Soha Ali Khan, an Oxford graduate in Economics, understands the balance sheet of her life perfectly. That’s why she invests the most in family bonds. She understands the huge dividends that love pays. Playing mom to daughter Inaaya Naumi Kemmu is her key role. Lockdown or otherwise. In fact, the home isolation has brought her undiluted time with husband Kunal Kemmu and Inaaya. Amidst playing the enthusiastic homemaker, Soha’s also been involved gainfully on social media doing endorsements and podcasts. The best tribute to time is making the most of it. Soha seems to have understood that truth…
How has the lockdown affected you?
I’m not someone who goes out a lot. But not being able to go out for work is extreme. I was about to start shooting a series in Rajasthan, which has got stalled. My daughter can’t attend school. We don’t have staff at home. Also, as a family we can’t meet. But technology is wonderful. It keeps us connected though nothing makes up for physical interaction.
What’s your daily routine like?
I wake up around 7.30 am, when Inaaya comes into my room. Her nanny gives Inaaya her breakfast while I put together the things we need for virtual school. From 9 am onwards, I do school with her. The school sends us power-point presentations of stories, art activities and other things. At 10.30 am it’s snack time for Inaaya. Then she goes off to play downstairs. I have a bath. I make the necessary calls regarding work. Kunal tries out new things in the kitchen. After lunch, Inaaya takes a nap. Between 4.30- 6.30 pm, it’s work time for me. Then I do online yoga or exercise. We stay on the 15th floor. So I run up and down the stairs for 15 minutes. In the evening, Inaaya plays on the terrace. After that it’s bath and dinner for her. Her bedtime is a long drawn one. We tell her stories. After she’s asleep, I catch an OTT series. Kunal and I have dinner together. Then we’re like husband and wife. Through the day, I’m predominantly a mother.
Are you working from home?
I’m foremost an actor. But now I’m doing one-minute videos, which promote a brand or an idea on social media. I’ve also been doing podcasts. We’ve been raising money for Goonj, which is working for migrant workers now. I’m also involved with The Mommy Network, a platform for mothers in the city. Social media keeps me fruitfully engaged.
Tell us something about Kunal’s cooking.
I’m lucky. Kunal cooks all the time. He enjoys eating too. He cooks Rogan josh, Hyderabadi eggs, Japanese soufflé… He keeps introducing Inaaya to new and healthy food. Like he made Japanese omelette without masala. So also, the light pulav.
What’s the secret of your happy marriage?
The fact that we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. There’s a genuine connection and love there. Of course, like any other couple we argue and fight a lot. But at the end of the day, I want to share everything with him – whether it’s an amazing show I’ve watched, something to do with Inaaya or something yummy that I could be eating. My day’s not complete, it doesn’t feel right, if I’ve not shared it with him. It’s not that he doesn’t get on my nerves. It’s not that he’s perfect. Nor am I. The secret is, somewhere deep down, we want to be together more than we don’t want to be.
He’s extremely good with children. I take care of the discipline. He does the entertaining, which is also exhausting. He’s spontaneous in creating stories, dancing, playing, doing gymnastics. He does fun and crazy stuff with Inaaya. Also, he’s a responsible parent. I can attend a Zoom call, shoot a video or do an interactive video because of Kunal. I lock myself in a room and do it because he’s with her.
Are you a strict parent?
I’m particular about bed time and nap time. No matter what, at 8 pm, the lights in Inaaya’s room are off. She has to stop playing. We just tell her stories. I’m particular about her meals. Then she’s not cranky. Now she’s two-and-a-half-year-old and her own person.
Is she given the phone?
Earlier, we’d come home and put our phones away. Abhi sab kaam phone pe ho raha hai. We need the phone all the time. I have to take photographs and videos for my work. Inaaya has a toy phone and an iPad. She’s allowed to play with it for 20 minutes in the first half of the day and 20 minutes in the second half. There are some educational and interactive apps, which she enjoys.
Are you particular about not exposing Inaaya to the paparazzi?
I understand the paparazzi is part of our lives. People are interested in the children of actors. So when she goes out for a birthday party and especially when she’s playing with Taimur, photographers do take their pictures. The worry is that we want them to have an innocent childhood and not a documented one with flashing cameras all the time. You want them to grow up normally. When they grow older, they may not want to share their friends and girlfriends/boyfriends with the world. It’s not fair to them just because their parents chose to be public figures.
Is Inaaya missing Taimur?
She really is. She’s missing all her friends. They chat on FaceTime. We put on music. Taimur dances in his house; she dances in hers. She knows there’s a virus out there because of which people are falling ill. Hence, we can’t go outside and meet Taimur. She calls him Taimur Bhai and she looks up to him.
What qualities of your parents you wish you’d possess?
I want to possess my father’s (the late Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi) sense of patience and composure. I never saw him lose his temper. When you lose your temper, it’s loss of self-control. It reflects on you, no matter how much you’re instigated by circumstance or people. I don’t want to be someone, who yells and insults people. I want to behave with dignity. I want my mother’s (Sharmila Tagore) sense of curiosity. She’s interested in life, travel and reading. Even during the quarantine, she’s signed up for a course in Greek mythology.
Finally, what has the lockdown taught you?
Not to take things for granted and spend time with loved ones. We never know when time will run out or they’ll be taken away from us. I want to convince my mother to move to Mumbai. Her living alone in Delhi is not right. It made me value my relationship with Kunal. There will be good days and bad days. This is a time to cut everyone slack and to focus on improving yourself.