65-year-old singer Anup Jalota - revered for his devotional songs - has shocked everyone by entering the Bigg Boss house with his 28-year-old girlfriend Jasleen Matharu. It was at the show that the two acknowledged their relationship for the first time in public. However, the age gap between the two didn't go down well with the conservative Indian audience, and the effect could be felt on social media where netizens had a field day with the couple.
The trolling on social media has also brought Jalota's past love life under the spotlight. And as it turns out, the singer has quite a story to tell.
The Bhajan Samrat (Emperor of Devotional Songs, a title bestowed on him) has married thrice.
His first marriage was with a girl from Gujarat named Sonali Sheth, against the wishes of his family. Anup had eloped with Sonali just days before he was about to marry a girl his parent's had selected for him.
But the very next year, Sonali ran away with his own accompanist, a tabla player called Roopkumar Rathod. Roopkumar and Sonali Rathod soon settled down as a celebrity couple with a rich cultural identity of their own.
Anup's second marriage was an arranged one to Bina Bhatia, which too didn't last long and ended in divorce.
The singer's third attempt at marital bliss came when he met an aristocratic Punjabi Medha Gujral, former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral’s niece. It was Medha's second marriage. Her earlier high-profile wedding to international filmmaker Shekhar Kapur had come apart, and their marriage was formally ended in a court in New Delhi in December 1994.
A book by Bharathi S. Pradhan - The Inspirational Story of Medha Anup Jalota gives a detailed account of how Anup and Medha came together.
“Our meeting was a beautiful story,” Anup smiled beatifically, as he narrated how he had met and wooed wife No. 3. Neelam, wife of late actor Joy Mukherjee, played Cupid.
“Joy Mukherjee and his wife Neelam were good friends of mine. One evening, Neelam had come over and after dinner we were chatting when she told me that she went for regular walks with Medha, Shekhar Kapur’s wife. I said, ‘Oh, I also know her, she had come over to my place one day with Pandit Jasraj’s group. How is she?’ Neelam mentioned to me that Medha was single now. And instantly something inexplicable happened… a bell went off within me, something fell into place. I asked Neelam for Medha’s number and at 11 that night, I called her up. Medha sounded angry. She must have thought, ‘Who does this guy think he is, calling me up at night like this?’ I told her that Neelam had come over for dinner and then out of the blue, I asked her, ‘Will you come for lunch tomorrow?’ She heard that, grew angrier and demanded why on earth she should do that. I said, ‘Just like that, for no particular reason.’
“In the morning, I called her up again and said, ‘Coming, aren’t you?’ And she agreed! I sent her the car, she arrived around 1pm… We talked for the next two-and-a-half hours. I didn’t give her lunch. We just talked and talked and at 3.30pm I proposed to her. That must have convinced her that I was a complete lunatic.”
It was rather dramatic too. “Just as I proposed to her, there was a thunderstorm and heavy winds, the windows were rattling and there was a rumbling sound. The first monsoon rain was lashing Mumbai. I told her, ‘See, even nature is with us. You can’t say no.’ She said, ‘Let me think, khaana toh khilao, where’s my lunch?’” Anup wisecracked, “I had kept her starving so that she would be too weak to resist my proposal.
“She left after lunch. I began to call her up frequently but in vain. She must have checked up on me. My reputation in the marriage market was very bad and some fellow singers had also delighted in maligning me…
“Fifteen days later, I phoned her from Kolkata and asked her, ‘What have you decided?’ To my utter delight, she said, ‘Yes.’ I remember I burst into tears, I cried like a baby. After my programme, I came back to Mumbai and from the airport went straight to Medha’s house in Versova. I put her in my car, brought her home and introduced her to my parents as their new daughter-in-law. We had a meal together before I went to drop her off at her place. After that I didn’t return to my house for several months. In fact, I returned home only after one year.”
Anup and Medha gave birth to a baby boy in 1996 and named him Aryaman. Unfortunately, Medha died on November 25, 2014 at a hospital in New York City of liver failure following a second heart and first kidney transplant.
Cut to 2018, the singer seems to have found love again in his student Jasleen. However, he clarified on Bigg Boss by saying “There is no affair or love. If I fall in love, I will tell you. She is my student, and we share a beautiful equation of music.”