Actress, Purva Bedi Talks Motherhood, Bollywood and Family

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By Renu Jain Chandarana @renujc

Actress and Masalamomma Purva Bedi Lets Me In On What’s New In Her American Desi life.

Photo Courtesy: Purva Bedi

Photo Courtesy: Purva Bedi

I remember my first experience with an “NRI film” was the film “American Desi” back in 2001. You might remember the story – Krishna (who preferred to be called Kris) was an American born Indian who wanted nothing to do with his heritage. Thankful to be going off to college, he thinks he’ll be getting away from the traditions of his Indian parents – when in fact he becomes engulfed in the campus Indian life more than he had bargained for. Surrounded by new friends (Rizwan Manji, Kal Penn) and an unexpected love interest (Purva Bedi), Kris realizes the error of his ways and that embracing his heritage would actually complete him. After it, many followed – “Monsoon Wedding,” “Bollywood/Hollywood,” “Bend It Like Beckham,” and “The Namesake” just to name a few. I was too young for “Bhaji on the Beach,” and “Mississippi Masala,” but as I got older, I became more aware of how these films fit into the dichotomy of my life.

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Photo Courtesy: Purva Bedi

“American Desi” came at a time when I too was attending University and had been suddenly bombarded by new Indian friends and of course an Indian Student’s Association that allowed me to be in touch with my cultural side through student run events and fundraisers. I was learning, on my own terms, how the East/West dichotomy fit into my life as opposed to tagging along to events my parents wanted me to. Purva Bedi, the heroine/love interest in “American Desi,” was so relatable and cool – I looked up to her character and felt like she just had it all together. She was the perfect mix of Indian and American.

There was confidence in her identity as an American born Indian in the film.   When I got approached to interview her, I immediately knew who she was even 12 years later, it’s amazing how a film can have such an impact! Chatting with Purva I realized how similar she was in real life to the character she played so many years ago. Now, of course in a different stage in her life, she shared with me her struggles and passions as she tackles motherhood and a demanding acting career. The two recent projects that she’s created with her husband, writer, director, and editor David Andrew Stoler, reflect on her family and recent rights of passage in a poignant and humorous way.   So, in case you’re unfamiliar with Purva, here’s a little backgrounder: Purva Bedi is an actress who lives in New York with her husband and toddler daughter. She pursued a corporate career first before realizing how passionate she is about acting. Of course, like all good Indian parents, her mother and father encouraged her to have a strong back up plan! Luckily, the idea of acting wasn’t so foreign to her family. Her paternal grandmother (Daadi) is a famous Bollywood actress from the Golden Age, and her mother too dabbled in acting on the stage and the big screen.

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Photo Courtesy: Purva Bedi

It’s no secret that pursuing a career in acting has its struggles. For one, if living in the USA, one has to decide if they will be on the L.A. scene or the New York scene. Purva managed to penetrate both by taking up the nomadic life and full-time coast to coast travel to make it from project to project. In 2007, she decided to stay put in New York, where her parents and Daadi live, and focus on more of a streamlined life. She met her husband, writer, director and editor David Andrew Stoler through some friends and they immediately hit it off. Now, they have a daughter and some projects under their belts that they have produced together.   The first is a short film titled “Daadi.” The film enjoyed its Toronto and New York premiers in May 2013 and is currently on the film festival circuit. Based entirely on the story of Laj Bedi, Purva’s paternal grandmother (Daadi). The short film explores Laj’s hay day in Bollywood when she acted in over 70 films. Viewers share in Laj Bedi’s story of remembering and missing her past in India while struggling to stay present in her day-to-day life in a senior home in Harlem. Laj Bedi stars as her older self in the film and Purva stars as herself as well. Other family members do make appearances also.

 To see the trailer for Daadi click (and like!) the facebook page: www.facebook.com/DaadiTheMovie

 

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Photo Courtesy: Purva Bedi

When Purva’s husband David first heard about her grandmother’s life story, he just had to write it, direct it, edit it and put music to it. Purva became the producer and together they created something that is very close to their heart. When I asked her what it was like to work with her husband she said, “It was wonderful, challenging, but more fun though. I think we’re weird people in that what we like to do in our down time is work really hard in our creative and artistic endeavors. We don’t have a lot of relaxation time.”   That is definitely the case with Purva and David. When she was nine months pregnant she was getting antsy – wanting the baby to come soon and so she says, “That’s why we went on to do a music video. You’re partners in crime – making the film was hard cause we were tired, and didn’t get enough sleep it was all consuming…but we just work really well together.” So with that enthusiastic work ethic, they gave birth to another project before their baby arrived. A hilarious music video on motherhood and what was to come as parents to be. Again, written, produced, directed, edited, and music all done by Purva and her husband David.   To view the hilarious video on motherhood (and see Purva look pretty hot at 9 months preggers in a bikini!) click on this You Tube link: [vsw id=”MXdKeBv_cfs” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]   What impressed me the most about Purva when I spoke to her was how normal her challenges were as a ‘masalamomma.’ Challenges like how to have your child develop a second language, eat the food you grew up eating, breast-feeding versus formula for the working mom, and how to have a sense of identity other than that of being American. Fortunately for Purva, her parents are close by and help in that department a lot. David also surprisingly, coming from a Jewish background, brings a strong Indian presence to their family. Purva says, “he had been to India three times before he even met me. He even makes the dal in our house!” But there is a give and take – Purva does her part to have the Jewish culture present in her daughter’s life too. They really are partners in crime! I really enjoyed my chat with Purva and wish her all the best as she continues to be a working masalamomma raising her beautiful daughter and piloting projects that are meaningful and relevant to her and interested viewers like me.


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