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Mandira: Actresses younger than me are playing moms and grandmoms

Last updated on: May 29, 2013 19:00 IST

Image: Mandira Bedi
Photographs: Mandira Bedi/ Twitter Rajul Hegde in Mumbai
Mandira Bedi, who got a lot of attention for the noodle-strap blouses she wore while hosting the ICC world cup TV shows a decade ago, is back as an anchor for Sony Entertanment Television's singing reality show, Indian Idol Junior.

Bedi, who has acted in television serials like Shanti and Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, tells us about the new show, motherhood, her fitness regimen and future projects.

Do you think this is the right time for you to be back on TV hosting a kids' reality show?

There can't be a better time than now. They have picked me because I am a mother. Just now, a kid wanted a picture with me, and the kid's mother said, 'give her a kiss.'

I said, 'Mama ko kissi do." It comes automatically you know, mothers are like that.

I relate to children differently now. I am really enjoying this experience. Karan Wahi (her co-host) has the bad job of saying, 'Sorry beta, you are eliminated'. Yes, that is tough, but you get to see some amazing strength in children too.

Some of them take it with a smile and say they will come back next year. Children having such an amazing spirit is incredible.
Yes, we do have an emotional connect with contestants and feel sad when they are eliminated. For instance, a favourite contestant of mine didn't make it. I felt very sad, so I told Karan to go and handle it. It was not easy for me to meet the kid.

'I am doing fiction after nine years'

Image: Mandira Bedi

You are acting in a TV serial, 24 (Indian adaptation of the award-winning American TV series 24), after a long time.

I am not coming back in any saas-bahu soap. I play a government agent, a cop, in 24. I have shot for 10 days and will be shooting my part for another 45 days over four months.

It has been a great experience. I am doing fiction after nine years.

Abhinav (Deo) is an ad filmmaker and filmmaker. I love the way he thinks. He won't let any line get wasted.  Every line has to be loaded, and has a meaning. It makes me feel very alive as an actor. I have been doing theatre on and off for many years but nothing in front of the camera.
Have you watched the international show 24?

Yes, I have watched five seasons (smiles). I am playing the Nina Myers character. Tisca Chopra and actress Anita Raj play the other characters.

I think the show will premiere in August.

'My top priority is my child right now'

Image: Mandira Bedi, Raj Kaushal and Vir
Photographs: Mandira Bedi/Twitter
How do you balance work and family?

Before my son Vir was born, people used to ask me how I multi-task. But a husband and wife have little to do as compared to when they have a child. Then, you are really multi-tasking.

My top priority is my child right now. I make it a point to work on alternate days to spend time with my son.

Recently, I was shooting for three days at a stretch, and my son wouldn't let me go out of the room.

Last month was hectic because of auditions for Indian Idol and I was shooting for 24. I travelled with my son for auditions but when I am in Mumbai it's hard.

I leave for work early and come back late at night.

'The best thing I've done in life is give birth to my child'

Image: Mandira Bedi
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar
What made you take up a fiction show after nine years?

It had to be the right one. You won't believe it, but I got another offer for a daily soap which is also a remake of an American show the day 24 happened.

It was a terrific role but they wanted me to play a mother of a 20-year-old. I haven't played mother's roles earlier. This is what happens in television. So many actresses younger than me are playing moms and grandmoms.

I don't see myself there. It's not that I think greatly about myself. It's just that I don't relate to such characters. I chose 24 because I was excited, because I have seen the international format, and I wanted to work with Abhinav.

How has motherhood changed you?

When people ask what is the best thing that you have done in your life, I say giving birth to my child. I don't see any professional milestone when compared to this.

It's made me value my own mother so much. When I fight with her, I realise that when my son grows up and fights with me, I'll  feel really bad (smiles).
Tags: Abhinav

'I have lost weight for myself and not for any role'

Image: Mandira Bedi
Photographs: Uday Kuckian/
You look fit, how did you lose weight for 24?

Actually I am thinner than I was before. I am quite particular about my fitness. I'm not really into Yoga and meditation. Instead, I run, lift weights and do cardio. I do it for at least four-five days a week.

I have lost weight for myself and not for any role. But it was nice that I was ready for the role when they approached me for 24.
I wanted to get back in shape post-pregnancy. I lost weight within six months and toned up my body over the next few months.

How do you think television has changed in the last ten years?

There were lots of ups and downs because of somewhat regressive content. I think a lot of changes have come about with progressive shows too.

'I'm doing a film titled Oye Teri'

Image: Mandira Bedi
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/
Do you watch any reality show?

Yes, I like Master Chef India and Australia, Indian Idol, Nach Baliye and Jhalak Dikhhlaa Jaa.
Is there any role on TV that you would like to play?

I am all for strong roles. Yes (I would like to play) Carrie Mathison, a CIA officer in Homeland (the American TV series). She is crazy, and so much into her job. I think I was a cop in my last life or will be one in my next!
What do you have to say about the ongoing spot-fixing cricket controversy?

The IPL has been hurt but it is a strong brand.

Fixing of any kind, be it spot-fixing or match-fixing, hurts the game and the fans. The IPL carnival comes along once a year. I hope by next year the game will get cleaned up.
Are you doing any films?

Yes, I am doing a film titled Oye Teri. It's a political satire with Atul Agnihotri Productions. It has an ensemble cast and I play an interesting grey character.