By Shilpi Madan
She has just wrapped up the shoot for Student of the Year 2, the much awaited sequel to the earlier blockbuster by Dharma Productions. Actress Manasi Joshi Roy is experiencing a phase of well-deserved, sheer contentment. Her return to the telly last year was marked by the serial Dhai Kilo Prem, and now that her daughter Kiara is all of 16, Manasi is game to take up more projects, to add to her rich repertoire spanning Kkusum, Saaya and Gharwali Uparwali.
You returned to the screen after almost a decade. No regrets?
None. I took a break from work when Kiara was six and I feel it has been the best decision I have ever made. That time with my daughter was very important, as it consolidated my relationship with her. Not that now that I have started working again, my relationship is not the same. But at that time, I feel I made right decision. I always feel working along with parenting is possible, given the dynamics are in place, like the support system, age of your child, your working hours. Also, as a matter of fact, a lull set into my work when Kiara was six. Nothing interesting was coming up. So perhaps everything happened for the best.
So you wanted to work as well, eventually then, after your almost decade long break?
Yes. See, my mother was always a working mother yet I never felt neglected. I have tried to be the same with Kiara. I shower her with love and care. Just as my brother Sharman (Joshi, the actor) and I always had the warmth and security of loving parents while we were growing up, Rohit and I want to give the same warmth and security to our child.
How involved is your husband, Rohit (Roy, the actor) in Kiara’s upbringing?
He is very clued in. He even knows the names of each of her friends and keeps track of where she is when.
In what way has Kiara taken after her dad?
(laughs) Both of them are so fashion conscious. They invest a lot of time in their appearance and clothes. As for me, it is a nuisance to go shopping again and again, so I pick up everything in one go and then couldn’t be bothered to get more stuff, for a while. I am more cool and relaxed.
One rule that you have relaxed now that Kiara is a teenager?
Well, no allowance for her as it is too soon and anyway we take care of all her needs. But recently, she got money from her grandmother and relatives on Diwali and her eyes were as round as saucers when she calculated the total amount. Suddenly she wanted to keep “her money” (laughs). The awareness is now setting in. We let her keep it. Then, of her own choice, she shopped for gifts online for underprivileged kids as part of an NGO intiative. So her heart is in the right place.
She never wanted a sibling?
Kiara is luckily very close to her cousins, and has a great group of friends. She is happy without a sibling as she enjoys our undivided attention. She is the centre of Rohit and my universe.
So what do you girls do together?
Over the last couple of years, our relationship has deepened. Like I often read a book in her room while she is doing her own thing (and now often get thrown out on account of teen privacy!). We do online shopping (though all she needs is my credit card!) and generally chat about everything.
Do you allow sleepovers?
Yes. We have known the same set of parents for the past 12 years. I drop and pick her up mostly. Kiara’s safety matters more to me than the deadline. A little late while being dropped back after dinner – I am fine with, but I need to know who, what, when, where, how.
And yes, once Kiara reaches the location, she must call me. Then, once again, when she is leaving. That is a rule.
Your pet quibble?
Her lack of sleep. I always feel she does not get enought sleep. It is always “five minutes, mom” as she is up late fiddling with her phone or finishing up school projects. Her lack of sleep is always a bone of contention with me.
The best part about being a mom?
Kiara is my raison d’etre. The reason for my existence, as I often tell her (smiles warmly).