Exclusive interview: Pooja Bedi opens up about her life in Goa, being honest with her children and building a wellness startup
FROM BEING A popular actress to a homemaker, mother and television host, Pooja Bedi has swiftly moved from one role to another. But, what sets her apart is the fact that she is fully aware of her strengths and flaws and owns her life like nobody else. We sat down for a virtual chat with Pooja, who spoke to us about her life in Goa (where she lives with her fiancé Maneck Contractor), making the most of the abundant time in hand during the pandemic, and the importance of acknowledging our emotions and prioritising our needs. Excerpts:
Q: The last few months have panned out differently for different people. How have you coped with the new normal?
I have always believed that sh*t happens and it is not just the lockdown but along the course of our life. I was in my 20s when I lost my mother and brother, and along the way my grandmother died, my dog died, my marriage broke off… And, it is not just my story, everyone goes through them at some point in life but it is how you respond to each of these events that shape you and your way forward.
A lot of people found the reset button in their lives amid the pandemic where they sat back and re-evaluated their priorities. There were so many people who improved their relationship, others who acknowledged that they were in a bad relationship and chose to make an exit, while there were those who were busy in the rat race and chose to downsize their life and work at a place that offers a better work-life balance.
So, there were some who chose to ride along with the wave but some got crushed under the wave but again it is about how you chose to respond to the situation.
But, how was it for you?
For me, it has been incredibly productive because I have got my health and wellness venture Happy Soul up and running during the course of this pandemic. I was working 14-15 hours a day every single day, making the most of it. Having said that, lockdown is not a productivity contest to say see how much I got done. Whatever you did, whether you slept or learned how to cook, if you gave your 100 per cent, it is good.
Q: Tell us about your wellness venture?
Happy Soul is basically a wellness wonderland and it offers everything you need for your wellness, whether it is organic beauty products for your skin and body or essential oil or baby care products or books. Additionally, it offers a series of healing and wellness services — therapy, neuro-linguistic programming, pranic healing, Zumba classes, spa and gym. We also have a section dedicated to wellness recipes and another for blogging that features articles on stress management, sex life and raising adolescents. Plus, we also have a travel section that offers adventure, detox, retreat, spiritual and eco-friendly trips.
Q: Talking about skincare, what’s your routine? And, are there any skincare tips you passed down to Alaya, that she now swears by?
I am 50-years-old now, so it has been a long journey of trying and testing various things. In fact, we are very lucky today to have the kind of products that are there in the market today. For the longest time, as a child, my mother would mix glycerin and rose water and put it in a bottle and I would put that on my face when I was in my boarding school (in Himachal Pradesh) because it would be very cold there. And, as I grew older, I was told about the benefits of coconut oil and I would rub that on my face. So, my routine keeps changing.
When it comes to Alaya, she and I have very different skin types and therefore whatever works for me may not work for her. Having said that, she is meticulous about her skincare regime, which I am not. I would some times go to sleep with my make-up on if I am too tired or I may not tone my face on certain days but she is on point with her products and routine. She has got the best products and she doesn’t compromise on her skin at all.
Q: You have moved to Goa recently. How is life there treating you?
In Bombay, I lived near the ocean; so, in Goa, I wanted to have a bigger land with a lot of outdoor space, a well, trees, herbs and a pool — that’s the kind of home I have here. I moved to Goa in 2016 and since then, my life is pretty much based here. My office is set up here. My fiance lives here. And, I love Goa because it has a lot of greenery and the environment is very cosmopolitan.
Q: There was a show on YouTube, Eff N Bedi, where we would see Alaya giving you relationship advice. Does it ever happen now?
(Laughs) With both my children, I share a happy, fun, mad, open and outspoken relationship. I have been divorced for 17 years and since then I have been in a few relationships and they have seen it through. They have been very close to every single person I have had a relationship with and Maneck (Contractor) is very much a part of their lives.
In fact, just before Maneck came into my life, one day Alaya told me ‘Mumma listen, look at papa. He is now married to someone else and also has a child. He has settled down. I think you should settle down as well’. (Laughs)
Q: Do we hear wedding bells anytime soon?
I am hopelessly romantic and wanted to get married but when I met Maneck, he brought so much togetherness and grounding that the thought of ‘I must get married’ has kind of disappeared. It might sound strange but I don’t have this need to be married anymore because I feel married. I felt committed in every possible sense so marriage now would be a formality to sign on a piece of paper or a ceremony to make other people happy because in our hearts, we are together for life…
Q: You received a lot of appreciation for Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar. Why didn’t we see you doing more films?
Back then, I was just a sexy girl. And, when sexy girls get married, they can’t play sexy girls anymore because you officially belong to someone else now. The world was different back then — actresses wouldn’t even open up about their relationships.
It was a conscious decision that I made to get married and a conscious decision to get away from my world in films. My attitude in life has always been to give 100 per cent to what I am doing and so I was busy being the best wife and mother.
Q: Do we see you making a comeback now?
I have done a guest appearance as a therapist in Masaba Masaba. It is a very sweet and cute role. I am about to start shooting for another series soon. And, I have just auditioned for a role with another Netflix project. So, let’s see.
Q: Lastly, being someone who has seen life in various shades, what would be your advice to young girls out there?
We are spiritual beings who have come on this planet for a human experience, so enjoy it. It is important to acknowledge every emotion that you feel and it is okay to make mistakes because you will learn from them. It is okay to turn around and want to change your situation. It is okay to break your conditioning and prioritise yourself. Respect your needs first before you can be there for anyone.