Suchitra Pillai with husband Lars and daughter Annika
By Shilpi Madan
For her, the sky is the limit. Suchitra Pillai pursues a multitude of passions in for acting, modelling, theatre, music - having starred in movies including Dil Chahta Hai, Satta, Page 3, The Valley...and dazzled audiences with her performance in the iconic play Dance Like a Man --as she wraps up shoots for two web series for Alt Balaji: Kehne ko Hamsafar Hai Season 3, and a new show; looks forward to her upcoming Netflix originals in Betaal (produced by Red Chillies), and Masaba Masaba. All while she readies to release her second music album of rock and roll soon.
Married to actor Lars Kjeldsen, Suchitra is also a mother in progress to their beautiful daughter, Annika. Excerpts from a conversation with Express Parenting:
Annika is 12 now. What is your biggest challenge?
Getting used to her personality that is rapidly changing! What used to be controllable, is now no longer controllable (laughs). She most certainly has a mind of her own and is sensitive about certain things, including the manner in which she is spoken with.
Annika has the fear of being alone, said Pillai.
Share an example?
For instance, if Lars or I want her to do something, and tell her more than once, the irritation shows visibly on her face and in her body language. Of course, a few minutes later, she feels bad and sends a sorry text or gives a hug.
What about the questions?
They are unending. Why she should go to school and so on. I am an engineer by qualification and an actor by profession. That makes her question the validity of actually studying something and pursuing another thing.
What do you lock horns over?
iPad time! Lars is a disciplinarian and rations time on the screen to 45 minutes. There are constant arguments that follow. She does not have a phone, and her friends have an iPhone 11...such points come up. We keep explaining patiently to her the ill effects of latching onto the mobile.
Do you plan to give a phone to Annika?
By next year, but a basic instrument meant only for being a contact point. She is not alone at any point in time, classes are close by, a phone is not needed right now. Though she keeps petitioning for it!
What are the family resolutions for 2020?
We have decided to have a movie night every week together and have been enjoying such nights. Then Annika and I work on diamond paintings together. We talk while making them, have fun putting together the 7000-odd pieces in an intricate way. We roam around, go on walks. Lars' family is in Denmark and we go there every year on a vacation to ensure she spends time with her cousins.
Lars is a disciplinarian, informed Pillai.
Who is she more emotionally welded to: you or Lars?
Now, more to me. He isn't liking being number two, as she was more of Daddy's girl earlier! But honestly, she is a growing girl with evolving hormones as she is heading steadily towards puberty. At this age, she finds me more easy to relate with. We have fun together chatting and laughing about her latest crush, what happened in school.
Any spinoffs being a single child?
Annika has the fear of being alone. It would have been different had there been a sibling. Aspects like sleeping alone at night, or thinking about when Lars and I could both be out, is a bit of a stress point. But one of us is always around, she is slowly growing up, has a cat as a pet now...Things are evening out slowly. She will grow out of it hopefully.
What is it that one thing you are particular about?
Personal hygiene. Annika must have a bath before bedtime. The entire day she is busy with school, dance classes, play...a bath calms and winds children down as well before they nod off.
How is Lars as a dad?
Absolutely brilliant. He is hands-on.
How do you stay connected with your hectic shoot schedules?
Annika and I Facetime. We talk aplenty as I do not want her to have separation anxiety. She knows that I am only a phone call away when I am not around.
One aspect about Annika that has come to the fore recently?
We realised she is a brilliant singer. She has a fabulous voice. We recorded a song in the studio and uploaded it on YouTube, and that fetched a superb response. Children discover their own likes and dislikes as they grow up. We encourage Annika to be her own self.
Be a friend to your children. Make them enjoy the comfort of being able to talk to you about anything, anytime. Give them the security of being there for them. Motherhood brings in that level of selflessness.
Does Annika have that equation with you?
Absolutely! I could kill if there is any danger of her facing harm in any way. She shares everything and knows that together we can deal with anything. Wherever I am, if need be, I can drop everything and run to her. Annika knows that.