Lillete Dubey is back in yet another invisible avatar. This time she plays a maternity coach who guides women through pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood in the short film Birth. The actor says this is the character she won’t be playing often. While speaking about the film starring Shreya Dhanwanthary as a pregnant woman, Lillete also shared her own life experiences of becoming a mother at 24 and how to navigate motherhood. Also read: Shreya Dhanwanthary about playing pregnant woman in short film Birth: ‘Focus is on noise around pregnancy’
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Lillete said that like all new mothers, she was also overwhelmed when she welcomed her first child and wished she would grow very quickly. She also made it clear that there is neither a perfect mother nor a perfect child.
Lillete calls childbirth a turning point in a woman’s life that changes her life forever. The actor talks about welcoming her first child: “When I had my first child, my daughter Neha was only 10 days old and I remember my mother-in-law helping me in those few days. I was a new mother, very overwhelmed, i said to her ‘oh god i’ll wait till she’s a ten year old so i can get my life back i’ll be back on track i’ll be a theater company’ she laughed and laughed and said ‘you think that becoming a mother has an expiration date! As long as you’re alive, you’ve taken this job for life. You’ll worry, worry, you’ll always be a mother.’”
Lady Shri Ram College graduate says she sometimes looks in the mirror and asks herself, “Hello, where is that woman from LSR. She is a mother, daughter, actor.” She claims these personalities are all this and “it’s not like we lose ourselves just because we have different roles”.
On birth and the illusion of becoming the best mother, Lillete says: “The film explores the great pressure women have to be a good mother, the child has to be perfect. There is no such thing as perfect. They are people with their own strengths and weaknesses. They try to do their best. What is this that makes a mother do everything right? She may also lose her temper, she may also be having a bad day. The guilt this gives women is also explored in the film. All young mothers should see this movie, you cannot become a goddess avatar to raise the perfect child. It’s such a scary prospect because no one can. They themselves are overwhelmed because motherhood sucks everything out of you.”
Lillete shared why she accepted the role of Mama Nithya in Birth, saying, “Birth is the character I don’t get to play very often. I like working with new people, I find it very energetic and exciting. Producer Natasha Malpani Oswal is young, director Shyam Sundar is also young, I like the way he handled the subject. It is also wonderful to work with Shreya Dhanwanthary. I love to jump like that – from a short film to a web series to a big movie.”
Lillete plays Mama Nithya in Birth, which seems to be based on women guiding and advising others without having any experience themselves. She says India is full of people who are happy to give unsolicited advice on anything. “Luckily my mother was a doctor, so she always gave me the right medical advice. Rest, you have to find your way. It’s like a marriage where you have to jump off a cliff with a blindfold and hope for the best. You have to find your way after having children.”
The actor is mother of two daughters, Ira and Neha and is now also a grandmother to twin girls. “I had my first child when I was 24. I didn’t know what was happening, I was so excited. I wanted to have a baby. And suddenly, when I had the baby, I thought, ‘Oh my god, what am I going to do with this child.’ I have to raise her mentally and physically, it gets overwhelming. But after having two children, I can now say that the joy outweighs all the worries. Now I have two grandchildren, twins who will soon be four. This is better. I tell my daughter it’s my job to spoil my grandchildren, it’s not my job to discipline them. You sit and do all that. I’d rather be a grandparent, actually,” she says.
However, Lillete did not watch Badhaai Ho, which stars Neena Gupta as a pregnant, middle-aged woman who is looked down upon by her own children and others. She says she doesn’t watch many movies now and would have loved the movie if she’d seen it. She also joins producer Natasha Malpani Oswal to emphasize how men should look at Birth too. “There is also a lot of pressure on your relationship. You expect the man to participate, to take the same amount of care. Of course it never happens. You are so distracted and absorbed by the baby, it affects other things too.” she says.
Asked about her reaction to the changes in the abortion law in the US, the actor said: “It’s horrible and shocking. It’s the beginning of your freedom as a woman that you decide, your child, your body. It’s very ridiculous, the whole world was shocked.”