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‘No perfect way to be a mom’, says Dia Mirza

Dia Mirza talks to us about motherhood, sustainability, and how growing older has taught her many lessons…

Dia Mirza is the quintessence of poise and elegance. Her artistry is a vibrant canvas of being a beauty pageant winner, model, actress, producer, climate activist, and above all, a humanitarian at heart. The actress has been captivating audiences ever since her debut in the cult-favourite Rehnaa Hai Tere Dil Mein (2001). Later, she starred in blockbusters like Dus (2005), Parineeta (2005), Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006), Sanju (2018), and many more.

Now in her 40s, Dia draws her sense of purpose from the unwavering priority she has set in life—to make the world a better place. She is more inclined towards working on projects that evoke the collective consciousness of society with sustainable solutions. And she is already on her way — from lending her voice to an environmental-themed podcast called Run Wild, working for cancer patients, spreading awareness about HIV prevention, giving voice to Asia’s first animatronic empathy-building elephant called Ellie to herald the message of spreading kindness towards wildlife, to working in films like Bheed for her children, one that addresses the socio-economic divide of society—Dia is here to create a meaningful difference. In her personal life, the 41-year-old is a devoted mother  to her  two-year-old son Avyaan and a teenage daughter, Samaira.

As we approach International Mother’s Day, we had the privilege of speaking with this multi-talented star about the joys and challenges of motherhood, her unwavering commitment to the environment, and her dedication to raising her toddler with an organic lifestyle.

Your suggestions for young moms? 
All new moms need to know that it is okay to ask for help, to not know all the answers and to make mistakes. Motherhood is a blessing but it can also be demanding and stressful. Surround yourself with a supportive network of family and friends and take care of your mental and physical health. Take one day at a time; and do not be too hard on yourself. Remember, there is no perfect way to be a mom; so trust your instincts and enjoy these special moments with your little ones.

Tell us about the lifestyle changes you have made after becoming a mother?
Having Avyaan has been absolutely life-changing. My heart is bigger, my days busier and he is a masterful teacher from whom I learn every day. My lifestyle choices, however, have remained constant, as even before I became a mother, environmental issues were important to me and were reflected in my choices. Now, sustainability is also guiding the choices I make for my son. Be it toys, diapers, clothing, or linen, everything I choose for him is chemical-free, organic, and safe. I am also investing in green businesses because I want to promote eco-sensitive initiatives. And yes, I am working even harder to raise climate questions and seek change in the way we collectively consume natural resources. I want my children to inherit a healthy planet.

Do you practice sustainability at home?  
It has been my effort to weave sustainability into every aspect of my life. I travel with my own water bottle, coffee cup, and cutlery. As an actor and producer, I am working towards resource-sensitive sets where water and energy waste are minimal. I am also very careful to use only organic baby-care products for my son and I am investing in brands that are creating sustainable products for children. At home, we use  earth-friendly cleaning products, stay clear of single-use plastics, and segregate and compost our waste. Our balcony and garden, too, have become a biodiversity space. I have switched to a largely plant-based diet and I wear and promote slow fashion.

How has your outlook on life changed while transitioning from your 30s to your 40s?
The transition has been organic, and each phase has revealed to me a new facet of my being. As a mom, I have become very protective of my time. I focus only on the essentials while letting go of all peripherals. I am more conscious now of the things that truly matter to me and have learnt to prioritise them. Motherhood has also taught me the importance of being present and cherishing the lessons that my son and daughter teach me every day. I am a lifelong learner. I have let time show me the true meaning of self-acceptance and the futility of perfectionism. Most importantly, I strive every day to create joy, meaning, and purpose in my life rather than worrying about the optics of success.

How is it being in cinema in the present age?
To always ensure that you are using your reach for the greater good! An artist should stay true to not just their craft but to their sense of purpose. With the advent of social media and digital platforms, there is also a constant pressure to be visible, which I try to circumvent by engaging in conversations about issues that I am passionate about—themes that bring people together as a whole.

How do you reassess the idea of success?
Success has many meanings, and for me, it has never been an end in itself. I want to use my voice to make a difference. Fortunately, in the past few years, I have been offered characters that I truly resonate with—Shivani Fonseca in Thappad; playing a part in the series Call My Agent Bollywood where I get to counter a toxic and ageist beauty culture; playing Kainaaz Akhtar in the series Kaafir who challenges the politics of hate; and a role in the film Gray, which was about consent. I am drawn to strong female characters. I am thrilled to play parts that celebrate interesting, articulate, and self-willed women. I want to tell human stories that also address social justice, environmental issues, and more.


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