‘YOUR INDIVIDUALITY MUST REMAIN INTACT’
Rani Mukerji says coming back to the sets after a gap of two years made her realise that this is where she belongs
Rani Mukerji has been away from the big screen for a while. The actor married film-maker Aditya Chopra in 2014, and after she delivered her baby girl, Adira, in 2015, she has stayed away from the film world to play a real mother. Now, as the actor gears up for the release of first film since Mardaani was released in 2014, we catch up with her to talk about Adira, motherhood, and more. At a recent event, you spoke about working mothers. Also, you told us how it can be a great example for Adira to see her mum as a working woman. I thought the question was a bit strange [at the event]. I was asked, ‘Do you feel guilty about leaving your child at home and going to work?’ So, I replied, ‘Do men feel guilty when they leave their children and wives at home?’ That question is always posed to a woman and not to a man. Why? Just because the woman carries the baby and gives birth, is it [the child] only her responsibility? Today, most homes have become nuclear and people want to leave the joint family setup, so it’s important for both the partners to work. It’s not like you shouldn’t have children just because you have to work. Why is it still such a touchy topic even today? If staying at home and raising a child makes you happy, then that’s great. But there are women who like to work and, at the same time, want to raise their child too. You can’t ask a woman why she wants to work. In today’s day and age, I don’t think there should be any problem [with this]. I had my mother and a great nurse to look after my child. One has to do that, and I would love to make that sacrifice [to give up on my career] if I was required to, but this is my choice. I have spoken with so many women who say that they had to go back to work after three months [of delivery], as they had no choice. Do you feel actresses have been an easy target? Yes, I feel they are an easy target for this question. People feel that we should stop loving our craft just because we are married. But if you love your work, irrespective of being a man or a woman, you love your work for your entire life. For me, it is a natural extension. I had my baby and took a two-year gap, but just being on the set made me realise that this was where I belong and I can’t be away from this. I might take a break, but this is who I am. Your individuality must remain intact. It must not leave you just because you have done something new in your life. Has Adira started understanding the work that you do? No, but Adira does recognise me when she sees my picture on the phone or in the papers. Otherwise, she is too young to understand these things. However, she remembers when someone takes pictures with me. Once a security guard took a photo with me, so she told everyone, ‘Police ne mamma ke saath photo liya’. I have no idea what she thinks of these things. But she has understood the concept of pictures. After two years of becoming a mum, has everything fallen into place for you by now? I am experiencing motherhood for the first time. Maybe, I will plan more the second time around. I guess the first time, we are nervous and anxious about everything around the baby. When Adira was born, I believed I had to be with my child every second and that she has to have my time. I wanted to be part of all the milestones that she achieves. There is a stage when your child has not registered your voice or your face, and at that time, you can still balance work and time with caring for a child. Now, it is getting more difficult for me, since Adira wants me there [all the time]. And the attachment grows too. So, I have to plan it better now. I thought that when she grows up, things will be easier for me, but it’s not (smiles).
Your husband is also a busy man. How do you two divide time for Adira? There have been times when I had to attend certain commitments. For example, when my dad passed away, I was busy with his last rites. So, Adi had to be with the baby. Even on my dad’s chautha, Adi wasn’t with me, as he had to be at home with Adira. She needs one of us to be with her. He balances it and also takes Sundays off. On Sundays, he takes her for a walk and comes back when it is time for her to sleep.