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The Bedi is back

We are loving 24 [in which Mandira plays Nikita, a deputy to Anil Kapoor’s Jai Singh Rathod, the ATU boss]...

It is a project I am most proud of. I had thought if I return to fiction, it would be a show that would be all about me. Then I got offered 24 and I thought, ‘forget about the show being all about me, I don’t mind being a supporting cast for this show.’ After cricket in 2003, this was the next audition I did!

How are you managing with a full-fledged TV show, a fashion line (called Mandira Bedi) and Vir (her two-year-old son)?

It is the hardest thing in the world. When people used to ask me before I had Vir (who sings “sa-re-ga-ma-pa”!) that how is it, managing personal life and work, I used to say, ‘it’s difficult.’ But that is nothing compared to this! This is when the juggle really happens and this juggle is always a struggle. Till now whatever anchoring jobs I have done, for example Indian Idol, we used to shoot once a week. With fiction, the days they shot with me, I used to be there from the first scene till the last. Yes, it is gruelling, yes it is long hours and yes it is different from what I have done for the last eight-nine years. Yes, I am enjoying it!

So, how much of a struggle is the juggle?

Now that I am doing saris, I have a discipline to go to office every day. I bring Vir here and he plays here and it is actually quite nice. It is like a second home for him. He loves the store (in Khar, Mumbai) and he runs up and down.

There are two or three days when I am shooting 24 and it is only for a period of a couple of months. I know they are talking about a second season and I’ll be very happy to be a part of it if they invite me, but it’s only a couple of days a week and the rest of the days, I give to Vir. Those three days of the week, I don’t see Vir. I see him only in the evening. On occasions, when I am not shooting too far, I have the nanny and Vir come along with me. He has lunch with me and then I send him home. I make things happen like that.

The toughest time was when I was launching my saris and I was doing Indian Idol and I was shooting 24. I launched my saris in September. At that time, I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.

What’s an average day for you?

If I am shooting, then I wake up, meet Vir and leave for my shoot. When I am not shooting, I go for a run or go for my exercise, come back and spend time with Vir. Then I bring him with me to the store, which opens at 11am. He plays around as I action my work. I am planning to be a part of fashion week as well, so mornings get really busy. Then I go pick up Vir from school. I take him home for his food and put him down for his nap and then come back to the store. If I need to take him for a class, I do or the nanny does. If he doesn’t have a class, then he goes to the park and comes back to the store. Then we shut the store and go back home. On the days when I am shooting, I micro-manage with WhatsApp! You have to switch off and switch on.

Does shooting a fiction take a lot of getting used to?

Of course it does! Those kind of hours I hadn’t shot in a long time. Indian Idol used to be 9-to-9 too, but it was just for a day. This was a few more days. It’s not that I shy away from hard work, but with a baby…. The days I wasn’t with him, I would just run home and be with him. On a day when I was shooting, I would never go out for dinner or meet people. I don’t want a day to go by when my son wouldn’t see me. With this show, I know what they are putting in to to make that kind of a show. So, I know that it is going to be a 12-hour day. There was an actor on 24 who just took off her mic, made a face and left. You cannot do that. You have to see the content they are making. Every person is committed to do something different and it is a team effort.

Raj (Kaushal, husband) must be a huge support…

He always is… we have been married 14 years and I told him this morning that I have fallen in love with him again. It’s not that I stopped loving him! But… even with my store, we decided five weeks before to open the store in five weeks and he made it happen. Whatever I had on my wish-list, he made it happen.

So, tell us about Mandira Bedi the designer…

You know what, I understand the sari well because I have worn it so much. I have enjoyed saris and have been connected to saris ever since cricket happened to me. One year, around Diwali, I walked into a fabric store and bought some fabrics, went to a tailor and put the fabric together. What came up was a nice sari. Raj said we had an idea there.

I made about five-six saris last year and I wore my own saris for all the Diwali parties and I got great compliments, but still I never gave it any thought. Then a couple of months later, I committed to an exhibition in September. I did not know where my enthusiasm came from, but I had to make 120 saris and I had to come up with something and I was putting my name behind it. So, I got into super-fast mode and got really enthusiastic July onwards. I had also committed to an exhibition in Singapore. In the first exhibition, out of the 120, we sold about 90 and at Singapore, where I had taken 69 saris, I had sold 64 by lunch.

In the middle of September, we decided to open the store. We launched on October 26. I retail from the store and I retail online from Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop and Vama.

How would you describe a Mandira Bedi sari?

It is a play on fabrics and colour. There is not too much bling. I’d like to say that they are traditional yet a little bit quirky. They are classic, yet there is something different about them. It is all a learning process. One thing that I had in mind was every sari on the rack is something that I would wear. It is my sensibility. I like my saris to be effective.... There will be drama.

Do you ever feel that you have too much on your plate?

After 19 years of being in the business, I am the busiest now. Yes, I do think I have too much on my plate… let’s see how this (her fashion line) goes. We already have franchise offers. I am just holding back.

The Bedi body: Mandira says she has never felt more fit!

I love my body because…

It responds to me. If I eat, I put on weight and if I exercise, I lose it. The body I had during Shanti was plump. Exercise wasn’t a part of life and system at that time. At all! Maybe a walk once a week, but never an important part. Over the last seven-eight years, exercise has really become a part of my life. I was very fit when I got pregnant. I had put on 24 kilos during my pregnancy. Post it, now, I am the strongest and the fittest I have ever been. I ran a half marathon six months ago. I had never been able to run 21km in my life. And this after a broken foot, a baby. I’d like to believe that I have a better body shape now.

Every day I get up and tell my body...

Hello! What are we going to wear today?!

My body’s best friends...

A little black bandage dress and a nice slinky sari.

The one conversation I often have with my body...

I am sorry that I am not exercising today.

My body revolts...

When I eat too much... and I do have binge days!

Lessons that I have learned from my body...

Never take your body for granted. Be it the right kind of food you put into it, be it the amount of exercise… even over exercising is bad. Like people say… your body is like a temple, so treat it like one.

Do I have a patient body?

No! It’s like mercury.

The new thing I am trying…

I am not going to the gym. I work out in the basement of my house. I don’t have any fancy equipment there. I have a bench, a set of weights, a skipping rope, a step and a mat and TRX. I have developed these circuits… like a 15-minute circuit of one minute weight training and one minute cardio. Then I take a break of two-and-a-half minutes. And then I do that circuit three times. So, it is 45 minutes of really hard-core exercise. What I do to myself, no trainer has been able to do that to me. I am feeling good about it.

Does Mandira look best in saris? Tell