By Nitya Satyani | Opening Doorz Editorial | November 10, 2016
From Tujhe Meri Kasam in 2003 to Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya in 2012, Genelia D’Souza and Riteish Deshmukh have literally cemented their love story. Four years into their marriage and two sons later, the actress is still full of beans and as expected has found her anchor in her husband who is pushing her to work. “Riteish was very clear. He wanted me to be involved in our production house because he felt I was good at it,” says the sassy Mom who has her hands full at the moment with her young sons, but is yet found on the sets.
Nitya Satyani meets up with the energetic Mrs Deshmukh for a tête-à-tête.
Did you feel being a woman you had to make a choice between family and career?
No, I don’t think it’s women centric, it’s a decision every individual makes for themselves when they feel the time is right. I had worked for 12 years every single day and had given up on small joys like festivals with the family. So I felt the time was right for me to spend my life with the people I love.
My motive has always been, ‘if it has to come to you, it will’. I feel we need to be content with what we choose. When I was acting, people were surprised I chose to do movies in the South. But some of my best work has been there. And then when I felt the time was right, I came back to Hindi films. I treated getting married in a similar fashion. It felt like it was the right time.
Do you miss being in the limelight and the adulation?
I do miss acting because I love it. And sometimes I miss the creative satisfaction. But I don’t miss the limelight. I could do without attending premieres and the glamour. Having said that, I’m married to an actor and I still get to be on the sets.
What’s Riteish’s take on your career?
Riteish was very clear. He wanted me to be involved in our production house because he felt I was good at it. And I have started taking on work again. I am now doing ads. So there are many things that I do even today that keep me involved with my career.
Mothers are faced with a constant battle between being a ‘stay-at-home-mum’ and a working mum. Where do you see yourself eventually?
I definitely see myself taking on more work soon. I just have to space myself out and plan my day better. Women can manage anything. We are great at multi-tasking. It just takes better planning. Career is just one segment of life. There’s so much more to life. And I still intend to keep working in the future
Any advice for young mothers who have given up on being working mums but regret it at times because they miss being the working woman?
If young mothers want to work, they should. Moms should not feel pressurized about parenting being only their job. I’m fortunate because I can take my boys to my sets when I’m shooting for my ads. And they have a blast. But that’s my line of work. I wish India was more kid friendly.
But the feeling of guilty does creep in when one is away at work…
Mothers who want to work should never feel guilty. It’s not only her job to be a parent. There has to be an understanding between a husband and wife. When I was pregnant, Riteish and I always used the term ‘We are pregnant’. Even now, when I have to work Riteish takes the day off. Having said that, your child is an extension of you and his upbringing is your responsibility. So I don’t know how easy it is if you’re extremely ambitious. But every mother has to space herself. Working is definitely a possibility.
Was it a conscious decision to have your children so close together?
Riteish and I always wanted to have our children close in age. My brother and I have a two-year age gap. Riteish and his brother are 20 months apart. So yes, we always thought we would plan our children so that they could grow up together. Of course it went a little differently than we thought [laughs]. (Rahyl was born on June 1, 2016 around 19 months after Riaan).
Right now it’s not very easy. One child needs to be fed constantly and the other wants to talk and run around all day. But you manage. Eventually, every mother has to plan her children according to her situation and what she can deal with.
Riteish and you come across as an inspirational couple with a very healthy marriage. How is he as a father?
Riteish is a great father. He takes full responsibility when I have commitments. He ensures my children have an organic upbringing. My son does not possess any of the big toys that children nowadays do. Instead, Riteish makes it a point to take them outdoors. I hate reptiles. But Riteish didn’t want me to pass on my fears to my sons. My older son Riaan who will be two years old on November 25, loves snails and butterflies and has a natural curiosity for all things in nature. He also knows the entire Sa-Re-Ga-Ma. He is best friends with my dog. All of that has come from Riteish.
Your children are going to be under public scrutiny constantly. Does that bother you? How would you shield them from media attention?
When my sons were born, there were photographers who wanted to click their pictures. But we requested them not to. And everyone understood. We really appreciate that. We released pictures of both our boys when we thought it was the right time.
Even the other day, I was at Riaan’s school and there was a photographer who wanted to take our picture. But I requested him not to. Not only is it not fair to my children, but I think it’s unfair to other children as well—to watch a friend being given extra attention.
Being a new mother is sometimes like swimming against the tide, with mums taking advice from older women in the house, parenting blogs, the Internet… Who does Genelia go to when she has a question on parenting?
I go everywhere. I read books, the Internet, I talk to my mum, Riteish’s mum, even other like-minded mums. I listen to everyone, but eventually decide for myself and choose what I want to do.
One of the obvious downsides of motherhood is getting used to the changes in your body. Any style tips?
Not just new mums but I think with age everything changes. So my advice is to dress according to your body. I feel a woman takes nine months to gain weight. She should be given at least that much time or more to lose it without any pressure.
At the same time, I meet women who neglect themselves just because they are married or are mothers and feel they don’t need to put in the effort anymore. But it’s not just about weight; it’s also about your health. Take your time but try to go as close to your own original body type as you can.
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