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Mandy on men

“Men generally have more positive energy than women. Though there are women with great positive energy, but they are all set to tear apart other women.” That’s Mandira Bedi on men and women. In town to stage Ballantine’s Salt & Pepper, the actress-anchor chatted with t2 at Fortune Select Loudon on Saturday afternoon.

Tell us about the man-woman relationships you explore in the play Salt & Pepper...

Well, there are a lot of man-woman relationships that I explore… different ages and different stages in life… different stages in a relationship. The piece we performed on Friday night (at Shisha) was a culmination of the play actually. It talks about a man and a woman who have been married for sometime. There is a sort of comfort level that has set in. The woman is a little hyper. Every woman likes to provoke her husband a little. So that is there. What’s interesting and challenging about this play is that it has 10 short plays with 10 different relationships and I play five characters. In fact, this piece was the easiest. I play women who are 75, 60, 35, 40.... Salt and pepper are two vastly different tastes, one is black and one is white. That kind of sums up our relationships also. We are all black and white. We are different… opposites attract. They make for good relationships. And though it is black and white, I think it has lots of shades of grey… maybe not 50!

What is the most intriguing part of a man-woman relationship for you?

Opposites attract! With women, when you have girlfriends… friends… you like people who have similar interests. In a man-woman relationship, two vastly different people, who you think can never get together, do come together. That’s what is most intriguing! You don’t have to have things in common.

Is it is the same with your husband Raj (Kaushal) and you?

We are complete opposites! We have common interests of course. That’s why we have been together for so many years but we are very different people. He is the calming influence on a hyper me. I am impatient. I have mellowed a little after I became a mom. All the good qualities are him and all the bad qualities are me, except when it comes to exercise. Then all the good qualities are me and all the bad qualities are him!

How do you think the mindset changes in relationships?

The mindset changes with the length of time you’ve been in a relationship. Darshan (Jariwalla, her co-actor in the play) has a funny line in his piece. ‘Men and women don’t come together to communicate. They come together for sex!’ That’s a man’s point of view. Women are all about communication. A woman can be in a relationship for 15-20 years and not feel any of the things the man vocalises. Men and women look at relationships differently.

Does it change with age for women?

When you are a teenager, all that matters is looks! Girls look at a boy and say, ‘He is so cute!’ Doesn’t matter if he is a horrible guy or he treats you badly, doesn’t matter because ‘Oh my god… he is good-looking’ and popular. In your 20s, you are looking for the ideal mate or the husband. You are thinking that he’s got to be presentable, good-looking… he’s got to be able to support me. There has to be chemistry too. That’s important. In your 30s, it depends on whether you are in a relationship or you are looking for one. The parameters change. So, you are looking for companionship. It’s not just about looks. If I am getting into a relationship at the age of 30-35, then it’s got to be a meeting of minds.

How do you think men view relationships?

Men basically look for women who are hot! (Laughs) Everyone likes an arm candy. And there are some slightly more intelligent men who say she’s got to be intelligent and be able to carry on a conversation. Looks matter a lot to men. The more sensible ones will say she should be someone I can take home to my mom… this should be a woman who can raise my kids. The more evolved men look for women who are working… who have a life, a mind and an opinion of their own, who work and would be able to be a homemaker.... Women have it tough. They have to do so much! Samir (Soni), a friend, was married once and then for a while, he was not married. I am sure he wanted to get married again. So, he was looking for someone who would understand him, be compatible, who also had to be good-looking and a working woman and take care of the kids… he wanted it all. What’s wrong with that? You can want it all… then in your scheme of things, you see if somebody ticks seven out of 10 boxes. That’s a good number!

Who’s the salt and who’s the pepper when it comes to men and women?

You see so many relationships where the woman is the dominant one and the man is a bit of a bheegi billi! (Laughs) In some cases, it is the other way round… Two dominant people cannot make a relationship. Two subdued people can make a relationship, but a very boring one. One of the two has to have a little more drive and spark.

What do you find annoying in men?

I hate men who brag. Men are great procrastinators. My husband, when it comes to exercise, or say I have told him to do something… he’ll think that I am being a nag. I don’t like procrastination in my husband. I don’t like men who lie (laughs) and are lazy! What I like about Raj is that he is not lazy… he has the drive when it comes to a lot of things. In a crisis, he takes the first step and takes control… even in our everyday life, he takes charge. I don’t like men who are escapists. And men who smell! (Laughs) Every kind of deodorant is available now...

What about women?

Lots of things! (Smiles) Women are nagging… I can be! Women who are nasty for no reason. I have experienced that when I did cricket. A lot of flak and negativity I got was from women. And for what reason? To use to a polite word — catty. Women have a tendency of being crazily jealous… more than men I think. ‘Why are you talking to that girl?! I am going to go pull her eyes out!’ I have male friends whose wives and girlfriends are like that. Also women who talk too much… they can chew your ear off!

You are in super shape! What have you been eating?

I eat everything. This morning, I had a fabulous breakfast… two toasts with jam and omelettes and muesli and smoothie. I enjoy food. Every now and then, I could finish a plate of French fries, but I also exercise hard. There is a tiny little gym up here (Fortune Select Loudon), which I have already used twice since I have been here. If a place doesn’t have a gym, I’ll go running. It is easier to lose weight, it is harder to keep it off. I have made it a way of life to eat healthy. If you are going to starve, there will be a moment when you will give up. You’ve got to change your relationship with food.

Have you added anything new to your workout?

There is something new. It is called TRX training. You get these bands which you put on your door and shut it… you use your own body weight, so you are lifting yourself up, you are doing pull-ups, biceps… you can exercise any body part… you don’t even need shoes for it. I carry it everywhere.

You show off a super-flat tummy in your Twitter DP...

I control my diet. Ten days leading up to that shoot, I ate lots of sprouts, egg-white omelettes. I did not give up carbohydrates but I cut down on it drastically. I drank a lot of milk. Two days before that I drank very little water.

Have you signed any films?

I have been offered two films. One is for Atul Agnihotri’s production… just started shooting for it. And the other one, I’ll do if the dates work out. I have always said no to films because they don’t know what to do with me. They offer me a sister’s role one day and an item number the next day!

Have you ever done an item number?

I did one. It was on my bucket list! It was for a south Indian film many years ago… done and dusted. That’s not my space.

And with Vir growing up…

Yeah! I don’t want him to look at me… ‘Really?! You are doing this now, after having me!’ (Laughs) He recognises me… He is a year and three months old. He is just saying ‘mamma’, ‘papa’, ‘ta ta’… and started saying ‘k’.