By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Mumbai, May 22 (IANS) Terming herself a strict mother, veteran
actress Jaya Bachchan confesses that the love and respect her children
give her are "more important to me than any other kind of success in
"Motherhood means everything to me," asserted Jaya, who gave up
tinsel town after vintage hits like "Koshish" and "Guddi" and returned
to the screen only after her children had grown up.
"I don't care what the world thinks as long as my children have
faith in me. My children are more important to me than even my husband
(Amitabh Bachchan)," Jaya told IANS in an interview.
Hoping she had passed on "decent values" to her children, the
actress added: "The name, fame, glamour...it all vanishes. What
survives is goodness."
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Most people see you as 'Mother No.1' in the film industry.
A: Motherhood means everything to me. My children are more important
to me than even my husband.
Q: You gave up you career at its peak. Was it for marriage or
A: Definitely motherhood. I come from a home where my mother was
always around. Just her presence gave me a lot of strength. I became
the person that I am because of her. Mothers don't have to teach you
anything. Instinctively, a child imbibes values and mannerisms from the
mother. From the way you eat to the way you treat people, your mother's
influence is always there, regardless of whether she exercises the
influence or not.
Q: Are you a very strict mother?
A: Very. I'm an extremely strict mother. And it isn't because my
children were susceptible to being spoilt. We never allowed that. We
were in a joint family. My children and my bother-in-law's children
grew up together. They played and ate together, went to the same
school. They had a normal life. They knew their parents were
celebrities - we didn't hide it from them. But they didn't know what
that celebrity entailed.
They were aware that there was public interest in them when they
went out. But we made sure they grew up with the celebrity status being
a normal state of being. We never had to explain their identity to
them. Amitji and I have been honoured but never dazzled by our
celebrity. As a couple, we've ensured that our children don't
compromise or denigrate it.
Q: How careful were you to give your children Abhishek and Shweta a
A: I may be wrong, but I very strongly feel a guardian must be at
home constantly. It could be a parent or an aunt or uncle. The presence
at home needn't be gender-driven.
Q: But in our society it's generally the mother who stays at
A: I agree that is the norm. But let me tell you, when I decided to
pause my career to look after my children, I never saw it as a
sacrifice. The love, affection and respect the children give me today
are more important to me than any other kind of success in the world. I
don't care what the world thinks as long as the children have faith in
me. Doesn't that apply to all parents? I don't think I'm an
extraordinary mother. I come from a decent middleclass family. I've
just behaved normally with my children.
Q: To behave normally in the film industry isn't a normal thing to
A: I don't think that's true. You're giving the film industry an
unnecessarily abnormal tinge. In fact, the families in our film
industry are very normal. I'm not saying the industry is perfect. It
just seems more imperfect than other areas of activity because of the
constant media attention. I'm fortunate to have come from a decent
family. That's why I could give decent values to my children.
Q: Your father (Taroon Kumar Bhaduri) was an eminent journalist. Was
he around to watch you grow up?
A: He was out making a living for his large family. But I never felt
that my father wasn't around. I never felt the need for anything that I
didn't have. I was very happy with my life. I was very proud of my
parents. I hope my children remain that way.
Q: Are you a good daughter?
A: I try to be. I'm very duty-conscious. And I've become even more
so now after marriage because Amitji is very conscious of his duties
towards his parents. I've in fact learnt to be more duty-conscious
through my association with the Bachchan family. I've been married for
34 years. It's a lifetime. I've lived longer with this family than I
have with mine. From my own parents I've imbibed goodness and
simplicity. God has been very, very kind to me. I hope I've given back
to my children the values I've imbibed from both my families.
But I know they've a long way to go. When they were growing up, I
always told my children it didn't matter how they did in their exams.
It's what they made of themselves as human beings that mattered. I
remember when I was a child there were always a lot of red marks on the
report card in some subjects, but the conduct column was always very
good. That made my father very happy. He always said a good strong
person has a better chance of survival in this world. I hope I've been
able to give all these values to my children. The name, fame,
glamour...it all vanishes. What survives is goodness.
Q: Do you believe that family always comes first?
A: Sometime good friends can be family too. When people originally
said 'family first', we lived in a smaller society. Now the family has
to be a lot larger. You have to be more generous.
Q: Now that Shweta is in Delhi and Abhishek is constantly on the
move, do you miss them?
A: I miss their physical presence. Having them in the house is so
reassuring. But I'm happy being on my own as well. I'm not a
disgruntled person. My children used to be in boarding schools, but
they were never really away from me. Thank god for cell phones. That
instrument irritates me, but it plays a vital part in connecting me to
the ones I love the most.
Q: What do you think of the way mothers are projected in our
A: Very stereotypical till recently and that was sad. Mothers have
changed. And why just mothers in our films? Look at our mythology and
real-life families where the matriarch had so many avatars and facets.
But the portrayal is changing. In fact, there's hardly a mother in
today's films except in Karan Johar's cinema.