He hails from the royal family of Gwalior, and she’s a scion of the Sandur blue-blooded clan. The charming Akshay Bhansali and Krutika Ghorpade Bhansali, who’ve been married for five years now, encapsulate a narrative that borders on history and legendary families coming together.
This is a marriage equal in all respects, be it their royal status, their professional lives, or their responsibilities towards their three-year-old daughter, Annika Devi. The Scindia family has a history with both pre and post-independence India. Akshay’s mother, Yashodhara Raje Scindia is a two-time MP from Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh and also the youngest daughter of Jiwajirao Scindia, the former Maharaja of Gwalior, and the late Vijaya Raje Scindia. Akshay’s father, Dr Siddharth Bhansali, on the other hand, is a cardiologist from a prominent family of Palitana in Gujarat, the son of famed cardiologist Dr Kirtilal Bhansali.
“My mum met my father at Mahalaxmi Racecourse in Mumbai in the early 70s. They both love equestrian sports. My dad was a jockey; he must have been quite the sight up there on the horse! My mother was also quite an accomplished horsewoman. They met, and the rest is history!” shares Akshay.
Krutika, too, comes from royal blood — her father Kartikeya Raje Ghorpade hails from the royal family of Sandur, while her mother Ambika Ghorpade is the daughter of Rajkumari Sushiladevi of Jasdan, Gujarat.
Armed with their heart-warming chemistry — Akshay reaches out to Krutika time and again for wardrobe checks — the couple are dressed to the nines for this special shoot with HELLO!, a far cry from their go-to casual personal style. There’s an easy camaraderie and warmth in Krutika’s parental home in Bengaluru, where they play fabulous hosts to HELLO!, regaling us with tales of how they met, their amusing ‘proposal’, their wedding shenanigans and more!
HELLO!: Akshay, your family has a strong history in politics. Can you throw some light on this?
Akshay Bhansali: My great-great-grandfather, Jayajirao Scindia, was the ruling Maharaja of Gwalior under the British. My late grandmother Vijaya Raje Scindia followed her heart and played an integral role in the Sangh, shaping and financing the modern-day Bharatiya Janata Party in the spirit of helping people. And this continues into the subsequent generation. We lost my uncle Madhavrao Scindia tragically before he reached his full potential. His son Jyotiraditya Scindia is willing to fulfill his vision. Then there’s my mother, who’s been compelled to contribute like her mother did for the past 30 to 40 years.
H!: Do you see yourself joining politics?
AB: The way I see it, I’d be so lucky if I did. There’s a lot of discussion out there right now about politics being a family business. One has to be careful about the optics of things. When we get together as a family, we have impassioned discussions in good spirit. It’s a high-stakes game. When we get together, we like to leave the office talk in the office (chuckles). We wait for my mum and her two sisters to come together; they regale us about their royal past. We feel proud about our background and cherish it.
H!: Tell us a little about your early life.
AB: My father moved to the US in the 70s, where he was inspired by his dad to also become a doctor. After their wedding, they raised three kids — my brother, sister and I — in the US. We’d all come down to India every year to visit Mumbai, Delhi and Gwalior, and since my marriage, I visit Bengaluru, too.
Krutika Ghorpade: My sister and I grew up in Sandur and went to a school that was started by my father and his brother there, as there was no school in the region at the time. We studied there till Class 6 and soon moved to Bengaluru. I also went to Jain International Residential School for a year, but boarding school was not for me as I was used to a protected environment. I cried to my parents over the phone every day, but they talked me into slugging it out for at least a year. Then my sister and I shifted to Delhi Public School, followed by Mallya Aditi International School in Bengaluru. I soon moved to London for my undergraduate studies in economics and management from Royal Holloway, under the University of London.
H!: What do you do professionally?
AB: After graduating from NYU, I worked for a decade with MTV as a producer. I now run my own brand content advertising agency called We Are Not Pilgrims, the idea being that people who came to America were settlers, but we aren’t settlers in our art, and hence, not pilgrims. Currently, our feature-length documentary, NYC Point Gods, on the enduring impact of the New York City Point Guards who honed their craft in the city’s playgrounds, is airing on an American channel. It’s Bruno, a short comedy series, aired on Netflix and was nominated for an Emmy. As far as Bollywood collabs are concerned, I do have my Holy Grail of family-related stories that I plan to pitch. They are within the realm of family storytelling, so let’s see where it goes…
KG: I’m currently going with the flow. My daughter is too young and needs my attention right now.
H!: How did the two of you meet?
