Retropoplifestyle

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90s Sensation Bhagyashree

Interviewed by Seema Dhawan

 Actress Bhagyashree made a decision to maintain a family first. She has no regrets and today returns to the silver screen to wow audiences. This time, she’s joined by her two children in the industry as well. Retropop caught up with the star to learn about family life, her new avatar as a nutritionist, and films.

Excerpts 

• A born princess, what memories do you have of your early childhood? Tell us about it?

For me, it has been a journey since I was a child. Earlier I was an introvert; I barely had friends. I had a complex personality. Over the years, I have learned to be more outspoken and make sure what I want. I realized unless you don’t speak up, you are not heard. Earlier, when I was young, I was focused on my education. I was good at my studies. I was an obedient child and student. The first step that I took on my own was the decision to get married. It was the biggest decision, you can say in a girl’s life, where she’s always trusted by the people around her and the society. It was one decision that I made and I decided that I am going to follow my heart and mind. 

Once I did that, of course, there was a huge change in my life. And, I think what happened post that gave me a chance to discover who I am as a person. When I commit to something, I give it my heart and soul, no matter what.

Nowadays, you see marriage is failing, people getting divorced. So at that time, coming from a completely different world into another, doing things because I loved the man, the level of commitment required from me was extreme. And I could follow it through only because of that.

  * Did your parents approve of the marriage?

 They thought I was too young. They also thought that he was of a different cast. They are Marwadis and would be more orthodox. I would have more problems.

Ours was a larger family as we were living in a joint familyAlso back then, Himalayaji was young, and he wasn’t earning enough to be able to support a wife. I came from a background where things were well-looked after. We had our room, and we had servants and everything. Leaving that and coming into a household where there were joint responsibilities for everything was a difficult situation, but I could manage it only because of my level of commitment.

·         Did you repent that you made a wrong choice when you had a strong, beautiful career ahead of you? How did you cope?

 Then you need to ask yourself a question, ‘Why did you do it in the first place?’ Because when you make a decision, either you do it mindlessly, but if it is not that mindless, and it is done with a focused thought, you have to ask yourself, ’What was that focused thought.’ Mine was ‘I loved this man’. So when you have that much love for a person, then the other things fall short, and problems come and go. If your love towards the person is stronger, even the expectations are not there, it is just ‘you and me’. The expectation of love from the other person doesn’t even matter, whether you are getting that much back in return or not. All that matters is that you love the person.

Of course, I didn’t get time to enjoy the adulation and attention, but today the kind of love and respect that people have for me, God has been kind. I consider myself fortunate that over so many years after that people haven’t forgotten me ‘Kuchh to achha kiya hoga.

·         How did you two meet? 

We went to the same school. I went to a convent school – J.B. Petit High School in South Bombay. Later I shifted to the suburbs and joined Jamnabai Narsee School. Himalaya ji was also there. We were classmates. But since I came from a girl school, I was an introvert. I did not speak to any boy ‘bus kaam ki baat karti thi.’ I was good in studies except for Maths, and Himalaya ji was very good at Maths. ‘Humari dosti ho gayi’.

Both of us were young, always together. When you grow older, you develop a more mature bond. We grew up together and have been together since our teenage days.

·          Your son Abhimanyu and daughter Avantika have joined the industry, but they both seem to have priorities in different kinds of cinema. Do you give them advice or do they seek advice from you?

I learn from them, you know, the whole way of how media and how films are made today and everything has changed drastically and even the people watching films have changed drastically. So I end up learning from them. What advice I give them is more what every mother would do to her child. I tell them to respect their elders and concentrate on their work without getting affected by what other people have to say. They must enjoy the journey of their work rather than reaching the goal. And that is what they’re doing. They pick the cinema of their choice, and I am quite happy about it.

·                 Do your children feel the weight of expectations and comparisons with you? Do you think there are more expectations from a star kid?

They are made to feel that. Social media and both people around them kind of push them and that it’s very unfortunate. You have rightly said they have chosen different kinds of films but it’s not that I helped them to reach where they are. They have gone through the hard route and given the auditions. They have been rejected a couple of times before getting what they want to do.

·         Who is more possessive and firm with the childrenYou or Himalaya?

I like to bring them up very grounded. So when it comes to behavior patterns, expenditure of money, and respect for elders, then yes I am quite firm with them.

 They have to be present for family functions and give respect to people around them. It’s not that I have to get ever angry. Himalaya is more strict with them when it comes to being the patriarch of the family, ‘mujh se pooch kar jaana hai’ It’s not that he is going to say no to them, but ‘jahan jana pooch kar jana’. (She laughs)

 How do you deal with the generation gap at home with your children? What do you like about each other and vice versa? What do you not like about each other and vice versa? 

The important thing is that I keep an open mind, and I believe that they can teach me much more now than I can teach them.

If I am to keep up with today’s world, I have to learn from the youngsters. I have to understand their language and thought process rather than imposing my thoughts. Of course, certain things come with experience, especially the emotional aspects of how to deal with pressures with positivity and maturity when they are disturbed. It’s easier for us, due to age and experience, to tell them that this too shall pass. You know, when they’re going through trying times or when they are not in their best of spirits, we can guide them through those difficult times. What helps being in a family together is ‘we are all open to one another’. If one holds grudges it becomes very difficult to stay under one roof  So I think the best thing to do is look at the sun and you will never see the shadow.

