The traditional Indian grandmother— that undemanding paragon redolent of the aroma of the kitchen, who, even when she was educated, selflessly devoted herself to the family functioning as an unpaid nanny for her grandchildren — is changing. Naturally, the way these venerated figures are depicted in popular cinema is also changing. Unlike the strict Lalita Pawar dadi amma who was the keeper of traditional values and often needed to be mollified in song, the modern grandmother is much like the character in Vicky Donor, this season's unexpected hit -- feisty, progressive and intent on living on her terms.
Many contemporary grandmothers are youthful, both physically and mentally, and intend to stay that way. A few of them are at the pinnacle of their careers and are more likely to be locked in a boardroom meeting than in a corner of the home. The ones who have retired are often focused on enjoying the fruit of their accomplishments and savouring the freedom that maturity brings. "Age has nothing to do with enjoying life," says theatre personality and actor Arundhati Nag who believes that while previous generations of older women were forced to conform to a stereotype, modern grandmothers can break the mould. "Now they know how to negotiate their way in life. They have understood their bodies and minds well and have lived through all sorts of relationships. They should be in love with themselves," she adds. Gone are the subdued saris and salwar suits and the conservative knot of hair at the nape. Many older women now dress young, opt for the latest hairstylesand are not shy about shaking a leg at a party or openly enjoying a tipple.
Still others have finally found the time to indulge their lifelong passion for travelling, mountain climbing or scuba diving in as yet unexplored parts of the world."This indicates an overall emancipation," says psychologist Sanjay Chug who believes the new age grandmother is a reflection of how much the middle class Indian woman has changed."It is a reflection of a change in the self esteem of women.They are now moving towards experiencing new roles," he says.
That society is completely in sync with this development can be gauged from the audience's rapturous response to Vicky Donor's biji who sits back every evening to enjoy a drink with her daughter-in-law, chuckles when her grandson says it isn't necessary to get married to have children, and demands an iPhone with 32 GB memory. The up-to-date grandma is available to her family but on her own terms. Perhaps that's why the audience, which comprises individuals familiar with similarly ebullient personalities within their own families, too appreciates her more.
"I workout six times a week"
A sports lover, Kapur is a grandmom to two school going kids, the fiesty lady feels that life in 60's is encouraging for her. To keep herself energetic through the day, she starts her mornings with gymming, yoga and some good music. Dining out, playing bridge and snooker regularly keeps her upbeat. She admits, "I enjoy looking good and being fit. Working out six days a week is my secret. I try to match up to the energy levels of my grandchildren. I have worked all my life for agencies, government organisations and social causes. Now I want to spend all my time on myself." Kapur feels there are less inhibitions and insecurities at this stage in her life. About her growing up years, she says, "My parents were very progressive but we weren't allowed to cross the line. A love marriage or talking to a guy wasn't as common as it is now. I belonged to the sandwich age, which had values on the top and your choice on the bottom. We went to western schools but we had to abide by rules. That used to put me off. When I got married to the man I wanted to, I had to convince my parents." Kapur believes that being content is most important no matter what your age. The die-hard romatic confesses her love for Bollywood and admits she is looking forward to catch the soon to be released Cocktail.
"I love partying and travelling"
A grandmother of two, Nayar feels she has worked all her life. She says, "Being a business woman, a model in my teens and a jewellery designer always kept me busy. I have always been a work-orientated person but now I am taking it easy and love to spend my time with a relaxing workout, dining out with friends, partying or travelling." Meera who loves to explore newer things in her life now shares, "I didn't know what was going to be a 60 plus. When it happened I loved it even more. I thought I would be eternally young. Today I love getting involved with my grandchildren in their cool ideas and plans like throwing theme house parties." A firm believer in living up your life she says, "Being fit and looking good is a priority for me even now. I do yoga, meditation, and swimming. I believe there is nothing wrong for ladies going for a Botox till the time they know it is safe. For me now is the time to indulge in life."
"I have another identity besides being a grandmother of four"
Singh had a blast turning 60 recently and she threw a grand party to celebrate it. She says, "When I had my first grandchild something clicked inside me and I thought of trying everything I was scared of like paragliding, bungee-jumping." She adds, "There is no age to look beautiful. It's completely your choice. Dull colours are a big no no for me. A red, a bright pink and a yellow is a must in my wardrobe." About the choices she made in her life she says, "I had a love marriage. I allowed my kids to do what they wanted to." Singh believes that since now she is done with her responsibilities she can devote all her time to herself. Once in a while I let my hair down and dance the night away. A margarita has always been my favourite at parties. I also love reading the latest fashion glossies and get gung-ho about watching films like Delhi Belly or Dirty Picture with my grandchildren." About her equation with her teengrand daughter she says, "I would prefer if my granddaughter comes and shares her secrets with me rather than a stranger."
"I go pubbing with my grandkids"
Often called Indie by friends, Indira is an entrepreneur in the aviation industry. She shuttles between Delhi and London but takes time out to holiday once a year with her teenaged grandchildren. Being trained as a beautician in her 20's, she still uses her expertise on herself. She says, "I got married in late 30's. I still dress like young girls and like wearing a backless blouse, or a corset. I love exploring the latest gadgets and spend most of my day on my Ipad and Blackberry." Indira feels that now that the life has taken a big leap ahead she can be truly herself and loves to shake a leg at parties. She says, "I am a movie buff and like pubbing with my grandchildren." Indie admits that she gets conscious when people hit on her grand daughters but says, "I let them be as they are smart enough to deal with it."