Tina Ambani opens up to Harshikaa Udasi on why ‘silver’ citizens mean so much to her
It’s not a story that Tina Ambani likes to relate often. Eight years ago, she had a life-altering experience. An acquaintance, a 60-plus man who lived outside India, lost his mother. As close friends and family, including Tina, condoled the death, this man who had never expressed his emotions freely, began to cry. “He sobbed, and told us how he never got to see his mom express herself freely. He blamed himself for neither giving her a chance nor the time to speak up.”
This led Tina to help ‘silver’ citizens enjoy their living by launching the Harmony for Silvers Foundation. “Over the years, we’ve built it step-by-step, and now we have the Harmony magazine, a portal, an interactive centre for silver citizens in south Mumbai, and a research and publishing arm.
The idea is to use the wealth of experience silver citizens have, and to make them aware that they are not a spent force. We want them to achieve financial stability and get the best of healthcare services. We also want them to self-indulge. They’ve worked for so long!” she adds.
Right now, the centre is gearing up for one of the highlights of Harmony Foundation — the Harmony Silver Awards, to be presented on October 1. “Hats off to my team! I have a dedicated bunch of professionals. They start tracking nominees as soon as one award ceremony gets over. It involves a lot of research, and takes almost a year to finalise. We like to put the spotlight on real people, who are also senior citizens working for the betterment of life,” she says.
As Tina saunters into the interactive centre for seniors in Mumbai’s Girgaum area, a group of senior citizens surrounds her, fondly calling her Tinaben or Tina bhabhi. “The Tina in me has always remained. Even now, people call me Tina Munim or Tina Ambani, but I am the same person,” smiles the yesteryear actor, who had made a mark for herself in films such as Karz, Aakhir Kyon and Souten before calling it a day and settling down with industrialist Anil Ambani.
Promoting new talent
The younger daughter-in-law of the Ambani clan has always been actively involved in projects that benefit society. She is the patron-founder of the Harmony Art Foundation that promotes new talent, and has also been instrumental in setting up the multi-specialty Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and Medical Research Institute, of which she is chairperson.
“Anil always teases me that the hospital is my third baby. Honestly, I have given it a lot of time and planning. A team from London had been with us for six months, working on the project that was left behind by late Dr Nitu Mandke (eminent cardiac surgeon). We had to re-do it all since he had planned it as a cardiac hospital while I was sure we should go ahead as a multi-specialty,” she says, evidently content about her three-year long efforts.
Ask her to hark back to older times, and think if she could envisage such a future then, and she replies: “There are no expiry dates for personal development. Life offers you various choices, and you have to know how to prioritise. When you are younger, you live for the moment. You can’t plan; you have to realise your karmic cycle over time,” she smiles.
With Anil Ambani venturing into Hollywood with strategic tie-ups, will she put her cinematic experience to use? “My roots are in the film industry, as I was acting for 10 years,” she says. And before you even begin thinking on the lines of a yes, she springs up: “But it’s a role I have already played. Now, I have my hands full with things I love to do. So, that’s not happening,” smiles Tina.
The mother of two boys, Anmol and Anshul, who are both studying, says that though she is very involved in her kids’ education and upbringing in a traditional way, she is definitely not a hovering parent. “I give them space. That’s the best way to learn,” she says in-between talking to her younger one on the phone to check on his daily lesson. The lady who makes it to page 3 events many a time says that she’d rather spend time at home with her husband and children or watching television or reading books.