Raveena Tandon

Thanks to literally being a ‘splendid package’, the term “Ravishing Raveena” was coined by the media for actress Raveena Tandon when she debuted in the Hindi film industry. Nothing much has changed over these decades – Raveena continues to look ravishing and her sayit- as-it-is way of conducting herself has evolved into commendable social activism. Unafraid of failure, she falls but marches on… living a life that’s steeped in achievement.

By Andrea CostaBir

Could you share a memorable childhood anecdote that might have influenced your decision to enter the entertainment industry? Also, did your father, the late renowned film director Ravi Tandon, influence your decision in some way?

I never wanted to become an actor, but when destiny wants something to happen, it all happens simultaneously. After finishing my 10th standard exams, I did an internship with (ace ad filmmaker) Prahlad Kakar and assisted him at shoots. I had already done a few modelling projects before that, and when I was interning with Prahlad, people used to ask me what I was doing behind the camera, and why I was not acting in front of the camera! Also, whenever there was no model available, Prahlad would make me stand in for free. Those days were really fun and I truly enjoyed my internship with Prahlad. During one of these shoots in Bandra, Bunty Walia noticed me and told Salman (Khan) that I would be perfect for films.

Meanwhile, I was in my first year of college and my friends and I would often go to a newly opened pizza shop on Linking Road. One day, while we were there, I saw Vivek Vaswani and Anant Balani sitting nearby. They were discussing the heroine for Salman Khan’s second film and Anant pointed towards me and asked Vivek to talk to me. Vivek didn’t recognise me, but I recognised him as he is my brother’s friend, and I told him the same when he asked my name. He realised I was Raviji’s daughter and that’s how we connected. Meanwhile, my father received a call from Salimji (Salman’s father) and that’s how I got another opportunity. This is how destiny works… what’s written in it will always happen.

You enjoyed huge success in the film industry in the ‘90s. How did you handle the rapid rise to stardom and the immense popularity?

You keep moving and doing what’s best. To be an actor or creative person is not an easy life, but it is a life that most of us are privileged to have.

How did you overcome the setbacks you faced in your career?

My journey has been a rollercoaster with lots of ups and downs, successes and defeats, but all these experiences have made me a strong woman. I have always enjoyed my professional life. I want to thank all my directors for having faith in me… for giving me courage, and bestowing me with significance. I never imagined it would happen to me. It has been fabulous! This is called a true and fantastic journey!

We’ve seen your incredible talent on screen, but tell us about a hidden talent or hobby of yours that we might not be aware of?

Wildlife is my passion and capturing moments on camera is sheer thrill! The excitement and love for the forest, the ability to conserve what we have on our beautiful planet, with its beautiful creatures, which man is slowly destroying, is humbling.

With OTT platforms ruling today, how excited are you to be part of this genre?

On OTT, you can push your boundaries to see what else you can do differently as an actor. You have the time to completely lay out your character for the audiences. Unlike in a two-hour film, in an OTT series, you can play with the nuances to establish in people’s minds what the character is.

You’ve been an advocate for various social causes. What inspired you to become an active voice in areas like women’s rights and child welfare?

I have been raised by my family in such a manner where I have always been taught to ‘Do GOOD, Be GOOD’. For the unversed, I have been tirelessly working for the girl child with various organisations like UNICEF, CRY, White Ribbon Alliance for safe motherhood, Spina Bifida Association and Smile Foundation. I single-handedly housed 30 girls in my own house and built an orphanage in Vasai for them after they were thrown out by their landlord.

I was the youngest chairperson of CFSI (Children’s Film Society, India), and have been part of the advisory panel of CINTAA (Cine & TV Artistes Association). In fact, Prime Minister Modi has praised me for my organ donation work. My Rudra Foundation is doing a lot of work for children, women and animal welfare. During the Covid pandemic, when oxygen was scarce, my foundation tied up with DCP South to ensure that 300 oxygen cylinders reached needy people. Cylinders were also sent to Radha Swami Satsang Beas, the Army hospital in Delhi, and for lawyers and legal journalists in Delhi NCR via the Honorable Supreme Court Bar Association. Incidentally, acknowledging my passion for wildlife, I was recently announced as ‘The Wildlife Goodwill Ambassador of Maharashtra’.

Your campaign on the importance of education for girls made a significant impact. Can you tell us about a particular experience that touched your heart during this journey?

I have always been conscious of my social responsibility. I love what I do and I don’t take up anything until I feel strongly about it. Working for girls’ education means a lot to me because when I visited the girls in slums, it educated me a lot. I have been part of efforts to provide education, healthcare, and support to children from marginalized backgrounds.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned throughout your journey as an actress and a public figure?

I always went ahead and took risks in life, be it in my career or personal front. Many risks helped me become a better person and excel in life, but some also failed. However, that still did not stop me from conquering the world.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Stay as you are – REAL!

Who has been the biggest influence in your life, both personally and professionally?

My father had an impact on me because he encouraged me to pursue my interests in social work and humanity.

Your husband Anil Thadani is a wellknown film distributor and businessman. How involved are you in helping him choose which films to back?

I get Anil to read my scripts and get his feedback on them. He shows the trailers of his films to me and asks for my opinion. Our work is a big part of our lives and we do discuss it. However, most of our time is spent in talking about our children, their dreams, aspirations and achievements. For Anil and I, family always comes first.

Your daughter Rasha seems to be getting set to enter the Hindi film industry. What advice would you give her and other aspiring actors who look up to you?

I don’t think there is any single piece of advice I can give her; their entire upbringing is my advice to my children. What my parents taught me, I taught them, and I hope they turn out the way I expect them to. But it is their life and I will always be there for them, good or bad. I’ll be there to help them.

Raveena, do you have any dreams left to realise still, or goals to achieve?

There is no limit to dreams. It keeps changing with age, but let me tell you, my father always taught me that when a child first learns to walk, he falls a lot but he doesn’t just sit there. He stands up, gathers himself and relearns how to walk until he can walk with his head held high. That is what you must do: pick yourself up and walk with your head held high.

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