"When I was 20, I got married, in keeping with the village tradition. Jyoti was born, but unfortunately, her mother developed medical complications and we lost her. I got married again in 2003 to Radha, and had Harshita and Rehanshi."
By Shilpi Madan
Actor Rajpal Yadav deserves a medal. For his rare ability to be able to laugh at himself. From being the funnyman on the screen and for livening up the time he spends with his three daughters, the actor, politician, producer has been busy raking in applause and awards for his superb performances on the silver screen in Main Madhuri Dixit Banana Chahti Hoon, Jungle, Judwaa 2….and is now working on David Dhawan’s Coolie No 1, Sajid Nadiadwala’s Taxi Mein Bhoot, much as he desires to get cracking on a humour laced web series. Excerpts from a quick conversation:
Three daughters, three cheers, aren’t they?
Absolutely. Jyoti, Harshita and Rehanshi are my three diamonds.
Jyoti is married and in her 20s. Rehanshi is eight months old and Harshita six years. Why the big age difference?
I have been born and brought up in a small village, Kundra, near Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh. When I was 20, I got married, in keeping with the village tradition of starting family at that age. Jyoti was born, but unfortunately, her mother developed severe medical complications thereafter and we lost her. I got married again in 2003 to Radha, and had Harshita and Rehanshi.
It takes a village to bring up a child. Do you agree?
Absolutely. Honestly, Jyoti has got so much love from everyone: our family, the entire village which is like an extended family for all our children and us. Sometimes I feel she has got more love than she would have ever got even if her mother had been alive. Jyoti is my firstborn and very dear to me.
Now as you swing into your 40s, how is it bringing up two small kids, in terms of energy levels?
I am a middle-aged Mowgli. I love my kids, we do so much stuff together. We have just returned from the Della Resort near Mumbai, where we took a three-day break. We did everything in the adventure park there, from horse-riding to mad rides. Spending time with my kids energises me. I believe that every day is a new beginning when you are a parent.
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But you are a self-confessed workaholic.
True. I am a compulsive worker. I love my work, and I love my family. I always try to strike a balance between both.
How do you stay in touch with them when you are shooting?
When in Mumbai, I always encourage my children to come to the sets with Radha. When I am out of Mumbai, then I Facetime, talk to them frequently. They are my stress-busters.
What have you learnt from your kids?
I have become more sympathetic and compassionate…towards other parents! I can totally empathise with what parents are going through while dealing with tantrums and challenging situations with kids at public places, like at the airport. I understand parental anxiety better. I can identify with it. This has also helped me to better my performance on screen.
So where does politics figure in the scheme of things?
I have been working since I was 10 years old. There have been many ups and downs in my life, much like anyone else’s life. I worked out the math in my head. Even the busiest actor cannot shoot more than a maximum of 200 days in a year, while working on four to five movies. Assuming I shoot for 200 days, I spend 65 days with my family, which still leaves me with 100 days to make productive use of my time rather than attending parties. I choose to invest this time in social work, through my Sarv Sambhav Party.
What is that one thing that you wish to instill in the girls?
A sound value system and love for their roots. Our children must value our culture. All of us visit my village as often as possible. We celebrate Holi and Deepawali together with gusto over there. I have had the good fortune of helping in getting the roads built and bettering the infrastructure over there.
You haven’t changed at all?
I haven’t. I never will. In 1997, I was an unknown struggler. In 2019, I am a well-known beginner. I am a simple man. Till date I am as happy to hear the appreciative claps of the audience as I was to hear the applause of the children and teachers each time I performed in school during my early years. I haven’t forgotten my roots.
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