Rachana Dubey (BOMBAY TIMES; April 4, 2017)

She's quite literally unstoppable. It's been over three months since her baby boy Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi, arrived. Even during the course of her pregnancy, she was, among the busiest of heroines in Bollywood, something only a few actresses can boast of. And, days after her delivery, Kareena Kapoor Khan was back on her feet. She has not only hit the treadmill, but also resumed work, something she had promised she'd do. In an exclusive chat with BT, the actress opens up about the new phase in her life, breaking norms, and what it means to be an independent, strong-headed woman in India. Excerpts...

It's the beginning of a new phase in my life. After becoming a mother, I'm learning new things every passing day. It's a long journey and Saif (Ali Khan) and I are very excited about it. I agree that very often, pregnant women are seen as ticking time bombs, but that perception never bothered me. I generally do things that I want to do and enjoy. Being pregnant and still being out there was something I chose to do. Everyone has an opinion in India, especially when it concerns women. 'Hey, you're old enough to be married' 'Oh, you must have a baby now. It's the right age.' These statements don't resonate with me because as someone exposed to global cultures, I know that people in the West reproduce even when they're well past their 40s. When you want to have a baby should be your choice.

Yes, I was on my feet a few days after the delivery, but it's upsetting to have people judge you for it. No one has the right to comment on how I conduct myself or what sort of a mother I am. Everyone seems to have an opinion. Postpartum depression is not a must, right? It's whimsical to generalise that every woman goes through that phase, almost making it sound like a norm. Every pregnancy and every mother's journey with her child during those nine months and afterwards is different. You can't draw parallels. No one out there really knows me or what I am feeling at a given time. How can anyone decide on my behalf whether I am supposed to feel depressed or if I can step out before 45 days? If I'm spoken about like that, what would it be like for other women?

Just because I'm elusive and my husband and I are not on social media talking about our emotions on an hourly basis, people take the liberty to put out stories about my child and me. It was annoying to read reports about my fitness regimen and the way I'm losing weight. As a couple, we don't share details of our lives with the world at large. So, I will not clarify what we do, how I plan to lose weight or what I do with my baby .I enjoyed my pregnancy and I will enjoy my life on my terms. What kind of a mother I am is something that will unfold with time. I will not scream from rooftops about experiencing motherhood or how much I love Taimur. There's always the pressure of being judged, no matter what you do. It's about how you deal with it.

When we named our son Taimur, everyone in the country suddenly turned into a historian, philosopher and scientist. Everyone seemed to know the meaning of the name, and the supposed history behind it. They even suggested alternate names for my baby. How is my baby's name anyone's business? All this erupted when I wanted to enjoy every moment of being a mother. Saif and I kept it all aside and savoured our time with Taimur. We cherish every moment we have with him.

A woman is instinctive. She has an instinct, whether it's about getting married or having a baby or choosing against it all. And very often, she's right. In other countries, women are relatively free to choose, but why is it such a big deal in India? It's only in our country that people make a hue and cry about a woman's marriage and babies. I don't believe that there's an age earmarked for anything. A lot of people had told me not to get married because they thought no one would work with me, or associate with me as a leading lady. But I followed my gut and got married. And look, I did better work after marriage, which I am proud of. So, follow your instinct, it never misguides.

I think no conditions apply on who you love. It doesn't matter who he is, which community he belongs to and what he does, as long as you love the man and he loves you too. There are no barriers there and that applies to the men, too. Love for men and women, should surpass everything else.

Women should not be questioned about their decisions. To this day, my mother yells at me and I take it. However old I may be, I am still her daughter. I am still her baby. The relationship between a child and a mother cannot be put into words. It cannot be explained and it can't be questioned. Never question a woman's gut and instinct. Women have superior power and they know what the right thing is. They are born with strong intuitions. That's why they say, never question your mom. She's always right.