'I never imagined I would be a father and complete my family without getting married.'
'I'm privileged that my parents supported me, a lot of people don't have that.'
Tusshar Kapoor tells Rediff.com's Ronjita Kulkarni about fatherhood and his son Laksshya.
""I'm super time managed," Tusshar Kapoor tells me as we sit in an office at Balaji Telefilms, the production house managed by his mom Shobha Kapoor and big sister Ekta Kapoor.
And it holds true.
The actor is punctual for his 2:30 pm interview appointment, timing it so that his newborn Laksshya is taking his afternoon nap during the time that he is out.
Talk about Laksshya, all of six months, and Tusshar's eyes light up.
"I won't say I'm a hands on father, but I'm a very involved father," he says. "I know how to do everything even though I don't do it. There's a nurse, but I'm always there. I'm monitoring him all the time. I'm the best dad you can find!"
Father and son recently went on their first international trip to Dubai.
"It was amazing for him, but hectic for me. We managed to get his visa just an hour before the flight! He was okay with travelling in the evening. He loved the villa where my parents were staying. There was a beach there. He loved the garden around the villa, the clean air..."
His mother Shobha Kapoor, Tusshar adds, has been planning the trip for three months.
They carried Laksshya's milk powder, the flask, the milk bottles, the pram, the toys, the baby washer, where he bathes...
'I'm not married yet, but I need to have family'
Tusshar has always had a paternal instinct, he says.
"It always came out towards dogs and pets. It was always at the back of my mind. I'm not married yet, but I need to have family. My parents need to become grandparents," Tusshar says as he narrates the story of how it all happened.
"I met (filmmaker) Prakash Jha on a trip to Tirupati and he told me how I can be a single father through surrogacy. He has some friends who have tried this," Tusshar says. Jha even made Tusshar speak to a friend who has tried it.
Tusshar considered the idea for a few weeks and then went to Dr Firuza Parikh, director of IVF and Genetics at the Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai.
"There were a lot of apprehensions," he admits. "Firuza spoke to me and said it's legal, it's possible. She encouraged me."
It took him a month-and-a-half to finally make the decision.
"I was very nervous about the change in life, being probably the first celebrity single parent to have gone through surrogacy, what will the reactions be, what will people say. You may be sure of it, but we all think log kya kahenge. Being strong is hard," he says, adding that he was nervous even after the IVF process.
But it all changed when the baby came.
'I was shocked because the baby looked like a tadpole!'
The relationship with the baby started when it was still on the way, when Tusshar got to know the due date.
"Once that happened, when I learnt that my baby was coming in June, all the nervousness went out of the window. You start thinking about your responsibilities as a father and then somehow, the world doesn't matter," he says.
Tusshar started preparing the nursery, the cot, "doing all the procurement."
"My mother helped me a lot," he says. "I did all the Amazon buying and she started booking the nurses."
The baby was born at 10:50 pm on June 1, and Dr Parikh sent Tusshar pictures of the delivery room.
"I was shocked because the baby looked like a tadpole!" Tusshar exclaims. "I was like, he doesn't look like me! When he came home, settled down, I felt he looked like me! Of course, my father said he looks like my mother, my mother said he looks like her sister, I said he looks like me... everybody gave their opinions."
The baby came home at 6 am the following day and Tusshar, expectantly, spent the night without any sleep.
The actor announced the baby to the world almost a month later, after he had the birth certificate in hand.
'I can't just take off on a Friday, get wasted and come back. I don't want to do that anymore'
So what's a day like in Tusshar's new life?
Laksshya wakes up by 7:30 am, Tusshar wakes up an hour later.
They spend an hour together, then Tusshar heads to the gym.
After a shower, Tusshar spends about half an hour with him.
Tusshar goes to the office, does his work and rushes back by 3-3:30pm.
Laksshya wakes up at 4-4;30pm.
From 4 to 7:30 pm, till he sleeps, father and son are together. They go to the park or for a drive or play on the mat.
Then Laksshya goes to sleep, and Tusshar enjoys his me-time.
