Nandita Das wears many hats. She is a renowned actress, a reputed filmmaker, and a committed activist. At the moment she is reveling in her role as a full-time mother to her 9-year old son Vihaan.
Says Nandita, “I’ve always worked from home largely. So not much has changed for me. In fact, I’m enjoying this clean air and silence, no honking in Mumbai. I don’t have to go to the event. I’m not very social anyway. I am fortunate to have house-help, so I’m not cooking and cleaning. The only difference really is that my son is here 24/7 with me which has been wonderful because we have been spending quality time. Talking, playing, writing, and singing a bit!”
Mother & son are having the time of their life. “I am an early riser and work non-stop, with ample distractions from my son. I’m always there to answer his questions, to look at the new things he has made, and to share his little story in between. And then I spend focussed time with Vihaan after 5- 6 o’clock in the evening. Then after he goes to bed around 9, I work again till about 11 pm.”
But as a privileged Indian she cannot stare away from the reality outside the relative safety of her home. “There is a different reality out there and that starts to stare you in the face. We see images, read stories…it is heartbreaking. So, just coping with these two realities simultaneously has been a bit distressing.”
Nandita has no time at home to get restless or bored. “There is so much to do! Vihaan and I sometimes draw, do pottery and I’m learning some music. There is no time to be restless or to be bored. I have never slept in the afternoon, and that hasn’t changed in the lockdown.”
Is Nandita eating more? “Yes, one does tend to snack in between as well. But I did that before too, as I often worked from home. There are no real divisions between my work and life, or work and home, it is all here. There is a lot more time for introspection and reflection. I would like to see many more films, but forget about binging, I’ve barely been watching. Too much to do. I am doing many online conversations with various groups. And I feel this is the time to reach out and help each other.”
Nandita’s advice to people out there who look up to her? “It is a huge crisis and we will be better off if we accept it and use this time in ways we haven’t had the opportunity for. Hopefully, this time will never come again! We need to think about how we can live differently, consume differently, interact differently with people, who may not be part of our reality.”
Most importantly Nandita feels we need embrace a new self-realization in the post-Corona world. “Once the lockdown is over, what is going to be the new normal? Are we going to go back to our old ways of greed? Or are we going to respect nature more, care more about people who build our homes and work hard so that we can work well? If we do interesting things, reflect, help each other, read, watch, there will be no time to get bored or be anxious. We need to move away from the narratives that “other” people and recognise that we are all in this together. Now is the time to bring out our understanding, empathy and compassion.”