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Facing life with aplomb

Award-winning actress and popular theatre personality Kiron Kher, who was in the city recently, enthralled Chennai-ites with her vibrant conversation and positive approach to life.

SHE'S A woman of substance. Someone who has lived life on her own terms. Why else would she be part of a forum that seeks to empower women with knowledge for a more meaningful existence? Elle-ments hosted the vivacious personality recently at the Park Sheraton so that members of the club could gain insights into what went into making her what she is — a devoted mother, a lively wife, an accomplished theatre personality and actress with several awards to her credit, including the National Award for Best Actress. What's more, she has hogged the limelight on television as well with her issue-based talk show and is still ready to take on more challenges.

Born in Bangalore and brought up in Chandigarh, Kiron is probably someone with a pan-Indian outlook. A good badminton player, " I gave it up for theatre,'' she said.

"You could say that my life is one of interrupted opportunities — interrupted by the men in my life," she laughed. One failed marriage and one good one to her best friend Anupam Kher. "It's important to live life the way one thinks fit. I for one didn't want to live it the way the neighbours wanted me to. Because if we don't believe in ourselves no one will," was her advice to the large gathering that was enjoying her unabashed approach to life. "We don't realise our own potential and power,'' she added.

Kiron is not a typical feminist. She enjoys being looked after by a husband and making a good home for her son Sikandar. But this does not mean that she is dominated in any way because "I have understood that there is no limiting myself, I can do what I choose to do. I don't need to seek my husband's permission."

Kiron had concrete suggestions for each person. "Take up catering or work for the girl child," she said. "An educated girl makes an educated mother. And she, in turn, can help society as a whole. Everything boils down to education," she declared! "Why can't women get together and do amateur theatre. It's fulfilling and cathartic. Or start a social service organisation or form a group to keep the environment clean," she asked.

"If your marriage has turned sour, remember your children are deeply affected. It's better to distance them from a hostile environment. It's also important to empower yourself," she said. "You need to make your own security and money."

"Above all," she suggested, "be happy." Because it's the key to a healthy approach to life. There will always be problems in life, but if you can deal with them positively, half the battle is won! Her sincere advice to all women was, "It's always good to know your spouse's financial situation. Your money is yours and your husband's money is also yours,'' she declared, to the delight of the women. "I feel all decisions should be taken jointly, a sound basis for a good marriage." Finally, when the `big' issues, which varied from saris, to philandering men and women and traumatised marriages, were done with, she talked about her experiences playing Paro's mother in the film "Devdas".

She knew she was ideal for the character of Sumitra and said the role simply walked into her life. Sumitra is not just a "ma". She is excitable, a bit silly, perhaps gullible, but turns into a tigress when her feelings are hurt. As for the dance — "It was tough because I had to learn and perform the steps on the spot." She would like to continue doing films — I do very little work actually. I choose my roles carefully.'' And what about TV? "Well, I enjoyed doing Purushetra and I learnt a lot from it, but I would never like to do serials such as "Saas bhi..." I find it so regressive."

When told, "You are so lucky. You seem to have everything — a wonderful husband (whom she is still passionately in love with), a good kid who seems to have a great relationship with his biological dad and his step dad, a fulfilling career, wonderful collection of saris, many more awards to look forward to... " she laughed. "I don't have everything. I need constant fulfilment, I don't get enough time with my husband, I've had financial problems.

My past is not exactly pleasant but then it's the way you look at life that's important, isn't it?

CHITRA MAHESH

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