Actress-singer Ila Arun, who has featured in films such as LAMHE, JODHAA AKBAR, SHAADI KE SIDE EFFECTS and BEGUM JAAN and did a cameo in MANTO, says she was never away from Bollywood. On the contrary, she is doing much more work in tinsel town than ever.
"Work-wise I was never away from Bollywood... I am doing much more work in tinsel town now. Being basically a theatre actor, Bollywood kept offering me significant acting assignments in the last ten years in films like JODHAA AKBAR, WELCOME TO SAJJANPUR, WELL DONE ABBA, SHAADI KE SIDE EFFECTS, BEGUM JAAN, and I have a big surprise coming this Diwali for you.
"Not to forget that I also did an international film called WEST IS WEST with late Om Puriji a few years ago," the veteran told IANS in an email.
Ila is coming together with film, television and theatre actor K.K. Raina to present their latest play "Baby's Blues", a story of a new mother and the challenges she goes through while handling her baby.
"Right now I cannot think beyond 'Baby's Blues', the play which I am directing with K.K. Raina. It takes nine months for a baby to be born, but here this baby has taken nearly two years to deliver. Scripting, casting, rehearsals, planning and yes talking to media, all of this has kept me busy," she said.
The play will run at NCPA - Experimental Theater on Sunday.
Being a woman and a mother, this play is very close to Ila's heart. She recalls that how her career started to bloom when she became mother to Ishita, an actress.
Asked how she relates to personally with this play, she said: "My career had already started much earlier but it started to bloom after Ishita was born, due to family support. In fact, till I read Tammy Ryan's play 'Baby's Blues', I never knew what post-partum depression was.
"Now when I am directing the play, I realised I should have been more gentle with Ishita when she had delivered her daughters because now I know what pressures and anxieties the new mothers go through because of not only hormonal changes, but also due to emotional and practical anxieties."
She says postpartum depression is a very common condition. However, it is not spoken about or even addressed in India.
"This is also because we don't believe that motherhood can cause depression and it is supposed to be only a happy and joyful experience. There is very low awareness and it is like a taboo that people don't talk about. Both the mother and child need gentle care and they have to choose to be gentle in their approach and attitude.
"I do feel Indian women have to face challenges getting back to work and balancing professional and family together is a struggle for them. In today's age, most women are immediately going back to work post-delivery and they hardly take time to rest or spend time with the baby, which also leads to anxiety and self-doubt sometimes as she is constantly living in guilt and worried for the baby.
"This can lead to numerous complications and thus requires surveillance and gentle care by family and well-wishers," she said.
But is having a career in Bollywood now difficult if you're a mother?
"There are many leading actresses who have come back to work after they became mothers. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Kajol, Rani Mukerji, Kareena Kapoor Khan -- they all have resumed work and the industry has only welcomed and encouraged them. Women in every industry are choosing to come back to work and they all find their balance to enjoy both motherhood and their career," she said.
It's not just acting, Ila has given voice to some of the superhit songs like "Choli ke peeche", "Ghup chup", "Morni baaga ma bole" and "Ringa ringa". Any plans to sing again for films?
"As everyone knows I have a distinct voice and whenever the industry needs my kind of voice, they always call me," said Ila, who feels the music industry is changing immensely.
"It is more digital now. Having said that, it is the age of world music now. The future of that is very bright. As for folk and classical music, it cannot die and there will always be people who appreciate good music and artistse. Platforms like 'Coke Studio' have also helped us and connected us with the audience.
"My two numbers 'Dhima Dhima' and 'Nimoli' done with 'Coke Studio' a few years ago are international successes," said Ila.