Soha Ali Khan has many talents other than acting. She we recently seen in Kaun Banegi Shikharwati and says she has found the confidence to take up more work. But before she is seen on screen again, Soha and husband Kunal Kemmu released a children’s book titled Inni and Bobo. Ask her about the inspiration behind becoming an author all over again, the actor has a lot to get inspired from her four-year-old daughter Inaaya Naumi Kemmu and her love for all kinds of animals and insects. Also read: Soha Ali Khan holds daughter Inaaya, as she tries to touch a cat, fans call it ‘cutest thing on internet’. Watch
In a candid conversation with Hindustan Times, Soha opens up about being a mom who doesn’t want to be an influence on Inaaya. She also talks about being real on Instagram, just like her sister-in-law Kareena Kapoor and why she doesn’t mind Kunal sharing her funny videos. Excerpts:
You are out with a children’s book Inni and Bobo, do you plan more books in the series.
There are many adventures these two principal characters can go on in Inni and Bobo. The second one is already written and will be out in September. Kunal and I are writing the third one together. We can write hundreds of stories.
Is Bobo a real dog? Who is Innaya’s closest friend right now?
Bobo is inspired by a number of dogs that came across in our time. Both Kunal and myself have grown up with animals. We feel fortunate to grow up around two adopted dogs in last few years. We adopted them from the NGO World For All — Nimki and Mishti and they have brought a lot of joy to our lives. Inaaya has been with dogs, cats, lizards, caterpillars, butterflies and all kinds of animals from the time she was born. She has a connection with them. So it seemed natural when we were writing a story about a young girl and a dog.
The people she is closest to at the moment are myself and Kunal. Apart from that, she is very committed to the moment. Whoever she is with, whatever she is doing, she remains focussed on it. When we had this caterpillar who stayed with us for three weeks, she was very attached to it. She does have that one friend who she is very close to, I hope they continue to grow together.
Inaaya comes across as a very well-mannered child who does her own thing. Is there still a quality of hers you want her to improve upon?
She is four. We try to avoid using these words around her like good or naughty. Because we don’t want her to know that she is a particular personality at this point or she has to be a certain kind. We don’t want to impose our idea of what is naughty or good on her. Our idea is to keep her safe, be respectful and empathetic and not to be rude. In terms of who she is, I think she is constantly evolving. I don’t feel the need ti to improve her in anyway. I want her to express herself, get to know herself and be herself. With time, we become conditioned what the society expects us to be, I think there is time for that.
You have said in interviews that you do have your moments of mom guilt but you don’t say sorry to Inaaya for leaving her at home. Do you have any words of wisdom for mothers who continue to fight with guilt despite doing the best for their child?
At least for those of us who are fortunate to have a supportive infrastructure that enables us to pursue our ambitions; the challenge is not for who will look after our child when we are at work. The challenge is to understand that we cannot be in two places at one time. I accept that I am the best influence on her but one influence is not always good. Diversity is always healthier and will always make understanding and balanced individuals, to let her be around others and trust others; that’s the trick.
Children imitate a lot. Has Inaaya picked a habit from you or Kunal.
Children are spunges, they definitely imitate what they see. The other day I said, ‘Inaaya you are annoying.’ Now she is calling me annoying all the time, so I brought it upon myself. You have to be careful the words you choose because they are going to be used against you. You can see your tone, gestures, body language mirror in your child.
Still Inaaya is her own person, her love of dressing up and her love of getting different hairstyles has not come from me.
As a parent, what would you advise other parents about how they can make their kids adjust with social life in schools after a two-year break due to pandemic.
Inaaya had never been to school like that, she went to a playschool. She really enjoyed her time at home and had the comfort of being at home. She had online school which was an adjustment process for all of us but she spent a lot of time with me and Kunal. For their age, these adjustments were not tough.
I have seen friends who have older children and they really struggled during this period. Now people are becoming more relaxed with their masks and with covid protocols as well. We still have to be vigilant and have to put the health and safety of our unvaccinated children first. But we also have to now let them go now in the outer world and experience education, classes, trips, holidays. School is wonderful and I was very surprised that it took so long as malls were open, cinemas were open but schools were still shut. I am very happy that I don’t have to be a teacher anymore as I was not a very good teacher for two years.
Your Instagram account comes across as one of the most genuine accounts on the platform. Who do you think is the most genuine celebrity on Instagram.
We only show you what we want to share but that’s slowly changing. Shikha Talsania is entirely herself. I think Kareena also. When it comes to her Instagram, it’s not necessarily how she looks all the time, she wants to show people a little insight into her life and the things that are happening around her as they happen in a more natural and fluid way.
There is a lot of my life that is not out there on Instagram. Some of it is out there in my book, when I find certain things that are hard to be captured in pictures because I am just more comfortable with the written word when it comes to expressing myself. When it comes to a photograph, there is a requirement for the picture to be perfect in so many ways. If you are looking for truth and honesty, Instagram is not exactly the right place.
Kunal shared a video of you with a face mask plus a filter recently. That was very genuine.
Kunal posted that, I was not aware of it. It’s nice that we talk about and embrace the part of ourselves that are not perfect. It’s important to be who you are and wear your skin in a natural way. That is a healthy image to promote. So that when other young people look at you, they understand that this kind of perfection is not real.
Post Kaun Banegi Shikharwati, tell us about your next project.
I really enjoyed working on Kaun Banegi Shikharwati and gave me the confidence to take on more work. I am stepping out more and embracing other aspects of my life. I have done another show with Amazon, titled Hush Hush, directed by Tanuja Chandra. I would work with her in a heartbeat again. It has an interesting cast of Shahana Goswami, Kritika Kamra, Juhi Chawla, Karishma Tanna, Ayesha Jhulka and will be out in a couple of months.