The Dirty Picture is just six days away from release and Vidya Balan is everywhere, her ‘latkas’, ‘jhatkas’ and ‘thumkas’ earning her the tag of Bollywood’s newest sex symbol. But a few days ago, when we connected on the phone, our conversation started with baby talk.
Hold it, Vidya’s not ‘expecting’ anything apart from a rocking hit. But these days, besides Silk, her life revolves around Ira and Ruhaan. Ira, another name for Saraswati, was named after her grandmother while Ruhaan’s connected with the soul. Vidya, who is playing a pregnant woman in her next film Kahani returned home from a start-to-finish schedule in Kolkata to the good news that her sister was pregnant. The twins were born on Independence Day and since then, Vidya’s turned into a doting ‘maasi’ (aunt) or rather, a second mummy.
“I come home from promotions at 2 am to find one of the babies awake and immediately send my sister off to grab some sleep. Being with my nephew and niece is so de-stressing and fills me with energy. I can play with them all night,” she admitted, adding that recently when she was out of town for four days, she insisted her sister send her pictures of the twins twice a day because she didn’t want to miss out on any special moments.
Little things fill her with wide-eyed wonder... like the sucking of a thumb or the babble of a baby’s voice in sleep. “I never thought I had even one maternal bone in my body, but Paa (2009) and now these two little angels have changed me for life. I remember waiting anxiously outside the labour room and then the nurse walking out with them. I couldn’t believe my sister had been walking around for six months with these two squeezed into her stomach,” she reminisced with a laugh.
Her words brought back a flood of memories for me too… I remembered waiting anxiously for my daughter’s first cry, and then the wails becoming a part of our lives. Especially at nights, little Ranjika liked me sitting up all night keeping watch over her, and to ensure I didn’t nod off, she would lay sprawled on me… I remembered how the title track of Janmabhoomi, a long-running Bengali soap, would make her gurgle and Amitabh Bachchan on Kaun Banega Crorepati, blush coyly. I remembered being told by her kindergarten teacher that I needed to tame my Phoolan Devi because the other kids were refusing to come to school because she swatted at them if they tried to dislodge her from the slide or swing in play school… I remembered.
Vidya cut into my flashback to tell me how they’d bought her sister a book to guide her through the fourth trimester. “But it only made her stress and one day, when she started hyperventilating, we threw the book out and decided to follow our instincts rather than this information overload. A woman doesn’t have to be a doctor, but a mother,” she pointed out.
Her words reminded me of a know-all tome that my husband had gifted me too, which was now lying long forgotten in some dark corner. Everyday has been a day of trial-and-error and in the process of trying to decipher my daughter’s smiles and sighs, her tears and tantrums, I have discovered a little person who never fails to spring surprises.
“In our case the discovery is twice as sweet,” Vidya pointed out. “Have a baby soon,” I urged. “Hey, I have to get married first,” she retorted, sounding every inch the conservative South Indian girl that she is. And I knew that Silk was not here to stay.