By Shilpi Madan
Popular actress, VJ and host, Shruti Seth sprang to fame with her rather lovable rendition of Jiya Malhotra in the telly soap Shararat. Followed many more memorable outings in Comedy Circus, Suite Life of Karan and Kabir. and blockbusters in Fanaa, Rajneeti.
Known to speak her mind, Shruti is married to film maker Danish Aslam (of Break ke Baad, and Time-Out web series fame) and describes herself perfectly in her Insta bio as “sybarite, lover of pockets, Earl Grey tea & wit” .A 90’s girl forever. Excerpts from a chatty, freewheeling conversation with Express Parenting:
How old is Alina now? And how’s it going, balancing work, home, baby…?
Five. It’s going great. I am blessed to have a fabulous support system. Danish has flexi work hours like me. My mother lives close by. Almost all the women in my friends circle are mothers and we double up as each other’s support system all the time. Alina thrives in this circle of love. I am relaxed at work as I know that she is in great hands, when I am away. This helps me to function well.
One skill that she has perfected of late?
Reading books. Earlier Danish and I were reading out to her. Now Alina has started reading books back to us. It feels beautiful. Also she is going through the “I want to be like my mom” phase and I want to make sure I set a sound example (laughs). I go for yoga and that one-and-a-half hour is sacrosanct for me and she knows it. I keep explaining to her that one needs to be strong and build up stamina to be able to multi-task efficiently. I try to ration gadget time. Instead, I encourage her to play outdoors, make use of her own imagination.
Does she listen to you?
Oh yes. Alina is a happy-go-lucky kid. She is very vocal about her emotional status and we chat aplenty. I am indulgent, but discipline her when required. She tells me clearly what she loves and doesn’t love about me! I feel children need to be made aware of what import their words and consequent actions carry.
When you share pictures on Instagram, are you wary, keeping in mind the backlash trolls meted out not so long ago?
There are love and blessings for Alina from many more people. I believe there are a lot of good souls out there. Sometimes, I just feel like sharing the special moments with those who revel in them as much as I do. That is why I put up some pictures now and then.
You have worked aplenty with kids on sets. Does that give you an edge in understanding child psychology?
I have always liked kids, but have never been very indulgent with my co-stars. They need to be professional on sets. I have always made it clear that there is no room for bad behaviour or tantrums at all. What helped me is the amount of reading I did when I was pregnant. It opened up many perspectives.
One truth that you have realised now as a mom?
We carry voices in our heads, of our parents. These lead our thoughts. I want to lead in good, positive voices inside Alina’s head. I want her to blossom. I do not want to transmit my apprehensions or fears to her.
What do you find yourself telling her often?
That losing and winning is a part of life. You cannot win all the time. Be prepared to lose as well. It is fine. Ideally, I would like to protect her from every scrape and fall, but that is not possible. Often, I have howled loudly in my room when she has got hurt, with Danish yelling at me in disbelief. But I cannot help it. It breaks my heart to see her get hurt, to be in pain.
So you are all heart?
Yes. I am all heart, and Danish is all head. He is the more practical soul.
One thing that your mom told you that you tell Alina now?
Nobody will ever love you the way I do. I keep telling her that I will love her unconditionally, always.
What does motherhood mean to you?
A gorgeous science experiment unravelling beautifully, bit by bit, everyday. It is amazing to see so much of myself in Alina. When she and Danish are laughing together, the way her nose crinkles up and she giggles is just like me, or when she sits on the couch in a pose that is exactly like Danish…I savour every moment as the three of us knit ourselves together in love. It is tough to explain the emotional whirl.
No! There are too many of us on the planet. Yes, as part of the evolutionary plan, we have had Alina. But if possible I would like to adopt a child. Just the other day Alina told me rather solemnly “I will not become a mama. There are so many children who have no mama. I will be their mama when I grow up.”
I visit a therapist every month as I want to be a better mama. I do not wish to transmit my phobias to Alina.
Like my mother had a phobia of darkness, and wouldn’t let me go out at night. It was a standing joke in my friend circle that my mother would call me endlessly if I were out in the evening. I wish to correct myself, to be able to evolve better as a parent, and make the changes for the positive, in my own self.
You’re 41. One confession as mom to a five-year-old?
It is so exhausting! Alina sleeps early, by 8 pm and that is when I get time to myself, till I nod off by 11.30 am, but she is up at 7.30 am! I am struggling to get up, with burning eyes. Then her nanny gets her ready and I drop her off for school. Leaping around for rides at Disneyland, simply keeping up with a child demands insane energy levels…but I love it all.