·         What is your take on the filmmakers/content writers/actors and audience of your generation and the current generation. How has the industry evolved over the years? 

 Earlier, films were made larger than life. There was a lot of emotional content also, where family relations were concerned, whether it was towards your mother or your siblings, those kinds of relationships were explored much more. But today, I think the kinds of films made are on different subjects. It could be with the work environment. It could be interpersonal work relationships rather than family relationships. 

So the storytelling has changed drastically. Also, there is no sermonizing. So whatever has to be told in a scene has to be done in fewer lines, in less time.

I think that is the mind-set of the current generation. You’re catering to that. I think you can no longer pass judgment on anybody. You need an open mind to think that things are changing and it’s okay to be different. Yeah, I mean, you know, there’s no harm as long as you are not harming anybody else. So it’s fine.

·         Who has been your favorite actress from your generation?

 Madhuri Dixit. I loved the way she danced and the expressions on her face. That is something that I enjoyed then and today as well.

·          And today’s generation?

Alia is tremendously talented. I like the performance that she gives; she’s got that sense of innocence, yet mischievousness, which, you know, the younger generation likes.

 I like the way Priyanka Chopra has managed to reach great heights. As a woman, you feel proud. It makes you feel proud of yourself for being a woman because she’s managed to reach her goals in life.

·         From ‘Kachi Dhoop’ to ‘Maine Pyaar Kiya” to winning the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut to presenting the Filmfare Award to your son for Best Male Début, what would you say about your journey?

I feel blessed. What more can a mother ask for! And more so for a journey he has taken on his own and worked extremely hard for. Of course, being in the same profession I know he felt happy too…. knowing that his achievement made me happy.

·          Your preference TV or Films or Web series?

Unfortunately with theatres closed, we were left with no choice but to binge on web shows. Films like Meenakshi Sundaram, Paglait had real life interesting premises but those made for theatre had little impact on OTT. 

On OTT, off late there have been quite a few interesting projects that have been aired. Mithya, my daughter’s webshow of course is special to me above all.

Amongst the others there is Paatal Lok, Bichho Ka Khel, The Fame Game, The Family Man, even Bombay Begums, I found interesting. I also watch a lot of international webseries.

·           OTT or Theatre?

Theatre experience can never be forgotten or minimized. It is an experience unmatched by any other. OTT, on the other hand, will never be relegated to the background. We have tasted blood. Entertainment at our fingertips, within our homes at the time of our askance. What more could we ask for?

·      What is your take on social media?

 It depends on what you use social media for. If you use social media to connect with people, then it is the best medium. But if it is affecting your mental status, affecting daily life, and your entire life is based on that, I think that can be very disruptive.

·      Absolutely. But you are using it to benefit so many. I love watching your healthcare topics; they are enlightening sessionsTell us about your transition to becoming a nutritionist.

 It began when I had a serious health issue. They told me I would need a major surgery – which I vehemently opposed. I decided to go for alternative therapy through nutrition and exercise to heal myself and started studying the same. 

It is the best way to connect to people and deliver the knowledge I learned from the health problems that I faced personally. I didn’t know a lot of things at the time. As you grow older -what you lay the foundation of your health now, will help you later in life.

Right ? So it’s more of giving back to society because I’m not earning anything from it. I know that all I’m doing is just giving advice. Yes and the advice are free for people. Either take or leave it.

·         The Real Bhagyashree…

 is a simple girl with simple wants, yet fortified with resilience to withstand any storm.

·             Do you believe in Destiny?

There is one destiny that is written and then there is one that is we can change by our actions and beliefs. If we work hard enough towards it, we can make things happen. 

Quick Takes 

        Favorites

Food

Green-Veg Thai Curry

Restaurant

 Chin Chin Chu because of certain memories.

Place

Croatia

Shopping Haunt

London

Film

Sholay

Actor/Actress

Amitabh Bachhan/ Alia Bhatt 

·         Your other interests

 I love travelling, and reading up on nutrition 

·         Casual Look

White salwar kurta 

·           Formal look

Sari, always 

·          Five make-up essentials in your makeup kit

Kajal, Nykaa lip color/ BB cream/ Moisturizer/ Cheek tint by Isadora

·          Five wardrobe essentials

Blue jeans, white shirt, a red sari, a white kurti, nude inners 

·           Secret of your ageless beauty

Be happy, don’t carry grudges, sleep well, eat healthy, drink enough water, keep moving, don’t sit too long. 

She entered the film industry back in 90s , gave us a super hit “Maine Pyar Kiya” and became an overnight sensation. Soon after, she gave up her career and bid adieu to the glamorous world of showbiz to begin her off screen love story with Himalaya Dassani, with whom she tied the knot in 1990. She has never repented.

It’s said relationships change over time but Bhagyashree proved it wrong…hers has stood the test of time. A doting wife, a responsible mother, Bhagyashree always found bliss in her family.

Now that her children are grown up, she resumed her second innings with élan and doing quality work. Recently Bhagyashree and her husband joined the new reality show ‘Smart Jodi’ as contestants on Star TV.

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