Raveena Tandon: Adopting two girls at 21 was a defining moment of my life

Actress turned web series writer and even wildlife photographer, Raveena Tandon tells NICHOLA PAIS that you can and should live life to the fullest

There is no ‘age’ for doing anything, you can do whatever you want to do and live your life to the fullest when you want to.”

Actress, writer, supporter of human and animal rights, among other things, you are quite the epitome of empowerment. For you personally what does empowerment encompass? I think the term is quite subjective. It means differently to different people. For me, it’s how I lead my life, whether I am confident enough to make a decision for myself without thinking about the repercussions, and to have the ability to dream, aspire and achieve goals.

To live your life the way you want to and on your terms – for me, that is empowerment in its true sense. Fact is, empowerment does not come on a silver platter… I think one needs to empower himself or herself on one’s own. It’s about working towards your goal with sheer determination and honesty, without thinking about people’s perception. Whatever you set out to do, nothing should stop you.

Were there defining moments in your life when you stood up for yourself, took control? I think I was 21 and I adopted two girls and at that time nobody had heard of single mothers. The whole concept was very alien. That was certainly a defining moment of my life. Another moment was when I got to know about a landlord who evicted the caretaker and the 31 girls from a property.

Without even thinking twice, I got all of them moved into my house. The idea was to provide them shelter and basic necessities of life. After all these years, they still write letters to me. This is what makes me believe in unconditional love. How important do you think it is for a woman to have a career and other interests that nurture herself and her talents? It is definitely important, not just for a woman but also a man.

What’s the point of living without any purpose? Being a 21st century woman, one needs to be financially independent to the extent of handling oneself. Most importantly, a woman must cultivate her interests to achieve her goal and create an identity for herself. What part would you say the film industry has played in your growth and empowerment? I think the industry has played a major role in my growth as an actor and an individual.

I am grateful to all those who had worked with me, especially the ones who supported me and had faith in me during the initial stage of my career. Over the years, I have learnt a lot. The industry has given me a lot – identity and respect but I have also made a few really good friends for life. How important is it for a woman, post-motherhood, to stay updated and relevant? Were there times in your life when you got a tad too bogged down by kids, home and hearth? It comes naturally to me.

You do get bogged down by kids, home and hearth but it’s not that you are not aware of what’s going on around you. It also depends on what your interests are. You continue pursuing your interests and you continue everything and everything happens in a flow. It’s not that, ‘Oh I have got kids so I have shut myself up completely from the entire world’. Ironically, many presume that being a feminist means being anti-men.

How would you define feminism? Being a feminist doesn’t mean that we have to fight for our rights to prove that we are superior. Feminism means asking for equal job opportunities in the social strata of our society. That’s how women need to stand strong. If not working harder, women are working literally equal to men, but the preference has always been given to the opposite sex. Most men are said to be scared of strong, opinionated women.

Agree? I do think a few men are scared of strong opinionated women. Most of the time, they don’t really pay attention to the fact that a women is talking or that she might have a suggestion. They have an indifferent kind of an attitude. I have kind of faced that especially when you are an actress as nobody expects you to have an opinion about things that are going on around you.

Even today, whether a sportsperson or an actress, if you are intelligent and aware of what’s happening in your country or the world over and if you do want to give an opinion, I have seen armchair critics on Twitter trolling people who are self-made saying, ‘Oh you are an actress, stick to acting and what do you know?’, etc.

What happened to our freedom of speech? We have an opinion and we are citizens of this country and we are equally concerned about the state of affairs and we are moms and we have children and are worried about the future of this planet. Today, you seem to be even more on a trip of self discovery, exploring different facets of your personality and talents… I have always believed in reinventing myself.

Diving deep within yourself and figuring out what you can do and what you can’t, what are your interests and passion… I never thought I would turn full-fledged writer but I have been writing since 2000 and when I narrated to a lot of my friends they thought it was ahead of its time and Indian audiences weren’t ready for stuff like this. Today I am glad that we have some expansive platforms which have international shows on it.

I think even our audiences have become more aware of world cinema, situations, and stories that the films can be made on. In fact, three of the scripts I have written very early have been accepted now and made into web series. There is no ‘age’ for doing anything, you can do whatever you want to do and live your life to the fullest when you want to.

I have always loved wildlife so now I’ve dabbled in wildlife photography as well, pack my bag and get into any forest of this beautiful country and try my hand at it. I enjoy doing things that I have passion for.

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