“Everything in life needs two things. One is courage, the other is compassion”
Shilpa Tulaskar wants all the women out there to know that we can conquer and be victorious in anything if we have the courage to be stronger than our limitations and have compassion in our heart to endure the path that comes between our goals and accomplishments.
Shilpa started her career at a young age and has been a part of some amazing shows such as Dadi Amma Man Jao, Ladies Special, and even Devo Ke Dev Mahadev and mesmerized us with her fierce performance and charismatic personality.
She has been a mother, a wife and most importantly a strong woman with her own voice who believes that rather than being a rebel it is important to rise as a person who is firm in her voice as well as in actions and have the strength to move the people with extraordinary determination.
She makes us realize that we all should strive harder to be stronger than all the excuses and circumstances that try to take us down.
The Voice of Woman had the privilege of chatting with the gorgeous and super versatile Shilpa Tulaskar who discussed how women should deal with certain stereotypes, and shared her ways of balancing both her family and career gracefully.
You have been a part of the industry for a long time. What kind of struggles have you faced when you were younger? Do you still have to struggle?
I was blessed enough to have begun so early. I did one of my earliest shows under the direction of legendary director Basu Chatterjee. It was for a Marathi show called Ga Di ma which was a compilation of 13 stories written by the veteran Marathi author Ga Di Madgulkar and I acted in one of them.
I was about 13 years old when I did that show for Doordarshan so I used to be completely clueless about what was happening around me and only followed the instructions of Basu Da. The instructions were very crisp that it extracted the best out of me even as a child artist.
At that age, I was completely oblivious of my inclination towards acting but I was very comfortable while I was doing that. I was even pampered a lot on the set. I had my mum around me who ensured that I stay well behaved and polite on the set. The shooting continued for three days and then I went back to school.
In college, I was part of Ruia Natyavalay which was very active at that time in the Inter-Collegiate One-Act Play competition and Ruia was like a big winner every year. So during that time, the struggle was not about getting work.
I was lucky enough probably because I was in the right place at the right time. Along with that, I got to work with really wonderful people and wonderful opportunities so that did not seem like a struggle.
The main struggle for me was to study and also follow my passion simultaneously. My parents were very insistent about academics. I did my majors in economics from Ruia.
So the point is if you are really passionate about something you will find a way for it. You don’t really need to give up one thing to do another. Your goal should be to become an artist and not just an actor. In order to do that you have to put in a lot of effort and not just wait for luck to be in your favor. So for me, the struggle then was to balance my academics and my passion for acting.
Then I faced the real struggle such as choosing the appropriate roles and doing your work with utmost sincerity and honesty. But I was fortunate that I did not have to go looking for work. Rather a lot of work came forward.
How is the struggle different today?
Now the television industry which is my major area of work is mostly ruled by revenues. The medium of television nowadays functions caters and executes content in a very different way as compared to the OTT platform, films, or theatre.
I have been fortunate enough for getting the chance to play multifold roles on television. So the struggle now, to be honest, is finding the right kind of work that you yearn to be a part of.
I have been struggling to get a hold of a good theatre script. Nowadays some kind of skin show has somehow become the requirement of the OTT platform. Though I was offered various roles in the ott platform for the past 2 years, unfortunately, it has been more about skin show which I was a little uncomfortable in doing so it didn’t work out.
But I am certain the OTT platform is more than that. So struggle has changed now. It is about balancing your personal life and work especially when you choose to be a mother.
I used to think I can have a lovely career at 40 which I am having right now but I was unsure if I would be completely biologically and mentally prepared to be a mother at 40.
I knew I was not prepared for that and wanted to plan my family before I was a certain age.
Many married women encounter issues like having to choose between career and family. What would you advise them to do to conquer this barrier?
You need to take yourself seriously before you expect the world to take you seriously. If you are so enthusiastic about our career then you should stop whining about the problems and start to think ways to solve them.
It is very important that you convince your family members. Take some time, show them that you are capable of balancing everything not simply because you live in an Indian Society and you are bound to take care of them.
It’s a harsh reality that nature has divided the world into men and women. So you as a mother or wife are going to feel like protecting your family so it is important to find that point where you can balance out both your career and family is very important because you chose both of them.
You have to be firm and responsible for your choices and give your best in whatever you do be it for your family or your profession.
Decide your priorities because they are going to keep changing. If you feel that you want to stay at home and look after your child because your happiness lies in them, then you must prioritize that.
You find yourself shifting roles at different times in diverse ways for instance when you are newly married and you feel you want to give your marriage and relationship time and pamper yourself and your spouse then do that. It is important to have a conversation with the people associated with you. All of these need a lot of patience and understanding. My husband was disturbed by the fact that I have to go to work when he returns.
So it was my job to make him understand how this industry functions as he had no clue and gave him that sense of security of my well being. I made him understand that how I am going to be safe and told him that I want to give this relationship my best and I expect the same out of you. This conversation sorts out a lot of problems.
One of us as a parent had to be around our kids and it meant sacrificing some things on both of our parts. Love and mutual understanding are what works and matters. It is not so easy but nothing is easy and you need to find a solution. The most significant aspect is to make them understand how solemn you are about your passion. So communication and endurance is the key.
