On International Women’s Day, Gracy Singh aka Santoshi Maa from &TV’s show, Santoshi Maa Sunaye Vrat Kathayein talks about what it takes to be a woman of the women she admires and about portraying a strong woman character. Here are excerpts from a candid conversation with her:
(1) What does International Women’s Day theme on ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’ mean to you?
In combating the pandemic, women have stood in the front lines, like the healthcare and social services workers, caregivers alongside some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders.
The crisis has highlighted both the centrality of their contributions and the disproportionate burdens that women carry.
The theme celebrates women and girls’ tremendous efforts worldwide in shaping an equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It calls for women’s right to decision-making in all areas of life, equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, ending all forms of violence against women and girls, and healthcare services that respond to their needs.
(2) Who is the most inspiring woman (in a leadership position and the entertainment industry) to you and why?
Self-assured and compassionate women inspire me. I believe it is a scarce combination for a woman to be both, and if I had to pick a person who has both these attributes, it would be my mother.
She has been the most significant influence in my life, and the person I have become today is all thanks to the values and teachings she inculcated within me.
Dadi BK Gulzar (from Brahma Kumaris) is the other most considerable influence who has stood as the guiding light in my life. Kiran Bedi is another eminent personality whom I admire a lot.
(3) For the past year, we have been battling the pandemic situation in the country. How have you managed to keep up with your work at a time when recession and economic slowdown hit the world?
I used the lockdown time to introspect and utilised this free time to pursue passion such as dance, meditation, and yoga.
It helped me a lot, physically, emotionally, and mentally. I got ample time to spend with family and even do household chores.
After we resumed shooting in July, there were initially some inhibitions and concerns over safety measures.
But with the recent shooting and safety guidelines, everything was taken care of and explained in detail to everyone.
We were initially anxious about the future as everything all of a sudden came to a standstill. But with time, things began to pick up and gave us a sense of hope for a fresh start.
(4) What do you think is the biggest issue today facing women of your age, especially the working women having to find a work-life balance?
The pandemic situation increased responsibilities for women – both working women and housewives.
The dual responsibilities led to more stress, impact on physical and emotional well-being, leading to faster burnout and reduced focus on self-care.
The pandemic increased disparities and pressure among women. There has been a significant financial impact on women unable to work due to their increased responsibilities.
(5) Your character has struck a chord with the viewers. What according to you, is the USP of this role/character?
I portray the divine character of Santoshi Maa. She is the guiding light in her bhakt, Swati’s (Tanvi Dogra) life and at every milestone that she faces, Santoshi Maa will come to her rescue.
In various avatars, she will narrate her stories about vrats and its significance, which will act as a strengthening weapon to fight through her troublesome life.
While the character might be the same as the previous season, there is a new dimension and side of the Goddess to the character this season.
I believe that is what has captivated the audience. My affinity towards the revered Goddess Santoshi Maa is the reason I signed up for this role.
When I first played this divine character on screen, it brought a lot of positivity to my life. I realised, and so did my relatives, who told me that I had become humbler and kinder than I usually am.
(6) What does it mean to be a woman, according to you?
Being a woman means using your voice to empower others to create positive change. Helping other women achieve their aspirations is just as important as fulfilling their own.
The best support we have is in each other. And if we want to see the change, it must begin with us helping each other.
(7) One message for all the young girls and women you would like to give?
First of all, Happy Women’s Day to all of you. The only message I would like to give to all the women and girls out there is not to be afraid to dream big.
See the possibilities and the beauty of your dreams. Go out, break shackles, live life, and be the change you always wanted to see!
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