The vivacious Lara Dutta is a star with phenomenal talents. After winning Miss International in 1997, this beautiful lady was crowned Miss Universe in 2000. Her Bollywood debut came with the Hindi film Andaaz, which was followed by some notable films as well as some average ones. Following her marriage to Indian tennis star Mahesh Bhupati in 2011, she had been away from the limelight. But this young mother recently starred in the comedy Welcome to New York and her next outing is as a judge for the upcoming TV reality show ‘High Fever Dance Ka Naya Teva’. In an exclusive interview, Lara opens up about her career, daughter Saira and the pressures of being a part of the entertainment industry.

A balancing act
I have always maintained that my daughter is my number one priority. We strive to strike a balance at home. One of us will always be at home for our daughter.
I enjoy being a mother and leave my daughter behind only if the assignment is worth it. It is usually when Mahesh is at home that I go out for work. When it comes to my work, I choose films for the right reasons. It is an organic process. Kuch achcha aye toh hi mein ghar se bahr niklungi, na?

‘Not a strict mother’
I am not a strict mother but I become strict when it is needed. As parents, we need to let our children enjoy and correct them only when it is required.

Life becomes easy when you share an understanding with your child. I am good mom (laughs).

The pressure to excel
I believe children should be taught things in a healthy way, competition being one of them. Saira’s first few birthdays were celebrated on Australian grounds, where her father was competing. When she takes part in some activities in school, she comes back and says ‘Mom, participating is more important than winning.’ But when it comes to sports, she says, ‘Mom, winning is also important.’ I always go with her to provide support.

A born performer
Saira genetically possesses all my qualities, she is a born performer. She does not need any encouragement. She has been on the grounds and has also seen me perform. So let us see what she chooses. Right now, she loves playing tennis with Mahesh. Par wo bolte hai na, ghar ki murgi dal barabar.
On the paparazzi menace

It is the natural instinct of parents to protect our children. The paparazzi clicks pictures of our daughter because she is the child of Mahesh and Lara. Is there a need to glorify her just because she’s our child? As an adult if she has achieved something, I can understand the attention. But otherwise what message are we sending out? Apne dum par bade hokr yeh bachche kuch kare toh, its fine.

Keeping fit
After my pregnancy, slowly I took to gymming, yoga, etc. But I did everything systematically. After dropping Saira to school, I rush to them gym or my yoga class. I work out five times a week. It’s not easy as on some days I feel like rushing back home and crawling under the blanket.

Unafraid of ageing
I’ve never felt the need to go under the knife. I am 40 and not frightened of ageing. Can you see any wrinkles on my face? But medicine has advanced so much and these days going under the knife is no longer dangerous. I feel if a woman wishes to change her looks, then it is her personal choice. I’m not judgmental.

A family woman
My upcoming dance show is based on a unique concept. The jodis are different – bhabi-nand, grandfather-father, etc. Since I am a family woman, this show suits me. My family takes holidays together. My sister-in-law and I go shopping together. We all have fun with each other.

The dancer in Mahesh
Though Mahesh doesn’t dance publicly, he’s the first one to take to the dance floor at any function at home. As for me, I am a classically trained dancer.