Actor Divya Dutt’s forever connection with her mother
Gippy and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag actor Diya Dutta talks of the emotional bond in her recently launched audio book Me and Ma
During the pandemic lockdown when Bollywood actor Divya Dutta began to record her book, Me and Ma, she could not go beyond two days. “I had to take a break and resume as I cracked up reliving my childhood memories and the intensely dynamic relationship I shared with my mother through the phases of my life,” she says.
Holding the dream
The 43-year-old talks of the bond between mothers and children as “the first ever and the most beautiful relationship in life.” Her book is about the journey with her mother, who raised her as a single parent in small town Sahnewal near Ludhiana and led her to Mumbai as a successful actor.
“Ours is a family of doctors and acting as a profession was never even a topic for discussion,” says Divya. Her father passed away at 36 when she was six years old. From then on it was her mother’s struggles to help mould her into the woman she is today.
Her father’s demise made their life daunting. “It was left to my mother to applaud my interests and build my confidence; she was alone in going against the wishes of the two families,” says Divya on a telephone call from Mumbai after the launch of her audio book that first appeared in print four years ago after the death of her mother, Dr. Nalini Dutta, in 2016.
“I went into depression. I would return to my vanity van from shooting and howl. After finishing work, I would drive around the city crying for Ma and begging her to come back to me,” she recalls.
Divya credits her mother for helping build strong sibling love between her and her brother. It is that relationship that holds her today, along with a close network of loving friends. Divya’s brother is a hypnotherapist and she lives with his family now, doting on her five-year-old niece. “I see a reflection of my mother in me, when I am with with her,” she says.
The Veer Zara and Train to Pakistan actor says her mother was her BFF, her partner in crime, travel mate and twin soul. “We shopped, read, danced, dined and roamed the world together. Though we had different temperaments, we accepted each other for who we were. We understood mother-daughter relationship does not have to close off expressions of ideas of certain kind of behaviours.”
Divya says the health clinic her parents ran jointly was very popular in their town and both her parents kept busy schedules. She remembers the stillness of domesticity when her ophthalmologist father and gynaecologist mother unwound from days filled with work and responsibility. Yet, they had time for her and her three year younger brother. “I cherish and treasure those moments,” she says.
The turning point in her life was when her mother secretly brought her to Mumbai from Punjab for the Stardust Talent Hunt in 1994. She also wrote a mono-act for her that she performed in front of Bollywood biggies including Yash Chopra and Shekhar Kapur.
“When she left me at the auditorium she kissed me and said ‘give your dreams your best’. My grandmother was angry when I had once told her I wanted to join the film industry. She told me with my short height I would never make it, but my mother had an innate confidence in me,” says Divya. The call from Stardust training academy came two months later.
Just then her uncles got a prospective marriage alliance for her from an US-based doctor and there was pressure on her to accept. Yet again her mother stood up for her saying she was too young for marriage. In her book, Divya mentions several incidents where her mother fought like a tigress to keep her daughter’s passion from crumbling.
“After I shifted to Mumbai, I would call her 20 times a day seeking her advise on everything from my auditions, roles to dresses. No matter how busy she was in her clinic, she would always take the call and reassure me. Later, she sent my brother to study medicine in Mumbai so that we could be together,” says Divya.
Writing the book was a catharsis for Divya. It was also the time when Deepika Padukone came out about her depression. “I took to yoga and writing and in the process I felt the incredible bond that I had forged with my mother would help me see through my difficulties more than anything else,” she says.
During lockdown Divya did audio books for other authors and it struck her she could do hers as well. “The most difficult chapters to record were my last days with my mother as I could not control my tears. I relived my life and realised my mother never judged me; only gave me unconditional support and believed in my dreams, says Divya.”
When love, understanding, patience and communication remain at the core of the child-parent bond, life is less complicated and dreams take wings.
(Me and Ma is published by Penguin Random House)
In their book Good Enough Parenting, John and Karen Louis talk about the core emotional need for connection and acceptance that every child requires to become emotionally healthy adults. The best way to build connection with our children is by showing empathy (the ability to experience their outlook).
Based on a 10-year research period, psychologist John Gottman outlines in his book Raising an Emotionally Healthy Child – The Heart of Parenting, that children of parents who were able to express empathy and help process their emotions became emotionally intelligent individuals and fared well in emotional well-being, physical health, social competence and academic performance