This Mother’s Day, new-age Bollywood star moms talk about the equation they share with their famous offspring, taking a liberal stance with their careers, and how their kids are a lot like them
Q. How do you feel Bollywood mothers have changed over the years? Earlier, they would accompany their actress daughters on the sets. Star moms were ridiculed and made fun of. They never let their actress daughters step away from their watchful eyes...
Shivangi Kapoor: These days there are wonderful managers. They are mothers to our children.
Soni Razdan: I think these days kids are very well managed.
Shivangi: There were times when mothers would even order Chinese food for their babies.
Soni: Or a salad, not realising that there are so many pressures to look in a certain way. I think it’s more out of a necessity, than to be a difficult person. I send everything from home for Alia (Bhatt), so she doesn’t face any issues.
Ayesha Shroff: I have never tagged along with Tiger. Also, my husband (Jackie Shroff) has been in the business for long — I know it’s a job. Tiger is a disciplined kid and knows how to take care of himself.
Zarina Wahab: Things have changed a lot, they don’t want to take anybody along from the family. Also, kids these days are so intelligent and independent, they don’t depend on anybody. In our times, we used to listen. My mother never came with me on the sets, but my sister did.
Shivangi Kapoor and Soni Razdan click a selfie Pic/Rane Ashish
Q. There was a time when star mums used to be permanent fixtures on the sets...
Shivangi: Mothers were supposed to be a pain on the sets.
Soni: I think what has changed is that we don’t go with our daughters on the sets to begin with. The only reason I went with Alia was because she was only 17. Karan Johar requested me to be with her, otherwise I would not have gone. As an actor, I would have hated my mother on the sets. If you have your mother watching you, there is no way you can do what you are supposed to do.
Zarina: My daughter Sana initially wanted to act, but I never went with her. Then she realised that acting is not her cup of tea and focused on other things.
From left: Zarina Wahab, Shivangi Kapoor, Soni Razdan and Ayesha Shroff, Pic/ Rane Ashish
Q. It’s funny because in any other profession you wouldn’t see mothers tagging along.
Ayesha: Exactly. Had Tiger been a banker, I wouldn’t have tagged along with him to the bank.
Soni: Those days it was the big, bad world. Apparently everybody was dying to jump into your bed. Everything has changed, the whole atmosphere has changed.
Shivangi: For sure it has. Kids today are so independent and you know they can manage themselves really well .
Soni: There was this feeling of the big, bad wolf in the industry — either the producer or the director — who wanted to get you in his lair. But our daughters were lucky enough to get banners where such issues didn’t even arise. I am not saying things have changed completely. Of course they haven’t, everybody knows this.
Shivangi: May be at that time the mothers would go to protect their children because it was that big bad world.
Soni: That was the quintessential image of the world and they literally had to chaperone their daughters.
Zarina: I had told Sooraj that if he went to Hyderabad for a shoot, then I would accompany him because I have a house there. I love spending time there. Not that I don’t go otherwise, but it would be one more excuse to spend quality time with Sooraj.
Q. The star moms had a much bigger role to play earlier...
Soni: The producer and director had to discuss everything with the mother. The manager was just like a point person, now things are different. My daughter doesn’t come and tell me what is under discussion. She comes and tells me when they are finalised.
Shivangi: And of course the kind of trust we have in our kids.
Ayesha: Tiger takes his decisions with his team and discusses with us later. I trust his choices.
Zarina: Sooraj is just starting his journey. He has gone through a lot, but I am glad things are now happening. I take care of him as a normal mother, but decisions about career are taken by him and the people whom he looks up to like Salman Khan and Nikhil Advani.
Q. Would you want to play a bigger role?
Shivangi: I do music therapy with Shraddha and I teach her music.
Ayesha: Being Tiger’s mother is the best role I play. He is a grown up man and capable of taking his own decisions. His head is on his shoulders. He needs to have a professional team around him and more than me his father’s opinion matters to him because he is a big personality himself. Tiger’s face lights up when Jackie appreciates his work. In today's day and age things have changed and the kids are more smart and intelligent.
Zarina: I am happy with the role I play in Sooraj’s life right now. I see to it that he only has to concentrate on his acting with everything else taken care of.
Q. Do you get involved in their career decisions?
Shivangi: No, I am not good at that. I don’t think I made good decisions. Music is what I guide Shraddha in. Music therapy is something that I keep doing with my son (Siddhanth) who is a DJ. He is totally into music though he is concentrating on acting too.