"I try to sleep by 11," Tusshar says. "I don't want to sleep late and wake up tired. I want to be fresh when I'm with him. You just start making these choices on your own when you have a baby! I'd rather read on the net about babies, or read a book or watch the news, than go out. I pick and plan the days when I go out with my friends for drinks. I can't just take off on a Friday, get wasted and come back. I don't want to do that anymore."
'He's become the baby of the house'
Tusshar says his own childhood was a "typical Mumbai" one.
"I would come back from school, play in the building, do my homework, go to sleep. Dad (legendary actor Jeetendra) would be at work, mom would be at home. It was a very middle class upbringing even though we were from Bollywood and dad was one of the top actors of the time. We had luxuries, but we mixed with kids from the building, from all stratas of society. We went to birthday parties, played Holi, Diwali like how the 1980s kids would. That's probably why the family is so close. We may not sit down together often, but we will always stand up for each other," he says.
And so, Tusshar's parents have been very supportive.
His mother was the first to know about the surrogacy.
"I told my mother two, three months after the IVF was successful," he says. "She told my dad and he was also very supportive. He said, 'It's okay if you want to marry later or even if you don't want to marry at all. Look at the marriages these days... there's no guarantee about what brings you happiness."
"Now, they are so obsessed with their grandson. They are my biggest support system. My mom is losing weight to be healthy for him. It has changed their life as well."
His sister Ekta spoils him a lot.
"She's always buying him gifts and clothes, which she picks up on her travels. I buy him toys as well, but I give him one toy for three, four weeks, so it's new for him. But she wants to give him everything. And that's okay. She's changed too... sometimes she has meetings at home so that she can be with him. He's become the baby of the house," Tusshar says with a chuckle.
It was Ekta who named him Laksshya after consulting her astrologer and numerologist.
Tusshar will leave his son for the first time when he goes on holiday to London this Christmas.
"My parents are there. But I'm feeling bad and very guilty," he says.
'Be convinced if you want to be a single parent'
What's the best thing about parenting?
"The best part is the focus in your life right now, everything else becomes immaterial. You're living for your child, and basically re-living your own childhood, and it makes your life less complicated," he explains.
"The tough part is that I've put on weight. I don't know how. Everyone says it's happy hormones!"
Tusshar says he doesn't find single parenting tough.
"Maybe I would have spent the same amount of time with my child even if I was married. There is female energy at home. I don't think he's missing out on that; he seems like a happy child. I'm giving him a lot of father's love, which all of us don't get enough of," he says.
Tusshar is the first Indian celebrity to have become a single father through surrogacy and though it's so commendable, he remains modest about it.
"Be convinced if you want to be a single parent. Don't do it because someone else has done it. Do what your heart tells you to do. Life is too short to not have a family, and children, whichever way you want to. It's important to live life to the fullest. Just follow your heart. That's what I did."
"I never imagined I would be a father through surrogacy and complete my family without getting married. That's probably an impossibility for many. I'm privileged that my parents supported me, a lot of people don't have that."
"There are single fathers through adoptions and divorce. India is pretty forward in that sense that the typical family structure is not always there. Maybe because I'm a celebrity, I may have done something different from the socio-cultural fabric of the country. That should encourage people to take that step."
"Again, my advice would be to not think about what India thinks or what your cousins think... it's more important what you think. If you accept yourself and your family structure, others will accept you."
'My son, when he grows up, is not expected to like or watch my work'
Tusshar will start shooting for the fourth installment of Rohit Shetty's Golmaal in January, and he's already planning for it.
"Since I'm shooting in Mumbai, if I get an hour off, I'll call him over to the shoot for lunch. He will be with my parents the rest of the time. I will have to find a way..."
The next schedule will be in Ooty.
"It's very disruptive for newborns to come out of routine," Tusshar says. "Just being in a room or roaming around in the lawn with the nanny is not a good idea. He needs to be with family. So I won't take him."
Will he stop doing adult comedies now that he's a dad?
"No. I will do the Kya Kool Hai Hums even now. Censorship will probably stop making me do adult comedy. Otherwise, it's my profession. I'll do whatever the audience accepts me in. My son, when he grows up, is not expected to like or watch my work. He can have his own movie choices. But he has to respect my work."
"This is the movie business and if I have to survive here, I have to do what works for me. He has to accept that. He doesn't have to spend Rs 150 and watch the movie."