When Raveena Tandon Embraced Motherhood As A Single Woman Defying Stereotypes

Chaya Tandon ,raveena tandon adopted daughters

Raveena Tandon adopted daughters at the young age of 21 in 1995, a time when single, unmarried women were bound by far more restrictions and stigma than they are today. It was a high point in her film career, with Mohra and Laadla having shaken up the box office only a year ago. She was well on her way to becoming a mega film star, a Hindi film leading lady.

Her decision to adopt then raised many eyebrows. What will happen to her career? Will male co-stars want to be paired with an unmarried mother? How can she even become a mother without marriage? She’s only a girl herself, how will she manage two more? Isn’t it better she get married and have kids of her own? Why adopt?

A million questions abounded. Bold newspaper headlines stirred drama. The audience was apprehensive about their favourite star. But Tandon, it seems, muted out all the noise.

A cousin had passed away leaving behind two daughters, Chhaya and Pooja. Reportedly not satisfied with the way they were being treated by guardians, Tandon brought them home to raise them as her own daughters. Chhaya was only 8 and Pooja, 11.

Today, both are grown and married and have two more siblings – Rasha and Ranbir – Tandon’s children with husband Anil Thadani, whom she married in 2004. Tandon, meanwhile, is remembered as the reigning queen of the Hindi screen in the 90s and continues to take on pathbreaking roles. Evidently, keeping her choice of early motherhood at par with her career did not affect either graph, proving the two aren’t mutually exclusive for women.

So, guess it was a win-win for everyone?

With Young Dreams And A Film Career In The Balance, Raveena Tandon Adopted Daughters

Women are conditioned, from a young age, that the natural rite of passage for them is marriage and then, motherhood. That is the course a woman’s life is destined to take, society tells us. Anything that diverges from the path stands to unsettle the equilibrium of a community.

Back then people were apprehensive on my decision and said no one would want to marry someone with this ‘baggage,’” Tandon revealed on reactions to her adoption in the 90s.

Why is a society’s equilibrium dependent on the way women’s lives progress? Are these definitions and laws of being set in stone? Who determines their righteousness? Why must a woman be deterred from exploring other roads at the end of which lie other goals?

Does the timeline of our lives govern our womanhood?

Did Tandon’s voluntary motherhood – that too by way of adoption, a route still marred with uncertainty and a perception of “unnaturalness” – prevent her from a successful career? Did it come in the way of her marriage years later? Does it raise questions on her womanhood?

No. It only enriched, evident by how she has gushed about it over the years.

“My daughters are my best friends. I remember, when I got married, they were the ones who sat in the car and led me to the mandap. And now, I got the chance to walk them down the aisle. It is such a special feeling,” she told HT in 2016.

And today, in an Instagram post, she wished Chhaya a happy birthday, saying, “You are the best thing that happened to me.”

Tandon proves – as do so many others like her every single day – that when agency, choice and belief are exercised even in the face of resistance and judgment as big as a whole country, nothing can bring a woman down.

Views expressed are the author’s own.