Ayesha: I think as far as career is concerned, the decisions are his alone with his managers. He does discuss with us though, but we don’t tell him to work with this person and do this or that film. He has a good gut instinct and he is honest with his work also. I don’t think he will go wrong... God willing... with the hard work he puts in.
Zarina: He has not spoken to me about a single frame he has shot for, he has always been like that. I don’t want to be that mother who goes on the sets all the time. There were so many times they asked me to come, but I didn’t go.
Q. What is your role in the careers of you kids right now?
Soni: I think right now I am just providing a support system to Alia, physical as well as emotional I would like to think that. She seems pretty sorted right now, but I think I have to make sure that she gets her food on time, her bills are paid — all the practical things. I provide that structure on which she can rely on and focus on her work. At times it’s demanding and at times it’s not. I am always there when she wants to discuss anything.
Shivangi: With Shraddha I am a support system and when it comes to Siddhanth he is more connected to me and is emotional.
Zarina: Sooraj has never come to me till date. He shares everything with his best friend Karan. I only play the role of being his support.
Ayesha: I have absolutely no role to play except to be Tiger’s biggest PR and supporter. I have become a mother to all his fans.
Q. Emotionally are they open to you?
Shivangi: Siddhanth is more open to me than Shraddha.
Soni: Shraddha is older than Alia and I think it makes a difference when you are older. When you are young. you are more of an introvert. Alia has always been close emotionally. She never shared things with me and when she was yoinger. I used to bang on her door and ask her to tell me what the problem was. Her friends also complain that she keeps everything to herself — that’s her nature. My other daughter (Shaheen) is different, she tells me everything, but then she reminds me that when she was young, she also wouldn’t. That’s why I said when you are older you are more open to sharing. It is the time when you are emotionally weaning yourself from the parents, so you don’t tell then everything.
Ayesha: Tiger is a reserved person, but he does open up to me emotionally.
Zarina: Sooraj doesn’t show his feelings to anyone. He must be talking to his best friend Karan.
Q. Did you experience separation pangs when getting into the industry? All said and done it’s the big bad world of Bollywood.
Shivangi: I don’t think it’s a big bad world.
Q. Maybe not for industry kids...
Shivangi: I think there’s a good world too. See there is so much you can do and everyone can have a chance. People who know acting have a chance... people who don’t also have a chance. The best business is showbusiness — let’s face it.
Soni: Things are difficult when you are struggling, when you don’t have money. It can also be humiliating. When you have a break given to you — from there you have a good year or a bad year. But at least you have that break. When you are struggling to have that break , it is a rough time. I have seen actors struggling on peripheries for years. There is a huge difference on what my daughter had to go through or others had to go through. She was getting herself ready for the film while she was still in school. She didn’t have time to chill in college or lose weight naturally. She was a normal school going kid so we all thought that things would gradually happen. I remember telling her at that time if you want to have chips, please have them as later you will have to control your diet for the rest of your life. I don't think my anxiety was related to Bollywood it was related more to just her being young and the ability to cope.
Shivangi: They are enjoying themselves and that’s what really matters. They are having a blast. There are friends and family who tell Shraddha that after two to three years she should get married. She tells them, “Are you crazy?” She has no time to look at a guy or probably I don’t think she has the time to look at guys who are looking at her. My son Siddhanth is emotionally, grounded. He wants to be with family which is nice.
Ayesha: I was never nervous. He was working hard and I somewhere knew that he would be accepted. The biggest excitement for me was to see him on screen. As a kid, a lot of people wanted to launch him because he is Jackie’s son, but when his debut happened it happened because of what Tiger is. He got a lot of time to work on his skills and he felt comfortable in that set up.
Q. Soni your older daughter (Shaheen) didn’t want to get into films?
Soni: No, she didn’t. She is working with her father (Mahesh Bhatt) and writing — she is more in that zone.
Shivangi: Everyone has a chance in Bollywood, people behind the scenes are doing so well in Bollywood. If you see Haider none of the actors got the awards, but the film won so many awards.
Q. Once your kids get into Bollywood, does it bother you that everything about them will be out there?
Shivangi: I don’t think the secrets are ever out. I don’t know any of her secrets.
