What inspired you to take up this initiative towards creating awareness around mental health?
When the second wave hit and there was devastation everywhere, probably then. It was getting really bad, I was so sad and I just wanted to help, do something. Money is one thing and we have done that but I wanted to do something more to help people, bring them resources and also inspire them to hold onto hope; assure them that there is humanity and it was really important for me.
Did you face any moment of anxiety during the pandemic?
I have had a hundred moments of anxiety during the pandemic! My closest people became positive, sick, people I know were dying, there was anxiety about being confined at home, not seeing my family in New York for 17 months. I am no different from anybody else, I am human and anyone who tells you that they have not faced any kind of anxiety during the pandemic is lying. It is not possible, because this is not about the money and how well off you are, this is about survival. And people with the most amount of money still die. We all have anxiety, you cannot buy your way out of it. This is simply survival and we are all trying to protect ourselves, those we love, and everyone else.
How did you manage the kids and their mental health at a time when they were not allowed to step out?
I have tried to create an atmosphere for them such that they don’t feel like they are completely locked up. I do activities with them in the parking garage, and in different rooms of the house, I keep ordering stuff to keep them entertained, and have several story sessions. I try to keep them occupied all the time. For the last months, we have been in Kerala, secluded. So we are going out in the mountains, which is nice for them. The kids have each other, which is huge; they love to play with each other. They are not socialising with other kids, so, when schools start, we will see how it goes.
You all even travelled between India and the US last year. Were there any apprehensions?
We just travelled once to the US in the middle of the pandemic; Los Angeles was under a complete lockdown at that time. Everything in California was shut, the neighbourhood was still okay but we were very scared to travel. We took an embassy flight meant for citizens, my daughter has an Indian passport, so it was a bigger issue to try and get her to come with us. It was very hard and once we managed to do that, we stayed in LA for a few months.
When Sunny is shooting, how do you manage the three kids?
Working from home is very difficult, I do it sporadically throughout the day. Sometimes I work in the morning, at times in the evening. Also working out for me is a big thing. I have to stay fit and sane; if I don’t, I will drive my whole house insane, so it is better that I workout (laughs). So Sunny and I take turns doing our work and workouts. We make sure that we all get our own time.
How did you create a safe environment for the kids at home and plan your work?
Kids are safe at home but if we have to step out, then we talk to them about the virus, sanitising and masks. Even at their age of three-and-a-half and five, they know everything. They are so well aware. 16-17 months of their life has been spent during the pandemic, half of their entire existence has gone in masks, it is a crazy thought, but they don’t know any better. I hope we can give them a better life and they know there is a better life than this.