Aging is a slow down of one’s career and beauty, but not for these two at least; Hema Malini and Shobha De. Hema Malini was one of the most successful actresses of her times, and currently serving as a Parliamentarian.
Whereas Shobha De has been writing for past 45 years, who had started her journey as a model along with beauties such as Zeenat Aman, however in the 70s she started her career in journalism.
The two gorgeous women share their experience of ageing and consider ‘age as a number’ in a special chat and photo shoot for HT Brunch at the JW Marriott, Mumbai.
Read their interview with Hindustan Times:
Shobhaa De (SD): Sexy at 60? Puhleez – that’s so passé. Sizzling at 70 is the new black! At 70, one reaches that fantastic stage when all the unimportant things in life magically melt away and you finally come into your own. At 70, I have finally sprouted wings and I am ready to fly…explore any and every fresh opportunity and adventure. It’s too late to qualify as a nuclear scientist. But I am up for other creative options and avenues. However, I will draw the line at bungee jumping. But let’s not kid ourselves – 70 is 70! I definitely don’t think of it as the neo-50.
Hema Malini (HM): These days, I have to take approval from Esha and Ahana for the smallest of things! They are like my mini mummy! (She giggles)
SD: I call mine my in-house censor board. Anything I do, say, write, eat or wear is analysed and advice is given whether I ask for it or not. The chief of this in-house censor board is my husband Dilip. I am very proud of him – at the age of 77, he found his new love – painting! In fact, he is now a prolific artist with a new exhibition coming up next January. But it is strange how much we both have in common, Hemaji! We are the same age and so are our daughters. And we are both becoming naanis again at almost the same time!
HM: My daughters say I am overprotective of them. Maybe I am!
SD: My children also complain that I am over-involved in their lives. I say, darlings, be glad! It is far better to be over-involved than indifferent. Perhaps, one day you will thank me for this. I am totally involved in my daughters’ lives. Maybe not that much in my grandchildren’s though.
Grannies with glamour
HM: My little Darien loves to paint. He came into my room yesterday and he had paint all over him. I sat him next to me and started telling him stories and he fell asleep listening. It is these simple things that warm the cockles of your heart.
SD: Ahilya, the little one, is fascinated with make-up. I have a small make-up pouch, which is nothing great, but she loves it. She digs into it and experiments, first on her own face and body, and then on mine. It’s crazy! We both look like Red Indians at the end of her make-up session. But I enjoy it. The very word naani has something so very sweet and tender about it. I prefer it to the Marathi aji.
HM: When Darien first called me naani, people were not sure how I would react. My mother didn’t like the word. In Tamil we call our grandmother paati. But I love naani. And, yes, you are right; we can’t be as involved with our grandkids as we can be with our own daughters.
SD: The mother-daughter relationship is complex beyond belief. It is incomparable. Intensely demanding and a bit maddening. Nobody else can love me as much and nobody else can hurt me as much. We argue and fight because we are all strong women. It is probably the most challenging relationship on this planet, but also definitely the most fulfilling.I also feel that every woman in the world is a working woman. More so, a full time homemaker. We must place a value on ourselves.
HM: Today when I look back, everything looks fine. You should be happy in whatever you are doing, or do things that make you happy. So many transitions have happened in my life, but as life threw challenges I kept figuring my way out. One should embrace each stage of life with open arms and mind.
SD: I think it’s time to challenge the stereotype. But I have always broken stereotypes, and here I am!
HM: When I was young, my parents would consult astrologers for various things, and every time I would be told that I will live very long. Then, I thought, my god! What if I lived to be 80, and how wrinkled and shrivelled I would be, and I’d shudder. But as I slowly inch towards that age, I don’t look or feel like that old woman of my nightmare. I am just me; I am the person I was.
SD: Each decade has its own relevance, its own highs and lows, and life is about how you deal with the low period. How you conduct yourself when the tide is ebbing and the seas are rough. I have, in fact, enjoyed swimming against the tide. If nothing else, it makes you a better swimmer. It has tested my strength, I have accepted the challenge and come out stronger. It is tough enough being a woman at any age. Tougher still, when you get older. Hema and I belong to a good vintage!
HM: I was the top heroine when I got married and the offers started to wane. The industry had this mindset that a married lady is only fit to play a mother to the hero, not his love interest. So sometimes, when I went to Dharamji’s shoots with Esha, I would see actresses much junior to me at work, while I sat with my daughter on my lap, watching. It was a strange feeling. I kept thinking, what should I do now?
Then I had a chat with Gulzar saab. I told him I didn’t know where I was headed. He listened to me very carefully and then told me to broaden my horizons. ‘One door shuts so that you can try the other doors,’ he said. Suddenly I got a strange kind of strength, and I got into dance ballets and that became such a big part of my life that I never looked back. Today, sitting on the verge of 70, when I look back at each decade of my life, I smile…it looks beautiful from here.
At this age, you recognise your passion
SD: I think the 70s is when you start recognising your true passions, your commitments and capabilities. There is a very distilled and pure focus. At 70, you should become the Nike spokesperson and just do it! No force on earth can stop us at this stage in life. You take total control of your life for better or worse. You finally own it. At 70, it’s important to discard vanity and focus on productivity. I hope to remain as prolific in my seventh decade as I have always been throughout my 45-year-old writing career.
Hema is a fine example. Nobody had thought she would be able to nurture the Mathura constituency as well as she has. Look at her level of involvement. In fact, I see Hema in the Cabinet in the near future.
HM: (Looking mock-scared) Arre, kitna kaam karna padega! It is too time-consuming. I don’t want to get so busy that I can’t look out for my babies. And now they are having babies! But, you know what? I think if you want to try something new at this point, you should definitely give acting a thought.
SD: (Laughing heartily) Maybe it is about time I give that a shot! That’s the fun of being 70. It’s time to do things we never thought we could do!