Soni: What bothered me was that she got too much too soon in life. I know I shouldn’t be ungrateful, but for her own development as a person so she could value things a little more. It’s not that she doesn’t work hard — she does. This is what she wanted ato do ll her life.
Shivangi: My sister Padmini was 17 when she started and we were over protective about her.
Soni: I am speaking for Shraddha as well and that they deserve every bit of success they get. They don’t have a minute for themselves. Alia has 10 minutes and she doesn’t know what to do with herself. She will be like, “Oh my God, I have nothing to do today.” Then she will go to the gym ... she won’t sit at home.
Ayesha: That comes with the territory, also you are as great as your fans make you. Being a star and not being accessible — that is not right. All the big stars today get love from their fans and they reciprocate it as well. It comes with the field and if you are clean there is no need to hide.
Q. Has your equation with them changed after they got into acting?
Shivangi:I don’t think so. I tell them I am going to keep talking, so just hear me and keep listening to me — we have more experience. We are just going to tell them the right things to do. I believe that they can also take wise decisions.
Soni: I am the same mom that I was earlier. The only thing that has changed is that I don’t get enough time to just be a mom with her without having this work thing coming in betwen all the time. There is very little time to just be, may be when we go for a holiday or strangely enough when she goes for outdoors for a shoot like she has now. We have a family group on WhatsApp so we communicate there because she misses all of us, so in a way it’s nice, but then again it’s on the phone. I feel that I don’t get time to chill with her.
Zarina: No, it has not changed. The only thing I told Sooraj was not to be fake and when you go on the sets go like a worker, not like a star.
Ayesha: No it hasn’t, we still chat and hang out. The only thing that has changed is that when we step out, the crowd comes to him for pictures and autographs and that, of course, makes me happy.
Q. Do you see yourself in your kids?
Soni: I see a lot of myself in Alia when she is on screen. I hope she goes beyond just being a decent actress. I want her to reach the zenith. She is still discovering her talent and it is only going to grow.
Ayesha: I would like to say that Tiger is more like me, my daughter Krishna is more like her dad. They love late nights and whereas Tiger and me are different. We have disciplined and regimented lives. Jackie is a stylish man and Tiger has got his unique style. He always used to tell me, “Mom if I get into acting, I wouldn’t want to be a clone of dad.” Developing his own style is his biggest triumph I feel.
Zarina: Sooraj is a lot like me even Sana. But Sooraj is not too expressive.
Q. Alia seems more like her dad..
Shivangi: I think Shraddha looks like her dad, but the world says she looks like me. I feel she looks like her dad and both of them are like me when it comes to emotions and making decisions.
soni: I feel we get so bogged down by the practicalities whereas I feel my husband has the luxury of breezing in the room and giving some lecture about life and breezing out again. When Alia has to talk about work, she talks to Mahesh because he has more experience and a lot of her understanding comes from there. When she was growing up, she was fed up of the lectures, but all that goes into you somewhere... you absorb you and keep carrying within.
Shivangi: When Shraddha was doing Aashiqui 2 she told me the unit was like her family.
Soni: It is the same with Alia, she rarely needs a chat. They have these wonderful managers, it is so blessed to have people who know what you need to know and what you don’t need to do. But at the same time previously it was far simpler. There were less pressures to look good, to go for functions. It’s a 24-hour business, earlier they would go to shoot finish and come back home and chill. Now promotions are much more exhausting.
Shivangi: Then there are endorsements.
Soni: Actually the money comes from that and not the movies.
Zarina: Sooraj has got all his patience from me.
Q. How do you react to the the link ups, etc that is reported by the media? Like that episode when Alia blew up when she went for the Koffee With Karan chat show..
Soni: It’s a part of life. We had a good laugh about it and teased her about it. We told her she better read the newspapers often.
Shivangi: It’s a part of fame and their life.
Ayesha: It’s a part of the business. If he goes out with a colleague or a co-star there will be assumptions and a little bit of healthy assumptions are fine. I wouldn’t want lies to be written about him. Also, Tiger is someone who is accessible and affable so anyone can pick up the phone and ask him if there is something, which needs to be checked.
Zarina: It’s all a part of the business, my husband and me are actors, so we understand the dynamics of it.
Location Courtesy: Silver Beach Cafe, Juhu
Compiled and co-ordinated by Asira Tarannum
Moderated by Shubha Shetty Saha
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