It seems quite clear — from their gestures of romance-novel variety — that Yash and Nusrat are madly in love. “I used to hate her when we were just colleagues. I found her pretentious,” says Yash, throwing open the conversation at their cozy south Kolkata apartment. “My friends would advise me to stay away from him,” retorts Nusrat. Indeed they have come a long way from then. While the lead-up has been anticlimactic, Yash and Nusrat feel as though they have found their way back home. A whirlwind romance and countless conjectures about their baby later, Yash and Nusrat open up about love, life and more in their very first interview together. Excerpts:
Congratulations to the both of you. How are you enjoying parenthood?
Nusrat: It’s wonderful. But, it is yet to sink in. Thankfully, I am not the only one trying to manage it all. Yash is equally involved. Sometimes, I don’t understand what Yishaan is trying to convey. But, Yash is a hands-on father.
Yash: She’s doing great! I believe in woman instincts. The moment a woman becomes a mother, she instinctively knows how to handle a baby.
It’s a very special Durga Puja for the both of you. How are you planning to celebrate?
Yash: Mostly work. But we will enjoy with our families at home and also visit a few friends.
You started from being co-stars and now you’re here. Tell us about the journey.
Nusrat: We fell in love while trying to figure each other out. He knew it way before I started believing it. He knew very well where we were headed when we started talking very often.
Yash: We both plan our lives meticulously. But as individuals, we were never a part of each other’s life plans. So, when two colleagues got to talking, hanging out… ( pauses)
Yash: There were fireworks!
Nusrat: We were treading into an unknown territory. It was scary, but beautiful. Very real, I must say. It wasn’t out of a fairytale.
Yash: Yeah, that’s because I don’t know how to ride horses!
When you started seeing each other, there were conjectures galore. Was it difficult to evade the public eye and spend time with each other?
Nusrat: No.We have spent some lovely times together. We have relished a quiet dinner on the sand dunes on a moonlit night, I have made noodles for him at a shack in the middle of the streets and so partied like there’s no tomorrow. Heck, he took me on a road trip when I was five and a half months pregnant! It was foggy and I was scared. But he calmed me down, so I could enjoy nature’s finest. For us, that’s romance.
Yash: Yeah, we are pretty old school. We hold hands, get wet in the rain…
It was a brave decision to have the baby. Did you ever have second thoughts?
Yash: Never. I didn’t flinch when she told me. I just asked her if she wanted to go ahead with it. It’s not my body — it’s hers. She needed to decide. I told her I’d never leave her side irrespective of her decision. I wanted to have the baby but couldn’t have forced my decision on her. She even told me that if you want nothing to do with the baby, it’s okay, I’ll keep the baby
Nusrat: He didn’t freak out at all. It was a mutual decision. We didn’t care what the world would think. I knew they’d either call me strong or call me names.
Yash: I may have my own reasons to have the baby. But, tell me, what did those who were talking ill of us expect? That I’d leave a pregnant woman to herself? Would that have been a fair thing to do in the eyes of the world?
You never admitted to being Yishaan’s father until now. Why the secrecy?
Yash: People should understand that wanting to keep your private life to yourself isn’t a crime. There was no hiding of the fact and that we were having a baby. If we wanted to hide, why would we even have the baby, right? She was roaming around with a baby bump. What were people thinking? That we were pulling a prank on them? Was I expected to stand on the roof with a placard in my hand? I’m not that person.
Are you both looking to get married?
Yash: I believe if two people want to be together, all they have to do is stick with each other through thick and thin. No limitations can stop them.
Nusrat: Everything should not be public. I think it is about togetherness. Just putting a legal stamp on it and not living up to the virtues of it isn’t marriage. Besides, it’s a very private thing for the both of us.
Do you think the negative reactions stem from a deep-rooted stigma in India about having a baby out of wedlock?
Nusrat: Do people know whether or not it’s out of wedlock? Just because we don’t open up on things doesn’t mean whatever they are saying is true.
Are you saying you are married?
Nusrat: Like Yash said, we won’t hold placards and declare everything. Let that ambiguity stay.
How did you deal with all the hullabaloo about the relationship? Do you think you got the support you had hoped for from the industry?
Yash: All that was expected was respect for a woman who’s pregnant. I used to hide things from her. She was such a mess. I would sneakily hide messages, posts on social media just so she wouldn’t fly into rage or be heartbroken. Everything said and done, it takes a lot for a woman to have a baby. It wasn’t an easy decision. The sensible ones understand. The ones who are not, troll. There were a few who tried to hog the limelight, then there were ones who’d tell the media that they support us. But the truth is, they never checked on us. Till date, I haven’t heard from them.
Nusrat: Yeah, they wanted their two minutes of fame. I was going through a hormonal turmoil. Yash had to bear the brunt of my mood swings. It wasn’t easy for him either. At the end of the day, we are all human beings. But, thankfully, we had people around who consciously kept us away from all that negativity.
Who is more romantic of the two of you?
Nusrat: He is. I get handwritten notes, bouquets. I too give him flowers!
Yash: When did you ever send me flowers?
Nusrat: I will!
Yash: You were shooting in London, when your manager gave me a flower bud on your behalf that bloomed after a week! That was the first and the last time!
Nusrat: Okay, fine! The best part of our relationship is that we stick to a routine. We don’t like changes. People change — for the better or worse — but we haven’t changed for each other one bit.
What do you like the most about each other?
Nusrat: He is a no-nonsense person.
Yash: There are many things I love about her. The best part is that I have the privilege to know her the way no one does. We put on masks when we face the world, but there’s always that one person who knows our true self. I’m glad I know her that way.
Nusrat: It’s only with him that I can truly be myself. We are all selfish, you know — we love ourselves the most. But, you know you’ve found ‘the one’ when you let go of that feeling. That’s when you realise what you have is real.
You both are in showbiz. Does insecurity creep in? Will there be standing instructions for each other when you both head for shoots?
Nusrat: Of course. We do have the instructions in place!
Yash: Not from my side.
Nusrat: That’s because I’m not as complicated as him. I’ll tell him the rules to abide by. He won’t tell me. He will make up the rules in his mind and expect me to miraculously figure them out! I’m getting to know him everyday.
How would you define your relationship now?
Nusrat: We are in a happy space. We have crossed a major hurdle of our lives. Having a baby without knowing each other for too long — just out of love — is a brave thing to do. I’m glad we have made it.