Pallavi Joshi: Handling Teenagers Is Like Walking On A Tight Rope

If you are a 90’s child, you’ll remember Pallavi Joshi, the host of Antakshari and other memorable TV shows. She’s the mother of two now, and shares her views on parenting and more with ParentCircle.

By Team ParentCircle  • 11 min read

Pallavi Joshi: Handling Teenagers Is Like Walking On A Tight Rope

Pallavi Joshi has won plenty of appreciation for her acting prowess, and a national award for her role in the movie Woh Chokri. She has shared screen space with veterans like Shabana Azmi and Om Puri and still managed to shine bright. During the 90s, she won the hearts of many viewers with stellar performances, be it as a warrior princess in Mriganayani or as the host in Antakshari and informative shows like Bharat Ek Khoj.

A recipient of the Special Jury Award at the National Film Awards 1992, she recently came in for critical acclaim again for her role in the political murder mystery The Tashkent Files. She’s also the doting mother of two bright teenagers. So, how does she cope with the pressures of work and home? How has she managed to keep herself relevant? She got chatting with ParentCircle about parenting teenagers and a host of other things, including politics.

Here, are excerpts from the ParentCircle exclusive:

Pallavi, tell us how you raised your children while balancing a career.

I think it’s really easy to bring up children in India. Being supportive is in our DNA. The biggest support came from my mother. She was with me every step of the way until each of my children, Mallika and Manan, were six months old. And for the next three months, my mother-in-law came down from Bhopal. So, it was a cakewalk for me. Once the children started school, the women from my building also stood behind me. All of us are working women. And the best part is that all the children are in more or less the same age-group. Hence, they are as thick as thieves. Whenever I was busy, I knew my kids were being looked after by a friend, and of course I did the same for their children. In this way, balancing work and home became easy. It was so not just for me, but for all mothers in the apartment, because we were each other’s support system. It is important to be on good terms with neighbours and friends.

There are no tricks really in raising kids. I don't think I have been better than any other mother. We do all we can for our children and there are times when in spite of doing everything, we still feel guilty for not being there enough for them. But, now I can say that, having seen me working throughout, my children have turned out to be fiercely independent and ambitious too. They have that fire in their bellies to change the world and that makes me an extremely proud mother. 

From Doordarshan to digital media, how has your journey been so far?

My journey has been adventurous. Although I am primarily known as an actor, I experimented a lot and dabbled in different things. I tried my hand at production, direction, writing, anchoring, theatre, social work, etc. There was a time when I was a stay-at-home mom and for some time, I was a busy working mom. I am glad these diverse roles in my life have expanded my horizons.

Is Vivek a hands-on dad? How tough or easy has it been for you as a couple to raise your kids, as both of you are in showbiz?

Yes, he is a hands-on dad. I don't think there's really any other way to raise children. Hands-on doesn't mean being physically available 24/7. It means that you are always there when the family needs you. And nothing else can be a bigger priority than your family. Also, the children really look up to Vivek. They are proud of him and they want to learn from him. Both Vivek and I have always involved our children in our work. They visited the sets, they travelled with us, and now they are interning with us. As they slowly learn the ropes, it’s amazing to see the kids who argue with us at home listening to us intently and following orders in the office and on the sets.

From a very young age they have known what their parents are doing. Hence, they never made unreasonable demands. They were always aware of reality. Of course, there were those phases too when talking to them was like banging your head against a wall, but then all kids go through a 'being unreasonable' phase. But if I look at the big picture, I am lucky to have had well-mannered, cultured kids.

Are you and Vivek on the same page when it comes to parenting? How do you resolve issues when your parenting views differ?

Mostly, we are on the same page, but when there is a difference of opinion, we talk, debate, argue, until one of us makes the other understand.

Any mantra to handle teenage tantrum?

Handling teenagers is like walking a tightrope. You never know when you will lose balance. And if you do, it’s the children that get singed.

There is no mantra really. But I would suggest that parents of teenagers not provoke them in any way. They have their intelligence and logic in place but the frontal lobe of the brain that handles reasoning hasn’t fully developed. They may look and sound extremely mature, and hence we expect them to take wise decisions. But they need time to get to that level; we need to give them a break. However, if you are upset with your teenaged child, do express your displeasure. I would never suggest giving in. They have to understand that they are wrong. As parents, we can’t give up on our job to prepare them to face the world. So, don't be afraid to be firm when required.

One parenting lesson that you learnt from your mother and now practise?

Love. There's no bigger comfort than love. Both my children are grown up now but I still hug them at every given opportunity and keep telling them I am proud of them. My mother always made me feel that I was the best. It generated so much confidence in me. I know that there's one place that I can always call my own and that is my mother’s home. Show generous amounts of love to your children, it will boost their confidence.

In your hectic life, how do you unwind as a family?

I guess the mere sight of the whole family together unwinds us. What can be a better feeling than coming home to a loving family?

You travelled extensively for the show Bharat Ki Baat. What are your takeaways from those journeys?

I am overwhelmed by the beauty of India and by the people of our country. I had travelled through India extensively in the past too, but this time, I can say in all honesty that we live in the best country and that Indians are the best people in the world. Right from the kahwa-seller in Srinagar, to the handloom weaver at Varanasi, from the boatman in Hampi to the camel owners of Jaisalmer, I love our people. I have told my children to travel the length and breadth of India to understand the beauty of life.

How do you deal with online trolls and negative feedback? How do you prepare your children to handle bullies, both online and offline?

I have no idea how to handle trolls because no one can troll me, I'm not on any social media platform! That’s one advantage of not being on Social Media. I think only Vivek will be able to educate the children on this front.

Give us a message for ParentCircle readers.

If you are a parent, you have already received the best gift from God. We are lucky to be chosen as vehicles to take the world forward. I feel extremely important in my role as a woman/mother because I know that I am instrumental in keeping the universe going. If you are not a parent, then you still have a choice. There are scores of parentless children. Adopt a child. If you can't, then help them with education, give them your time, love, affection, money, meals, work. Do whatever you can. And feel the magic of fulfillment!

Hall of Fame

  • In 2014, Pallavi Joshi received the Excellence In Cinema Award at the 7th Global Film Festival.
  • In 2001, she was awarded with the ITA Award for Best Actress – Drama for the show Justujoo.
  • In 2003, she received the ITA Award for Best Anchor - Music & Film Based Show Antakshari.
  • In 1995, she got critical acclaim for her role as Kasturba Gandhi in Shyam Benegal's The Making of the Mahatma.
  • In 1994, she won a Special Jury Award at the 41st National Film Awards for Woh Chokri .
  • In 1988, she was nominated for 'Best Supporting Actress' at the Filmfare Awards for her role as a handicapped girl in Andha Yudh.

Also read: Actor Gautami On How She Raised Her Daughter

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Written by Team ParentCircle on 25 January 2020.

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