In a freewheeling chat with DNA, actor Tusshar Kapoor, who welcomed his son Laksshya (5) through IVF in 2016, reflected on his journey of being a single father while he opened up about his relationship with his dad, yesteryear superstar Jeetendra.
Tusshar also spoke about his mantra i.e giving independence to a child to let them figure out their own battles. During the conversation, Tusshar further opened up about why he opted for surrogacy, whether he is open to adoption or not and being a hands-on parent to Laksshya.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Q. You welcomed Lasshay into your life in 2016. How do you reflect on the journey of parenthood?
A. It has been a great journey, that I think I should probably start writing a book. I mean, that’s how long that answer would be. So if I had to sum it up, in a few words, I just say it’s been the most fulfilling and the most enriching part of my life.
Q. When was the time you decided that this the right time, now I want to be a father irrespective of my marital status?
A. Well, I was thinking about it for a few years before I became a father and I wanted to become a father for a long time for that. But because I wasn’t married, I didn’t really know how to go about it. Therefore, when I came across this idea of getting into the family life, even though I’m unmarried, and finding a new way of doing that, I started thinking seriously on those lines. After having given a lot of thought to it, I decided that I should go ahead with this and become a father, irrespective of marital status. I had to ask myself those questions like if I was ready for it or not. I had to be strong and make up my mind with a lot of firmness because once you get into it, there’s no turning back. When I was sure about it and when I knew that the answer was coming from within, I was willing to take on the responsibility on my shoulders, which is when I decided to be a father.
Q. Did you give any thought to the societal pressures?
A. Oh, yes, of course, I was nervous, because I was taking on a step, which I think is not very commonly done. I was, of course, concerned about whether people would be positive or not, and what would be the reaction, but I was told and I realize that there are lots of single men and women. I had many examples in front of me, though, even after realising those examples, it was a little tough to make that decision. But I was strong and nervous energy is always good when it’s positive.
Q. Was there ever a thought to adopt or IVF was the way you wanted to opt for from the beginning?
A. I was always very clear that I wanted to have a child of my own, and I am still also open to the idea of adoption. I think it’s very noble. There are no right answers. I think it’s great if you can do it, and I would love to do it someday. But for myself, at that point, I wanted to become a father of my own child.
Q. Would you say you have inspired others to follow in your footsteps, even your own sister for that matter?
A. Everything that you do for the first time or after having broken the norms in society, in a sense, makes people a little uncomfortable at first. But I think by and large India is very family-oriented. So, no matter how I choose to have a family, I think people will always accept it. If I have shown others the way, then I feel very proud about that. And as far as my sister and some others are concerned, I think they will be best able to answer the question, why they got inspired. If it’s me, then that’s definitely another feather in my cap. Whether you’re married, unmarried, you choose to adopt, in any circumstances, being a parent is the most beautiful feeling and the best journey to have embarked on so don’t shy away from that.
Q. How has your relationship with your dad Jeetendra been?
A. We are close to one another and our relationship is one of respect, rather than being on backslapping friendly terms. There’s more seriousness in our relationship, which is great. Every father and son relationship is different. And we’re there for each other. We are one family, we’ve been together for so many years. And I think that’s the best way to be — to hold on to the idea of keeping a family strong is the best way to live a life. I think it keeps you grounded, focused, it keeps you responsible. And I think I’ve imbibed those values from my parents and I’m using them in bringing up my own child.
Q. Would you say you’ve taken away bits and pieces from your relationship with your father and implemented them with Laksshya?
A. A few things for sure. But by and large, I’m very different as a father compared to my dad. He was more the working parent like most of the Indian fathers, I’m more of the hands-on parent because I am both the father and the mother. So, it’s a very different kind of parenting. But yes, there are lots of things that I’ve learned from my dad. Fitness, professionalism, patience, leniency. I’m not a very strict father. I think the leniency has come from my dad, he was a very easygoing dad. He was strict about certain things, but otherwise, he would let us do our own thing. I think there are miles to go before I can really sum it all down.
Q. Would you say that the lines today have blurred and that it is more about parenthood, not fatherhood and motherhood anymore given the circumstances and the age we live in?
A. Absolutely. It’s more about being there for a child giving him/her security and unconditional love. Help him/her feel like he/she belongs somewhere. Whether it comes from one father, whether it comes from a father and a mother or a single mother, or working parents, unmarried parents, there are lots of combinations that you can have a family in. And there are no rules. There are no right answers. There is no perfect family. A perfect family is one where the child grows up happily.
Q. A message for those who want to welcome a child into their lives but are uncomfortable because of the marital status.
A. If you’re not married, but you want to have a child of your own, I guess that’s great. But if you are in a relationship and you want to have a child, I guess there’s no harm in getting married. It’s a beautiful institution. It’s not that I don’t believe in the institution of marriage. And if you have found the right life partner and want to start a family, why not get married! It’s beautiful to have that bond and to be tied into a knot, which symbolizes the sanctity of a beautiful and pure relationship.