Sameera Reddy and her mom-in-law, Manjri Varde on their sassy relationship
Trashing the stereotypical trope of a conflict-ridden relationship, actor Sameera Reddy and her mom-in-law, Manjri Varde, make viral videos of quick food tips, full of banter.
Actor, and now, digital creator, Sameera Reddy, is a delight on social media. The 41-year-old's unfiltered pictures and videos find a connect with the everyday woman—who deals with her kids, greying hair, and, of course, her mother-in-law. But the actor, whom we remember from movies such as Race and Musafir, and as part of stylish trio of sisters—VJ Meghna and model Sushma—is setting family goals for her 956k followers of Instagram. Since March 2020, Reddy and her mother-in-law, Manjri Varde, have been making food and fashion content under the title, Messy Mama and Sassy Saasu.
As we sit down for a Zoom chat, the two—Reddy and Varde, along with the rest of the family, moved to Goa during the lockdown—are in a happy, upbeat mood. It's Varde's first interview, and though she says she is nervous, she looks far from it. "I have asked her [to join me] for so many interviews, but she has turned it down. She said yes only because she loves mid-day," says Reddy. Ask them if they have always shared this camaraderie, and Varde says, "She is more exuberant, and I am quieter. But, in the beginning, it was good because I accept things very easily. She had come into our lives and that was it. She would talk, and do things, and she always acted like it was her house. Once, she told me 'I like this shampoo in your bathroom. I am taking it home.' This was before she got married to Akshai," she says. Reddy laughs and says, "When I met Akshai, I knew he was the man I wanted to marry. But I wasn't the type to put my best foot forward and try and please my would-be mother in-law. I wanted the relationship to be clear from the beginning. I annoyed her, irritated her—she would be aghast and would say 'You are going to say this to me?' I was like 'Ya!' Communication is key. I can't brush things under the carpet. Take the band-aid off. That's why we have a cool relationship today because she responded to that idea." It could be the reason that Reddy, who married entrepreneur Akshai Varde seven years ago, fit into the household without glitches. "She is larger! I am only five feet. So, physically and in her attitude, she was larger. She is a free person. But, I realised soon that she doesn't have any malice, and won't do anything in an underhanded way. That's why I accept all the rest," says Varde, and Reddy adds, "Now, she tells me off pretty often." And that sets them off laughing.
The chemistry has translated well on social media, with their videos going viral. If one shows them making a homestyle frankie, another has them exploring their weekend style, often wearing the same type of garment. They make fun of each other, but the videos show genuine mutual affection. "It started off with Manjri making fun of the way I cut onions. We have a banter that's real. She would say 'didn't your mother teach you anything' and I would say 'OMG, I love what you are wearing. I wouldn't wear that'. She likes loud colours and it takes a personality to wear any of what she wears. She has 12 pairs of boots! But we don't feel bad about anything we say. We wanted to change the old-school narrative of what a bahu and saas should be like. I don't even call her mom," says Reddy, and Varde adds, "She still calls me aunty!" Varde also has adapted to the social media platform effortlessly, "I like it. I don't have to leave the house to do anything!"
They are now headed to greener pastures, having shot their first advertisement together, this month. "Manjri is a natural. Even the director of the ad said she is amazing. She delivers all the lines perfectly. When I am directing her in the videos, I don't even see her as my MIL. I see her as the 'talent'." Right now, they just want to keep creating content—"We wanted people her age thinking, 'I can still sass it up'. We want people to see the saas-bahu relationship in a positive way. We just go with the flow. Everything you see is very real, and that's what makes it fun."
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