When Sameera Reddy turned mother for the first time, she took time to realise what her body and mind were going through.
She was in no hurry to pose in a bikini, talking about losing pregnancy weight and easy ways to look fit. “Post-partum depression is real and while I was told about it, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” says Sameera, who is currently making waves on social media with her honest videos on parenting, running a home and spending lockdown time with her mother-in-law aka ‘Sassy Sasu’ in their videos.
Having been away from social media for three years post pregnancy, the 39-year-old was worried about slipping away from the image people might have had of her. “Truth be told, I went into hiding. I felt pressured to adhere to how people wanted me to look. That was a struggle. By the time my first-born, Harsh, was three years old, I realised I had missed out a lot. As a result, when I was pregnant with Nyra, I started recording every small thing in my imperfect world. I started accepting everything around me and I didn’t feel burdened the way I felt during Harsh’s time,” shares Sameera over phone, even as we hear little Nyra beginning to cry. Sameera excuses herself for a minute to hand over Nyra to her mother-in-law and joins right back.
She continues, “All of us struggle to live up to the image that’s drawn for us. Perfect body, perfect skin, perfect house — we are put in a frame with a picture that ‘others’ decide for us. If we work to live up to just that, when will we do what we like? I decided to carry on with how I wanted to be. The previous Sameera did everything under pressure; it was a glamorous life. This was my second chance to be honest with myself and to be who I really am,” she says.
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The image trap
When Sameera posted her first video after coming out of ‘hiding’, she felt liberated. She did not respond to trolls. “I was happy in my imperfectly perfect world, giving the real me a chance to discover myself. There was no need for anyone to show me the mirror nor make me aware about it. So when people pointed out that I should colour my hair, I laughed. I have been grey since I was 20 years old! I will colour my hair next when I want to. Then the lockdown happened and we found ourselves cooped up in our apartment, along with my mother-in-law,” she says.
Free of the trappings associated with the image of a glamorous actor, Sameera was ready to explore new things. Now, her videos are lapped up not just by new moms but also by a generation younger than her. What appeals to them is the non-sermonising approach.
“To be honest, my videos are for myself. I didn’t look at social media as a vehicle for my comeback. With no nanny for both my kids, and no help during the lockdown, a comeback is the last thing on my mind. I am happy sharing my life and my sasu ’s amazing meal fixes,” she adds.
Banter over ‘rotla’
On her mother-in-law, Sameera admits, “The lockdown has actually passed off well because of my mother-in-law. We have this banter between us all day long and I enjoy her company. She (Manjiri Varde) lets me be and is very vocal about certain things I do, without being judgemental . As the lockdown continued, we cooked and thought of recreating a new recipe with leftovers. That’s how we shot the ‘rotla’ video (chapati with leftover rice),” she laughs.
Sameera at present is happy filming easy food videos with her mother-in-law and her kids and still does not consider herself as a content creator.
Does she nurse any peeves? “Self-love comes first and in it is the goal to stay fit. I am not able to continue my fitness and diet routine but I am doing whatever I can to keep myself fit and strong. And when I say fit, it doesn’t necessarily mean I am aspiring for a particular look. I would say ‘be crystal clear with your thoughts and decide to be either black or white’ and avoid being in the grey area.”