Celebrity parent on parentune.com- Barkha Bisht Sengupta
Created by Ankita A Talwar Updated on Sep 16, 2014
You have admired her many times, lighting up your small or silver screen with her power-packed performances whether it was of the feisty Kesar, in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus, Ram Leela (can we forget the sensitive scene where she offers her son to the matriarch of the disputing family to kill and then finish off all traces of the bloody feud?) or as the loving Pinky, from the show Parvarish—Kuch Khatte, Kuch Meethi, where she essayed the character of a mother who believes parenting is about be-friending children and yet is at a loss of how to get the balance right. On a sabbatical, to bring up her daughter, Barkha Bisht Sengupta, is back on TV now, as Mariyam, in Tum Saath Ho Jab Apne, aired on Sony Pal. We bring to you an exclusive chat with the self assured actor and producer, who wears many hats with an unrelenting confidence. Barkha talks to us about her family, life, and especially the light of her life, her daughter Meira.
Barkha, we would love to know more about you and your family.
Like you mentioned, my daughter Meira is the light of my life. Her name also means the same. Her name is Meira (and not the Indian Meera), a word of Hebrew origin, that means, one who brings light. She is three years and is a very active, intelligent, and sensitive child. She keeps both me, and my husband, Indraneil Sengupta, on our toes when we are at home as she constantly wants to be doing something stimulating.
But doesn’t that become tiring for you—managing Meira and a career?
Oh yes, it is sometimes very hectic! I don’t know how many people realise this, but spending time with a child can be very draining. Their energy and curiosity levels are so high that it can become mentally tiring to cope with them. In fact, I find it more tiring than doing a job. Thankfully, I have a great domestic help and loving in-laws. In fact when I am travelling, my-inlaws fill in for me.
How do you manage your schedule when shooting?
As a policy, I never leave Meira alone. If I have to, I take her with me to the shoots where she joins me for lunch or for snack. When I can’t take her, she is either with my in-laws, or with a family member. I have family living around me, and they are a great support in helping me bring her up.
Tell us something more about Meira.
Meira is, three years, and like I mentioned she needs to be doing something constantly. Thankfully, and infact ironically, she is not a TV buff (though she loves to watch me or Indraneil when our shows are being aired), but even when she is watching something on TV, including her favourite Disney Princesses, she is continuously asking me the ‘how, why, what..’ questions. She has an eager mind. When I get time, I sit down and do some activities with her—play with clay, blocks, or read out books. Indraneil gifted her an IPad—inspite of me saying no—and now she knows more about it than her father—she can click photographs on in and keeps doing something.
So who is the disciplining parent—you or Indraneil?
Disciplining is a job on me. Indraneil loves her to an extent, that he spoils her—he can’t stand her crying or sulking for something and will immediately try to fulfil her demands. But, I am a more strict parent. I, myself, come from an Army background, and was brought up in an environment that gave me a lot of independence, yet with responsibility. Very early on, I was taught to be responsible for my own actions, take decisions, and live with them. Even with Meira, I try and follow the same thing.
Though honestly, I am a very chilled out, easy-going person. I have never forced her for anything. In fact, my parents complain that she is turning out to be a very stubborn and strong-willed child, but I am not concerned about it. I know that basically she is a nice person. She is a very sensitive child and feels things very deeply. When I get angry or upset with her over something, even though I may not be shouting or punishing, she can sense the vibes and will ask me, ‘Why are you sad?’ But then again, there are moments, when she is throwing a tantrum and I have to become the strict parent. Then I send her off to her room and tell her to talk to me once she is done crying.
How does she relate to both her parents being celebrities and the media attention?
As of now, she is too young, and doesn’t really understand the celebrity angle of her family life. She knows that both of us are working and are actors and come on TV, but beyond that she doesn’t comprehend the public life. Even when we are out, and a fan asks for our autograph or a wants a photo to be clicked, she takes it very normally.
And what do you think about exposing her to the limelight?
I am neutral about it—she is my child and, if along with me, she gets clicked too, I am ok with it. I have never kept her hidden and at events, where she is with me, she does get photographed—I don’t mind it, after all, it is a part of her life and family. In fact, she has walked the ramp with me for a few charity shows as well.
What have been your favourite moments with Meira?
Actually, too many moments to list! But one of the best moments was when she started to talk and went ‘mamma, mamma...’. To know you are a mother is one thing, but to have a little angel call you a mother for the first time is a totally different experience. She is extremely fond of me. When I am down and out, she will come to me, hug me, and try to reassure me. She loves me selflessly. Though I have to say ‘no’ to her sometimes, I feel sad about saying it to her as I know that it hurts her, but somethings must be done.
What are the challenges you are facing, working and shooting for your new show?
Honestly, I have always felt that a working mother faces multiple challenges. The idea that a non-working mother brings up a child better—I don’t accept it. I feel that with a working mother, children become more independant, learn to be on their own, and also in future, will emulate their mother and stand on their feet more easily. Children learn by example and if I am a confident, financially independant, and have my own identity, she will also follow.
But yes, the balancing it out is a sometimes very draining on energy. The challenge lies in time management. What a non-working parent has to do in 24 hours, I have shorter time span to do it.