May 8, 2010

Mums, listen to your kids: Kajol

Bollywood has some and then a few more. Yummy mummies, we mean. But we chose the lovely actress Kajol to be TOI’s guest editor for this special Mother’s Day issue.

Not because she’s acting in Karan Johar’s Stepmom that will release later this year. But because she’s the only actress who twice in her hugely successful career has unselfishly stepped back from the top to gladly accept motherhood.

The first time after daughter Nysa, Kajol returned in 2006 to win the Filmfare Best Actress Award for Fanaa opposite Aamir Khan. Then this year, just after another stunning performance in My Name Is Khan with her favourite co-star Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol completed Stepmom and settled down to her second baby. It must take some doing. The actress, however, dismissed the putting-career-on-hold and making-a-comeback theory with a toss of her auburn hair.

“Your career is part of your life, your family is part of your life, and your whole life — your personality — is made of every part put together. It’s upto you to strike the right balance,” she said. “I learned from example. My own mother (the actress Tanuja) always put her family first. Even when she was working, we were her top priority, she gave us quality time — when she was there, she was with us 120 per cent. I’m lucky to have had her. And I hope to be like her...”

She’s glowing with the early stages of pregnancy, and she’s comfortable with her condition, she made no fuss about the great commute from her home to our office in peak summertime to take the chair for this issue. Dressed casually in a loose white top and black trousers, feet encased in soft slippers, she slipped into the role emphatically... brown eyes flashing with expression, fists thumping the table to make a point. When coffee and sandwiches were placed before her, Kajol’s face lit up. “I’m so pregrant, aren’t I,” she giggled.

She was unhappy with Mother’s Day, per se. “Mothers are fab and kids bring out the best in women,” she said, “but you can’t relegate your relationship with your mother to just one day in a year. For a child, the mother is God... the mother has the same responsibility to her child as God has to the world. And just as you wake up each morning and worship God whether you’re 14 or 40, you should respect your mother... even when you are grown up, in complete control of your life and are probably looking after her.”

And she had a word of caution for troubled mothers in today’s society of suicidal children: “They should listen to their kids... a mother’s gift to her kid should be the power of speech. Don’t be impatient. Don’t close yourself to your child by expecting her/him to be what you want them to be. Your message to them should be, ‘I love you for what you are and will support you whether you pass or fail your exams.’ Mothers should also stop to consider what they would do if their kid was suddenly taken away from them today. I would die! Compared to that, you can make make every situation work...”

There were more tidbits from this mother and mother-to-be even while she discussed work (“I’m a nice boring person, you won’t get gossip on me!”), babies, motherhood, growing up, families (“they teach you and make you who you are”), the need to discipline kids (“spanking is not bad as a means to get attention... it’s not the punishment, that’s much worse, and devious”) and pregnancy itself (“don’t become a mother unless you’re ready, don’t let this decision be thrust on you, because then everybody will suffer... especially your child”).

Plus, a final word of advice to mothers: “Advice itself is bad, don’t be weighed down by what society says your kid ought to be doing, rely on your own instincts and decisions. As a mother, you know what’s best for your kid, by learning, by instinct, by habit... And, practise what you preach. Your kid learns by watching you. In future, your child takes reference from you.” We had just one question for Kajol, did she subscribe to the public opinion that she was Bollywood’s yummy mummy? “Absolutely,” she declared, giving the Kuch Kuch Hota Hai smile, “I was yummy even before I had my baby!”