogatory comments. Azad responded to these trolls on Instagram, showcasing the strength she needs to face daily. When a user questioned her sanity for dating Roshan, she retorted with a bold message about hope and perseverance despite the constant hate.

No matter what Azad achieves, she is often regarded as "Roshan's plus one." Her choices and accomplishments are overshadowed by her relationship. The biggest challenge she faces is being judged for dating a famous man, a burden that diminishes her individual achievements and identity. The disparity between what we preach and what we practice is alarming, as evidenced by the treatment Azad receives merely for daring to be both successful and in a public relationship.

When will we learn that two partners come together by choice to enhance each other's lives while maintaining their individual selves? Relationships should not erase one's identity or professional aspirations. We must dismantle the patriarchal assumptions that limit women's opportunities and reinforce outdated gender roles.

It’s high time we acknowledge that a woman’s partnership does not define her. Her achievements, choices, and aspirations are her own and should be celebrated on their merit. Azad's story calls for a shift in mindset— one that values women for their talents and contributions without reducing them to mere extensions of their partners.

Azad is content doing what she does and is on a mission to challenge the status quo and push for a society in which women are seen and valued for who they are, not who they are partnered with.

Views expressed are the author's own. 

Saba Azad Hrithik Roshan relationship
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