Mother’s Day 2023: Gajra Kottary, a novelist, debates about love with her writer and actor son, Advait

Mother’s Day 2023: Gajra Kottary, a novelist, debates about love with her writer and actor son, Advait

Gajra Kottary is a collector. She collects experiences and thoughts, and pens teleplays and novels

Dinesh RahejaUpdated: Saturday, May 13, 2023, 06:55 PM IST
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Gajra Kottary is a collector. She collects experiences and thoughts, and pens teleplays and novels (Once upon A Star, Girls Don’t Cry) for which she then collects awards.

Her son, Advait, is a London-based actor (Jaane-e-Jigar, Beecham House). He has taken a leaf from his mother’s book, and written his first novel, Siddhartha.

The two do hold strikingly different viewpoints. This mother-son’s debate on love in various forms evidences that the generational chasm can be bridged by common passions and unconditional love.

Love for creativity

Does your common love of writing strengthen your strong mother-son bond?

Gajra: We are like any other mother-son in most ways, but the commonality of the creative dimension is what makes our bond unique. We can brainstorm story ideas for hours and not be bored of each others’ company. We also discuss many subjects otherwise taboo between a mother and son while discussing our characters.  

Advait: I was inspired to become an author because of my mother’s novels. Like any mother and son, we agree and disagree on several things, but we have a deep underlying respect as fellow writers.

Advait, was your mother supportive when you quit engine designing to pursue the arts?

Advait: I wouldn’t have been able to reboot my life if my parents hadn’t encouraged me. I grew up in a house where books were treasured over other possessions. Mom guided me then; and, till today, advises me on my decisions. 

Gajra: It was a shock when Advait quit his engineering job and got his first big acting assignment. When he expressed interest in writing, I was absolutely thrilled... and relieved that he would be pursuing something cerebral that would keep him growing, and prevent him from being air-headed as actors can sometimes be.

Maternal love

Do you have a similar world view when it comes to love?

Gajra: There is definitely a generational divide. This generation thinks of themselves before others. Whereas, for us, it was all about others. But I learn from the way my son thinks, and concede that the right way lies somewhere in between.  

Advait: My mother is definitely more of an idealist than I am. Though there’s much to be learnt from prioritising others’ goals, I believe that individuality comes first.

Mothering can overreach into smothering.

Gajra: I do get into the ‘gajar ka halwa’ zone, and he often indulges me. It’s temporarily hurtful when he doesn’t want that kind of love, but one gets around it.

How do you handle disagreements?

Gajra: I sulk, and he tries hard to initiate and talk it out. Agreeing to disagree is the only way out... it is painful, yet calming too.

Advait: I keep reminding myself that Mom thinks more emotionally than rationally. If Mom’s still upset, I just blame it on my gene pool.

Gajra, will you be able to share your son’s affection with his wife?

Gajra: That’s something I often think about. Our creative bond just might be the insurance policy for us being able to continue to interact and understand each other. Fingers crossed.

Son’s love 

Advait, is your mother aware of the latest developments in your life?

Advait: Yes. I’ve lived away for much of my adult life, and realise the importance of staying connected to family.

How often do you talk?

Gajra: Every single day though the time zone issues are vexing to adjust to.

How much do you share emotionally with the other?

Gajra: Frankly, it should not be complete sharing. I do get to know about his romances... when he asks for advice, he complains that I always take the girl’s side as I am a woman.    

Advait: We share a lot with each other, maybe more than other parents and children.

Romantic love

How similar are your views on romantic love?

Advait: Very dissimilar. Having a partner is a part of life and not one of its goals.

Gajra: I believe in forever and he believes in the here and now. I am hoping he will change as he finds the right person. He is happy being single for now.

Your views on marriage?

Gajra: If both partners put the other before themselves, it’s bliss. 

Advait: I like the idea more than actually have faith in it. I question both its need and execution in modern society.  

love for an ideal

Advait, what motivated you to write on Siddhartha?

Advait: I think my quarter life crisis, and a search for purpose drove me to ask a lot of questions of the world. I researched a lot and found it remarkable that the questions of Siddhartha were so relevant even two millennia later.

While writing your book, did anything make you think of your mother?

Advait: Yes, probably when I had to wrap my head around the unconditional bond between Siddhartha and his mother (incidentally, he was brought up by his aunt Prajapati as his biological mother Mahamaya died soon after giving birth to him... but no more spoilers!). Mom often says, "You can't understand the emotions of a mother." It's irritating at the time, but it is so true. 

Will being in the same profession give rise to competition?

Gajra: Competition...what’s that?

Advait: I’d be happier for her success than my own. I’m a proud son

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