The actress who debuted her Bollywood career with Qayamat: City Under Threat is enjoying the eternal bliss of motherhood and her marriage these days in full swing. With the ability to outshine in every field, the winner of the most coveted beauty pageant adorns her crown with various gems. Living probably the best phase of her life, the actress turned podcast producer and talk show host shares some of her experiences with us about work-life balance, her adventurous journey with Roadies and more. Edited Excerpts...
Grabbing everyone’s attention for over 15 years with your bold roles, you have now come to light as a host for various shows. How did the metamorphosis come about?
Well, I don’t know if I have been grabbing attention or not, the whole point is just to keep working and figuring out what you are good at, and what your strengths and weaknesses are. And, I feel like I have always had my blinders on, and my intention is to wake up and work. I try and like to do that every day. Whether its hosting stuff or whether it's continuing to work on any sort of craft that I am a part of, I try to do as much as I can.
Your shows BFFs and now #NoFilterNeha, are all about stories celebrities have to tell about themselves and their lives. Is it what you enjoy doing as a friend and a wife also?
I am a very good listener when it comes to being a host because I know for a fact that I always have good comebacks and good questions to ask. Am I that good in life? I don’t know! My husband always says that I don’t pay 100 per cent attention to what he says, but I am okay with that, because I know he still loves me, no matter what. I take advantage of that.
You have been an uninhibited spirit, considering your choices and way of living. Even the pressure of coming back in shape after Mehr, your daughter, could not affect you, unlike other leading actresses. How did you take that? At some point, were you conscious about your screen presence?
To say that the pressure of coming back into shape, did not affect me is not true. I did put on weight and I am trying hard to lose it. There is one part of me that owns the fact that you have to consider yourself before other people, and I am aware of that. I wake up, I work out, and I am almost back to the original dimensions that I was before I gave birth.
What would your advice be for the girls facing body shaming issues, in any aspect, especially the Millenials?
I believe body shaming is something that is so unnecessary, secondly, people who have been doing it have no right to do it, and most importantly those who are facing it and are feeling victimised through it should come out and talk about it, but never take the pressure of it, because it is something so not important. I think these are just orthodox dimensions which are being put in our head. If you don’t fit this or that dimension then you are not beautiful. There are people who are not even close to that but they still feel and look amazing, because they don’t feel the pressure.
Being a public figure, how do you strike the much-coveted balance between family, work and fitness?
I feel it is a lot of pressure to pack everything up in 24 hours, and there are days when my baby needs me more than any other day, those days are very hard to leave for work and they don’t come with an appointment. It is just that she needs me a little more. It gets tough for me to strike a balance because being honest I suffer from a lot of mom-guilt every time I step out of the house. But, I try to be cynical about my timings.
As far as my husband is concerned, he is an actor too, and it is not a lesser-known fact that his timings are also very hard to maintain. You are living these three lives, in fact, more between being a mum, a wife, an entrepreneur, an actor and then you gotta make time for yourself. You just have to find the right balance. The fitness part denotes enough and more self-love, so that is something that is squeezed in either early in the morning or late at night after my doll goes to bed. I feel like it is all a mixing.
Your initiative ‘Freedom to Feed’ aimed a very critical yet less talked about the issue of motherhood, freedom for breastfeeding. Was it just the “Mehr” effect which made you bring this around, or something else? How do you envision its future?
Firstly, ‘Freedom to Feed’ is not only about breastfeeding alone. It is called ‘Freedom to Feed’ because it comes with a lack of any sort of judgement, whether you want to breastfeed your child or bottle feed or want to use a pump for that matter, all of that is absolutely okay, because we don’t judge you. It is literally around the belief, ‘Mumma knows the best’. She knows exactly what to do. Is this something that came out of my experience while I was breastfeeding Mehr? Of course, It was a by-product of me becoming a mum, otherwise, how would I have ever known.
Now, I am obviously far more sensitive towards mums and breastfeeding and babies, after I have gone through it myself. About sharing the experience, I felt like every other mum out there who wishes to put out her story, so I did. I reached out to other mums through social media and I got a fantastic response.