How can a woman smash certain stereotypes associated with women and live her life on her own terms?
Refrain from analyzing what others will think about you. All you need to do is to make your priorities right. The people who are going to matter in your life choose them very carefully. Gone are those days when these stereotypes could hinder the process of a woman’s growth. You may not get a lot of support and have to manage everything alone but it all depends upon how much you are prepared to work hard for your dreams despite all the odds.
These kinds of stereotypes exist everywhere because it depends on the mentality of the person. You don’t need to fight against these stereotypes, just focus on your commitments and the goals that you set for yourself. You have to be a bit practical, understand what you are comfortable doing. My life choices were definitely influenced by the fact that I was an actress. Before becoming a mother I did think about how I can come back after this, or whether it was possible for me to make a comeback. But I sat back and contemplated what I want from my life and in which way.
So again it is all about making conscious choices and understanding what works for you. You need to take responsibility for your decisions. Nonetheless, I can only tell you some ways how you can cope up with certain hurdles. There is no point in being rebellious because that is not going to prove anything to anybody.
Instead, stop fretting about what others will think and do your work sincerely because when you get success this struggle will end. So take it as a process and think through what your work means to you, be it any kind of work. Marriage and raising children has to be your choice as well. But do remember that your parents have invested their entire life on you so instead of being a rebel, talk to them about your aspirations and I am sure they will understand you.
It all boils down to the fact of how committed and sincere you are. You will have to work hard and believe in yourself. Never forget that your actions and efforts from the age of 18-30 are going to define how you are going to live the rest of your life. So give it your best shot during these years. You should shine like a sun that people become so mesmerized to see your efforts that nobody would feel like stopping you.
What would you advise the modern-day mothers who are trying to figure out how to manage their careers and child simultaneously?
This is very subjective but for me being a mother is not so much by choice as much I think it is by divine intervention. If you decide to have a child, what is important is that you do it wholeheartedly because the baby did not ask to be born. You decided to have the baby.
So raising a child is a joint venture for both the parents. It can’t be single-handedly done. Though there are so many people who are becoming single parents and doing a fantastic job because of various circumstances. But if your partner is willing to help you take that help.
When I started shooting for a show for Zee Marathi, I conceived at that moment and I chose to have the baby. So Zee actually insisted on the producer so that he waits for me till I come back. I started shooting for it as soon as my son Vivan started taking his first vaccination. He was four months old at that time when I used to take him to the set with me to be able to be around him as a mother.
Hence you need to find a way to balance things out, balance your responsibilities. It became possible for me because I did want to work things out. During the Ladies Special, I just had my daughter. According to the doctor, I could get back to work when she turned three months old. Here also I insisted that if I was allowed to keep my baby along with me on the set then I could manage to work and it did work out like that.
I was probably lucky but also I was very keen. My husband noticed my commitments towards my work and he supported me and helped me out immensely. Thankfully a lot of companies today are supporting working mothers. So you have to figure out what works best for yourself. I took my babies with me to my work and I was the happiest then.
Parenting will never be somebody else’s job. It is your responsibility. But do ask for help from grandparents or from your partner. You can’t do it all by yourself that is not the way. You end up feeling doubtful about your abilities and feel incompetent. In this way, you can’t put in your best efforts so you are depriving your child of that. When I asked for help I got it which was this simple and if you don’t get help then work harder.
What is your next project?
COVID has drastically altered my dreams and aspirations for now. There is a lot that is going around my head so I really hope things get some clarity soon. After we can comprehend how things will change I hope we can get back to work. There are some online projects but the situation is so uncertain that I can’t share anything specific now.
How despicable do you feel about domestic violence?
It is very simple. You don’t tolerate domestic violence. If you see that crime is happening and still choose to keep quiet and not raise your voice then you are also equally contributing to the heinous crime. There is a misconception that domestic violence is only faced by women. It is also men who face this sometimes. You can put an end to it by raising your voice and reporting it and don’t be afraid to do that. Always be vocal about the violence.
What to do when your mother-in-law and husband are not supportive of your career?
You have to be passionate enough for your work to be able to put up a struggle or a battle for your rights. Also, learn to put forward your opinion about why your work matters. Making them understand that it is not about so much for money rather it is for your own happiness and sense of independence. Everything in life needs two things. One is courage, the other is compassion. If you have the courage, go ahead and do it because you have to have compassion in your heart.
How one should balance that fine line between not being aggressive and not staying muted about your opinions?
I have observed that every time a woman expresses her opinion, people think that this girl is controlling. She is trying hard to be someone of authority and does not have any regard for customs. You have to realize that people who judge you for being vocal do not matter to you. You should really think about how much time, thought and space in your head you’re going to give to these people who don’t matter.
This is going to be a struggle and you need a lot of time to master this thing. Wisdom also lies in sharing your thoughts, views, and opinions in front of people who matter and have the ability to understand them. You won’t talk to a French person in Tamil because she won’t understand it. Use your intellect to determine where you are expressing your opinion. Otherwise, you are the foolish one and not them.
But do speak up if you see injustice because when you don’t do that you contribute to that crime.