Twinkle Khanna gets real about being a working mother and running a digital media empire

As an actor-turned-author, columnist, film producer and interior designer, to say that Twinkle Khanna leads a multi-hyphenated life would be an understatement. Last year, the Mrs Funnybones author added yet another feather to her cap, by launching a digital content platform, Tweak India — a space for Indian women to challenge old ideas and discover new ones. Complete with her signature wit, the platform is a collaborative and collective space involving topics such as female hygiene, sex education, sustainability and financial independence, all the while breaking away from the ‘hush-hush’ tone these topics tend to have, and focusing on a healthy, open discussion about them.

As the platform turned one this September, Twinkle Khanna says, “I have learned that an idea can grow from the pages of your to-do list to a platform that has engaged with over two million people. The one thing this year has taught me is the need to be agile and adaptive, both personally and as a professional.”

Photograph: Prasaad Naaik

The content created by the digital platform isn’t the only thing on her plate though. To celebrate a year since the company launched, Twinkle Khanna also released Tweak Books to serve as perfect lockdown companions for our inner bookworm. Tweak Books has two books under its umbrella – What’s In your Dabba, a collection of 60 recipes from celebrities and professional chefs alike, and When I Grow Up, I Want To Be…, which is filled with stories about real Indian role models. “The idea for Tweak Books was always a part of the plan”, shares Twinkle Khanna, “When I Grow Up I Want To Be… was something that we planned and had to adapt our narrative style to suit children. What’s In Your Dabba, which started out as an initiative on the Tweak platform, was hugely successful and converting it to a book was the next logical step.”

Photograph: Twinkle Khanna

Tweak Books aren’t the only thing she recommends for your reading list though. The author, who is currently reading Of Men and Mice by John Steinbeck, suggests that you read across all genres, and acknowledge local talent which is finally being recognised all over the world. “I remember reading Meena Kandasamy’s When I Hit You, and being completely awed. Milk Teeth by Amrita Mahale was another wonderful book. We have Avni Doshi’s Burnt Sugar shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, which I plan to read soon. I also read the magnificent Love And Other thought Experiments by Sophie Ward and I would recommend that as well,” she says.

While the pandemic has given her more time to work on her ventures, Twinkle Khanna acknowledges that there has also been an excess of digital consumption, in terms of social media and content, and doesn’t believe that it can be qualified as a boon. Even when it comes to her children, the author says, “This has definitely not been the time to monitor their online time like I did before.” 

Photograph: Prasaad Naaik

And let’s be real. While running a digital media empire, writing, and also parenting two kids, the notorious working-mom guilt is likely to be lurking around the corner. Twinkle Khanna believes that guilt and motherhood are conjoined twins, and acknowledges that it isn’t possible to give your best to more than one thing at a time, and accepting that is key. She believes prioritising your kids’ needs at a particular time, or on a particular day is super important, along with ensuring that you can give them attention when they need it. On spending time with her children during lockdown, she says, “We have been playing a lot of games. Old-school games like Ludo has made a comeback and I spend an hour every day with my little one working on skills that will be useful. We read together a lot and she does a lot of online classes which are a lifesaver.”

As for what’s in store for her next? The author leaves us wanting more, teasing us about new things coming up. “I am a workaholic, so there is always something brewing in my cauldron. The lockdown hasn’t changed that aspect. I have a few projects that I am working on, though between Tweak, my writing, and the kids, I do have an overflowing plate,” she adds. 

Twinkle Khanna

Photograph: Prasaad Naaik

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