By Priyanka Bhadani
Q. 1 You are again ready to discover the childhood homes of seven celebrities in your show, Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hai. You also grew up in a small town, Dhanbad. Any memories?
I studied in Dhanbad till the time I was in the sixth standard. After that, I went to a boarding school in Ranchi. My father was a police officer and we stayed in a government quarter in Dhanbad. Even now, whenever I see a government quarter, I become very nostalgic. Since such places are always ground floor, independent houses, flats and staircases have always been a novelty to me (laughs).
Q. 2 So anything else from your childhood home that excites you?
Yes. I really liked the concept of the terrace. It wasn’t a place where you could stay. It wasn’t a part of the main household. It was an area where diyas were lit-up in Diwali. In summertime, it doubled up as a place where you could put a khaat (coir bed) and chill.
Q. 3 How has your childhood home and its surroundings shaped you as an individual?
Your home has a great influence in your life. Of course, you come across a lot many things in life that make you what your are, but houses have a lot to do with who you are personality-wise. Childhood homes are a lot to do with your childhood friends you grew up with, your parents and family. Even today, I look for a corner that comforts me like my childhood home.
Q. 4 Is there a longing to go back to your childhood home and relive any of the moments?
I go there very often as my dad (who passed away a few weeks back) and mother have always lived in Dhanbad. My dad was one of the most learned persons I have known and thus when he passed away, I took my kids to our village for his funeral and told them many things that he had told me. I relived many moments and memories in the process. I realised that if I transmit those memories to my children, they too will develop a certain compassion for that place and time.
Q. 5 Did you have a secret place in your home?
It was outside the home. We were so many people living in the same house together that it wasn’t possible to have one inside. Outside the house, there were quite a few hideout zones — behind the garage, in the backyard, in the lanes… there were so many.
Q. 6 From a small town to studying in a boarding school in Bihar (now Jharkhand) and then going to the US for higher studies to finally settling down in Mumbai, what are the differences that you have discovered across cities?
At heart, I am still a small town boy despite spending a major part of my life in cities like New York and Mumbai. I have realised that people from the small towns have just one objective — to grow — financially, professionally and aesthetically. That’s the constant yearning for people there, while there’s a certain ease in big towns. The best example would be someone like Amitabh Bachchan (from Allahabad), who still has the hunger to do something new and create something fantastic. He has kept that small town boy alive in him throughout these years.
Q. 7 Through the show, have you discovered anything about homes that you found really interesting?
When I was talking to Mary Kom (she features in the first episode on September 7), she told me how as a kid she started helping her family members — mom, dad, sister — from the moment she woke up. When I asked her, ‘When did you rest then’? she replied, ‘In school’. I realised that school is the extension of our childhood. You are two different people — at home and in school. In fact, when I went to the homes of my school friends, most of the time I was surprised by the difference in behaviour at home. I could have never imagined my friends living in that space. You realise the importance of time and space through these experiences.
Q. 8 How did you feel when you visited Mary Kom’s home in Imphal? Any particular discoveries?
There were quite a few revelations for all of us when we visited her house. Life in Imphal, not just of Mary Kom, but in general, has been really cut-off from the rest of the country. The first reaction after reaching there is like, ‘Hey. this doesn’t seem like India’! But that’s the beauty of our country, that it is so diverse. You also realise how removed they have been both socially and politically, from the rest of the country. But then you discover that they are a part of us and everything that happens in the country affects them too. You develop a certain compassion for your countrymen who are so different from you.
Q. 9 Usually, what is the feeling when you go to a celeb’s childhood home with them?
Every time I visit their homes, I feel really privileged. You get to hear real stories that are so powerful. For instance, in Mary Kom’s case, I learnt about her struggle and how with sheer determination, grit and fortitude, she changed the tide in her favour. Her story not only moves you, but also encourages you to move ahead. Similarly, when we did an episode with Waheeda Rahman last year, and had gone to Vishakapatnam, we became friends on the flight and she started talking about her childhood which was very fascinating.
Q. 10 Not everybody is comfortable sharing persoal details. As a host, how do you make sure that your guests are at ease?
I don’t have a magic wand but I think what has worked so far is that I become the viewer in front of them. I am not a host who is trying to rake up a controversy. Also, my curiosity is natural and we don’t script the show. Whenever there’s an emotion, whether it is nostalgia, longing or anything else, I have felt it with my guests. It has not only helped me, but also the show.