AB: I was invited to an extended family member’s birthday party in Goa. My mother could not make it, so I went on her behalf. I had not met this wing of my family, so it was a whirlwind of an evening — and then I noticed Krutika. We spoke briefly, and I was charmed by her smile and how she interacted. I remember getting into the car and asking my cousin who she was. Soon, I dropped her a ‘Hello’ on Facebook and began to occasionally like or comment on her pictures. When I was visiting Bengaluru, I asked her whether she’d like to catch up. I was 35; she was 25. We knew within a few meetings that this was it. We caught up in London and New York, as well, and then our families exchanged pleasantries and decided to give us space to get to know each other.
She next invited me to visit her family plantation in Chikmagalur; I was unsure until I spoke to my dad. It was then that I knew she was the one for me. By the end of the Chikmagalur trip, I had a chat with her father and was invited to join the family with open arms. I couldn’t be luckier.
KG: Akshay was actually invited to the party to be introduced to my older cousin. I was more like her wing woman at this party and had made myself available to be of any assistance to her. But it didn’t work out. Later, Akshay told me he was impressed by how I was working so hard to help my cousin. Sometime later, he sent me requests on Instagram and Facebook and asked to meet me when he was visiting Bengaluru. And that’s when it hit me that he was interested in me! I did have my initial apprehensions as he’s 10 years older than me, but when we met again in New York when I was on a holiday there, I realised he’s very easygoing, young at heart and gets along with everyone. I think we met around four to five times through that year, and by the sixth time, we were married!
H!: What was the proposal like?
KG: Technically, there was no proposal. The defining moment was when our mothers met. It was meant to be a meet and greet among the parents. They were travelling in the car ahead of us. We were heading to his mum’s place in Delhi, when someone told us “Yes, they’ve decided. This is your engagement date.” We didn’t have that conversation; the parents did!
H!: You had a magical wedding that went on for 12 days…
AB: It was a dream! The wedding took place at Taj West End, Bengaluru. Around 35 American friends came down for our nuptials. There were gatherings in Mumbai, Delhi, Dholpur and Gwalior. We showed them the fort, and the function was at Taj Usha Kiran Palace in Gwalior.
KG: It was a fun wedding! I wish I were a guest at it because most of his friends from the US were travelling to India for the first time. They got to experience this big, fat Indian wedding, with a tour of almost the entire country. We got married in Bengaluru and then we went to Mumbai, followed by Delhi, Agra to see the Taj Mahal, and then Dholpur, where his cousin lives. It was magical.
H!: Krutika, how has life been post marriage in New York?
KG: Initially, it really was quite overwhelming because Akshay had a tiny bachelor pad, just around 400sqft. When I landed there, I had two suitcases full of clothes. Poor Akshay had sweetly emptied parts of his closet so I could unpack. We stayed there for five to six months. It was hectic but a lot of fun — even though we had no personal space!
But now, we live in a nice home in Brooklyn and have a child. We manage her by ourselves. She used to go to preschool for 2 to 3 hours, but this month onwards, she’ll begin full-day school from 9am to 3pm. She gets spoiled in India, but in New York, she becomes more independent. Akshay is not a typical Indian husband; he does the cleaning and helps with everything. In fact, I learned to cook only after marriage. I used to FaceTime my grandmother even to maken scrambled eggs. But now, I can cook everything!
H!: How has your journey been so far, with marriage and a child in the big city?
AB: The journey’s been quite an adventure that’s primarily had its ups and moments where we learned about teamwork. We’re a happy couple. She makes me laugh. When our daughter Annika Devi was born in 2019, it made us a whole lot better. When she’s in India, she speaks Kannada and Marathi and enjoys local snacks. But when we return to NYC, she’s back to speaking “Mommy and Daddy” with an American accent. She’s an easy child, and we’ve travelled together to the Bahamas, New Orleans and Miami.
KG: It’s been five years! We’re more like good friends than husband and wife. The pregnancy happened organically. He was 40, and the timing felt right. Then Covid happened, and the baby was the best excuse to stay home. I had an easy pregnancy. Sometimes, I’d even forget I was pregnant! The first time it hit me was when someone offered me their seat on a subway in NYC. That’s when I was reminded that I was six or seven months pregnant. But I was quite comfortable till childbirth.
H!: Akshay, where do you see yourself in five years?
AB: The sky’s the limit! Blessed with my family background and given the steps I’ve taken… But it’s too early to tell. I’m in a happy, privileged place and look ahead with positivity.
Photography: Lucky Malhotra; Junior Stylist: Anushree Sardesai; Fashion; Coordination: Nayare Ali; Wardrobe Courtesy: Manoviraj Khosla For Akshay Bhansali; Jyoti Sachdev Iyer And Tasuvere For Ffolio, For Krutika Ghorpade; Hair: Manjula Jagan; Makeup: Bhavana Prashanth
This has been adapted for the web from a story originally published in the September 2022 issue of HELLO! India. Get our copy of the latest issue right here!