THE BLOG
11/09/2014 01:54 pm ET Updated Jan 09, 2015

The Unbearable Burden of Being Sophie Hunter

By Indian aunty standards, the engagement of a 38-year-old "never married" man should be greeted by nothing other than sheer relief. God be praised, finally, before all our teeth fell out.

However when that 38-year-old is Benedict Cumberbatch, the reaction is one long howl of disbelief heard around the world as ladies everywhere collectively wail "Nooooo". That shriek drowned out even the groans of Democrats in America pulverized in the mid-term polls.

But now that the grim reality of that simple old-fashioned formal announcement in The Times has finally sunk in, Cumberbatch fans everywhere can reflect on what it really means. It's not the end of the world. In fact, while Sophie Hunter might become mother to the Cumber-pups, she's hardly the luckiest girl in the world.

Marrying the modern world's most unlikely sex symbol means Sophie Hunter has just doomed herself to 24x7 inquisition by media. Her looks will be scrutinized with a magnifying glass mostly to find flaws to establish that she's obviously not good enough for the "sexiest man alive". Her every move will be dogged by paparazzi the way Princess Diana was and even more since Shy Di did not have to deal with rampaging social media. If she ever makes the mistake of trying to grab a coffee in sweatpants, without makeup and her hair still tousled from bed, she will be panned, pilloried and her photos shared around the world with cutting and cruel captions. (The same look for Benedict would be just so "unaffected" and "adorable" of course).

Even worse she will be Mrs. Cumberbatch in a world where women everywhere, and some men, will be only too happy to try and seduce her husband.

We have already learned everything about her educational qualifications - she can sing in French, read modern languages at Oxford, has acted in a Dr. Who spin-off and directed some offbeat plays including a puppet version of Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic expedition.

Interesting. Quirky. Intelligent. Not exactly Amal Alamuddin aka Mrs George Clooney - drop dead gorgeous and an internationally renowned human rights lawyer. In that case Amanda Rose on BusinesswomanMedia had memorably quipped that given her qualifications the headlines should have read "Internationally acclaimed barrister Amal Alamuddin marries an actor". But even Alamuddin apparently became ultra-conscious of her waistline after coming into the public eye as Mrs. Clooney, such are the pressures of being reflected in the golden eye of public scrutiny.

Benedict Cumberbatch is not the first heartthrob whose wedding will evoke hysteria. Elvis Presley and Bollywood's own Rajesh Khanna evoked their share of delirium in far less hyper-connected times. And we just went through George Clooney playing the Dream Merchant of Venice at his own nuptials. Clooney of course is a more standard-issue sex symbol with rugged good looks and crinkly eyes and luckily for him he aged very well with the salt-and-pepper hair just adding to his rakish charm.

Benedict Cumberbatch was the unlikely sex symbol, kind of the alternative heart throb who has now become mainstream. He was the "thinking woman's crumpet" and living proof that playing gay characters does not have to ruin your heterosexual appeal. In his case, it just made him so cool, he became even more hot. Or rather it became cool to find Benedict Cumberbatch hot and the world wide web was suddenly swarming with the Yaya sisterhood of self-proclaimed "Cumberbitches."

Cumberbatch himself disarmingly told The Mirror he was mystified by his own sex appeal since he has also been likened to Sid the sloth from Ice Age.

"Do I like being thought of as attractive? I don't know anyone on Earth who doesn't, but I do find it funny. I look in a mirror and I see all the faults I've lived with for 35 years and yet people go kind of nuts for certain things about me. It's not me being humble. I just think it's weird."

Cumberbatch is lucky. His choice of roles has worked for him. He was part of a reinvention of Sherlock Holmes that captured the imagination by its sheer chutzpah and ingenuity. It could have easily flopped because people tend to be very conservative when it comes to beloved icons like Holmes. And since then his apparent lack of starry airs has kept him more "real" and oddly vulnerable compared to many other stars.

In that sense, Cumberbatch seems to have chosen well - a smart intelligent "real" woman, not some fairy tale princess or supermodel. That's probably what makes his wailing fans despair even more. At least a supermodel or even an Amal Alamuddin would have felt outside their league. In comparison Sophie Hunter seems a mere mortal, a slightly upgraded version of themselves, just with an Oxford degree.

But as a more worldly-wise friend pointed out to grieving fangirl, with celebrities the first marriage is never the one that counts. Before Alamuddin, Clooney had Talia Balsam, now long forgotten. We wish the Cumberbatch-Hunter union long life and every success but if the law of film star averages proves anything, every "Cumberbitch" might still have her day.

Another version of this blog appeared on Firstpost.com.