Raveena Tandon© HelloIndia

Raveena Tandon On Marriage, Motherhood And Movies

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Puja Talwar

Despite being a mother to an 18-year-old on the brink of her big screen debut, Raveena Tandon defies the stereotype of a typical star mother. With her age-defying beauty and infectious energy, she appears just as fresh as she did 33 years ago when she burst onto Hindi film screens in Patthar Ke Phool.

With a glimmer of pride for her daughter Rasha in her deep kohl-rimmed eyes, Raveena addresses her daughter’s initiation into the industry she herself grew up in with her customary bluntness. “Make your mistakes and learn from them. It will be the hardest lesson for you, but that’s what will hold you in good stead,” she says, revealing that she has no words of wisdom to impart to her daughter or any newcomer on how to navigate the business. “It is important to stumble and fall. If I keep holding you before you fall, you’re never going to learn,” she says, practically. “At the end of the day, it’s the audiences that decide whether you’re here to stay or it’s time to pack up.”

Raveena Tandon©HelloIndia

Truer words were never spoken, as her winning career trajectory and journey stand testimony to that. Though from a film family herself (her father was producer-director Ravi Tandon), Raveena emphasises, “I was not a part of any film camps, I had no godfather guiding me. I have ended up irking people because I spoke my mind and was not a people pleaser. I bore the brunt of it for a while, but I am happy where I am.”

How This Shehar Ki Ladki Reinvented Herself

Reflecting on the preparation young actors undergo, including workshops and image-building exercises, Raveena remarks, “We didn’t have all that. I was 17 when I shot my first film. I learnt along the way. I had no guidance. My parents never interfered in what I signed, and my manager and I were of the thought: big producer, big director and big actor, you just signed on to the project.”

Confessing that the biggest challenge came in breaking perceptions, she reflects on her status as a matinée idol of the ’90s, often associated with titles from her songs, like the Mast Mast girl or Shehar ki Ladki. “I realise I was always playing the rich bratty girl, mouthing the same dialogues, nothing changed except my costume. After a time it hit me that I could no longer do this, but it was a hustle because the directors perceived you in a certain way. Ram Gopal Varma told me, ‘I close my eyes and see you doing Ankhiyon Se Goli Maare.’ It took me a long time to convince people, but I swore never to fall into that repetitive cycle again, and had to push my boundaries, just to know my limits as an actor.”

Raveena Tandon©HelloIndia

From portraying a victim of domestic abuse in Daman to depicting a corrupt politician in Satta, the actor opted to reinvent herself across various mediums and genres, transitioning from films to OTT platforms. Making her digital debut in Arayank in 2021, she returns to the streaming space in Disney+ Hotstar’s Karmma Calling. In the series, she portrays the hardened and calculating Indrani Kothari, a former Bollywood diva turned influential member of Alibaug’s high society, adept at manipulating people for her interests. “I am nothing like this character, so that was the thrill of playing this rather complex woman. The only point of connection is, like her, I can kill for my family.”

A Time For Reflection

Following her marriage to film producer Anil Thadani in 2004 and the birth of her children, Rasha and son Ranbir, Raveena took an active break from films. Describing it as a transformative phase of her life, she devoted herself to her family, relishing the joys of motherhood and nurturing a sense of balance between her personal and professional life. “I had the invaluable opportunity to be present for my children during their formative years; I didn’t miss any milestone. It was a period of personal growth, self-reflection, and finding a new sense of purpose.”

Today, Raveena skillfully balanced her commitments, ensuring she actively participated in her children’s lives while still finding time for her personal pursuits. “I love gardening, it brings me joy. I’m always tied up with household duties — my husband, children, parents, and our army of pets, including my dogs. Maintaining this balance is crucial for me as it contributes to a sense of fulfillment in both my personal and professional life. It provides me with a stress-free way to tackle whatever life brings, both personally and professionally.”

Married for nearly two decades, she unveils the secret to sustaining a robust relationship in an industry rife with break-ups. “Honesty, faith, companionship, and trust are the foundations of a successful relationship. And above all, communication.”

Friendships From The Industry

Unapologetically forthright, Raveena has often called out patriarchy, ageism and sexism in the industry. She’s pleased with the changing times, as the current generation of Bollywood actresses lead from the front and strike a balance between marriage and motherhood. She believes that an actor in her prime has enjoys a myriad of opportunities in terms of her art and talent. “We are living in very good times, especially for female actors. I remember probably 25 or 30 years ago, once a female actor got married, her career was kind of over. She would stop getting lead roles or main lead roles. She’d either be cast as the sister or mother, and the journey would end. But these days, there are great opportunities, with excellent scripts being written for female actors across all ages, and I think it’s just a wonderful change. Alia, Deepika and Priyanka are so uniquely talented,” says the actress.

Raveena Tandon©HelloIndia

Contrary to the stories circulating at the time, she shares a strong camaraderie with her peers. “There was a lot of stuff written about rivalries, but these were fed by tabloids. We were all unique — Karisma, Tabu, Manisha. I’ve got a bunch of amazing friends in the industry, from the enchanting Madhuri Dixit to the ever-graceful Shilpa Shetty, and the unforgettable Sridevi was also a dear friend,” she reveals.

Known for her signature hoops, high ponytail and kohl-rimmed eyes in the ’90s, she admits fashion for her goes beyond trends. From exquisite handlooms to sharp silhouettes, flowy dresses and smart pantsuits, she says her signature style can be best described as comfort. “You have to be comfortable and confident. Over the years, my style has been a mix of classic and contemporary elements. It’s all about expressing yourself authentically and feeling good in your skin.”

So, what sets her apart from her generation of actors? “I was willing to experiment,” she says, signing off with her unmistakable candour.

Photos: Rohn Pingalay

This article has been adapted for the website from the March 2024 issue. Grab your copies here.