Inside Lopamudra's head

Lopamudra Raut is a well-known face on television and in the modelling industry. In a world that comes with inherent pressures to look good, feel good, and put on a brave face no matter your personal circumstances, it was refreshing to have a chat with her. She had sound advice for those who want to come into the industry but had a sound outlook on life and the profession as well. Here’s my chat with her:

Lopa, you’ve been in show business now for several years. You did a lot of pageants you were successful in but, growing up, did you ever envision that you would be where are today? How did that process happen for you?

Pageants were never planned for me, it just happened. I was pursuing my education in engineering and in the meanwhile I was a very active student when it came to extracurricular activities. So I think I discovered a side of me while I was doing that. And others noticed that about me too, that I would always participate in extracurriculars when given the chance. That’s when people started noticing that I was good at something else and maybe I should try my hand at Miss India. After that, a couple of international pageants happened. By the time I reached the international pageants, I realized I wanted to be in Bollywood, although this is a different ball-game altogether. In the process, I’ve felt like maybe I’m meant to be here and this is my zone – and this is what I want to conquer. Although I don’t think I’m there yet, I’m still taking baby steps towards my ambitions because I do want to become an actress. People often call me a model, beauty queen, all sorts of things – but deep inside, I want to be an actress. If you asked me when I was in engineering, I definitely did not see this coming. However while in engineering, as I stepped into this business, I kind of felt like I was headed in the right direction. 

You talk about growing, evolving, and wanting to be somewhere and you’re in that process right now. When you’re going through this journey, what are some of the internal pressures (within yourself) and what are some of the external pressures? How do you deal with them on a day to day basis?

There is a lot of pressure to look good, to perform, and be successful. However, at the same time, I think a person achieves sanity when they explain to themselves that this is superficial, though it is essential. Social media is extremely important for where I am today. And so I do try to be active on social media, even though I'm not a person that likes to post everything on Instagram. Also, I utilize it as a marketing tool. So even though I'm not much of a person who likes to post everything on social media, I try to keep up with it especially for my followers. 

Apart from the pressure in the industry, I feel like a lot of pressure also comes from social media such as Instagram. For instance, you have to be on point all the time, or look great and everything should be flawless. It's often hard for followers to understand that we’re also human beings that are living crazy schedules, traveling, and often living out of a backpack. So there is a constant pressure. 

How do I deal with it? I remind myself that it's okay to not have perfect days. It’s okay to not always be working and take a day off when you need it. It’s okay to have a bad hair day. Because at the end of the day, no matter who you are, you are going to have these days – and you’re a human being at the end of the day. I think the moment you tell yourself this, that’s when life becomes easier. Honestly, I am very hard on myself when it comes to my schedule, my diet, my regimen – and I think I should put the whip down and loosen up, and people in the industry need to do that as well.

You talk about giving yourself that pep-talk, but when you’re truly having a down day – do you switch on and make sure you're okay for the cameras and promotions? Someone like Ayushmann Khurrana, who had his wife get diagnosed with cancer and go through recovery while he had two of the biggest hits of his career, managed to keep it under wraps throughout those months. So how do you deal with that?

It's quite incredible how he managed that because personal things that happen in your family really do affect you. And I really appreciate him for the way he has evolved as an actor, and worked so hard throughout his projects the last few years despite what’s been going on his personal life. I think that situation he went through is something that, more or less, we all are facing. We have certain things going on in our personal lives but we have to be a certain way for the camera. And I think that over a period of time, with experience, you learn that art. When you are at home alone, you can be in your own zone, but the moment you have a visitor, you always put on a smile and welcome them. It is as simple as that. I’m not saying it's simple to put aside your worries, but that’s the kind of effort you have to put in because this is the life you’ve chosen. So you have to keep your personal life on the side and devote your time for those people who follow you on television and social media – because it's not just about you, it's about your followers too. 

That’s interesting. Who is your biggest system of support when you’re feeling down, either in the industry or even outside the industry? Who is that person you speak to and feel instantly at ease? Is there an individual like that in your life?

I’m so glad that I’ve been blessed with such wonderful friends that I can call at 4am and they’ll be there to help me out. The person that I can openly trust with anything without having the fear of being judged is my father. He’s an extremely liberal man, he’s patient, he’s a good listener and his advice is the best in the world. So no matter what happens in my personal life, career, or relationship, he’s a person I’ve always spoken to in my life. It’s a wonderful feeling to have a father who is so understanding, especially in our Indian society. Coming from a conservative family, for him to evolve so much and understand my lifestyle means a lot. He understands my crazy shoot schedules, my relationships and the career choices I’ve had, and he’s always able to give me good advice. I’m so glad to have him in my life and I can’t imagine it without him. He’s truly a father come friend. 

It’s great to have that kind of support. Even outside of India, there is an inherent patriarchal society that we all parade in, so there’s a little bit more push we have to do. What would you say is your biggest piece of advice for someone to not only manage, but thrive mentally, physically and emotionally in this business? 

A very important person in my life once told me that you shouldn’t let your ambition overpower your mental health, especially since I am a very ambitious person. This dear friend of mine told me that when you’re too ambitious, you forget to enjoy the small moments of your life because you’re always wanting to confidently chase, or achieve something else. Once you get one thing, you chase something else. So in that whole chase, you forget your peace of mind, you forget who you are and you forget to enjoy the moments that you’ve earned. I think it is very beautiful advice that I've remembered because working hard and being ambitious is a great thing you should work towards – but if it doesn’t happen, continue to enjoy the process. I’m not someone who gives up easily, I'm a stubborn girl, even to this day so if I want something I will strive to achieve it. But what I’ve learnt is that after I’ve given my best shot, what’s meant to happen will happen – and in that course of time I shouldn’t forget to enjoy the little moments of my life that I’ve earned in the process. 

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Armin Sethi

Bollywood Film Fame Canada has been a source of original content consisting of real conversations, reviews, and news of everything film, music, and entertainment for 15 years.

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