“I have been tougher on Navya than on Agastya,” says Shweta Bachchan, designer and columnist, speaking at We The Women, the flagship festival curated by award-winning journalist Barkha Dutt. “It’s because I feel that the world isn’t easy on women, and you have to be stronger, more vigilant and careful,” she said when asked by Dutt if there was any difference in the way she had brought up her son and daughter. “It’s not about deadlines or curfews; their personalities are also different. Agastya is a bit of an old soul. Navya is a little more naive and trusting …”
At the sixth edition of We the Women held on ground in Jaipur and streamed live on Mojo Story, the Mother-Daughter Duo spoke on being their own Bachchans and how they have forged their own identities.
Navya Naveli Nanda – who is an entrepreneur with a company (Aara Health) devoted to women and public health and also works with her father, Nikhil Nanda at the Escorts group – said she did not have to wait till she was 70 to talk about change.
“I chose to put myself out there, whether its my work, whether its my podcast, I chose to put myself out there knowing what could come, both the positive and the negative ..One of the big things I got told (on Twitter) a couple of months ago is that I am not qualified to do what I do, that I don’t know about the state of women and so on.. My logic is that the majority of the people in India are young. I don’t think there’s a right age to speak against something or speak for something. And if I am 25 then a majority of people in my country are also close to my age. So if we are not going to talk, who else is going to build the future of the country?”
Shweta Bachchan, who described herself as both ‘extremely shy” and private told Barkha Dutt, “Navya is a lot like my mother (Jaya Bachchan), she has a lot of conviction and it’s not easy to shake that. She is passionate about a lot of causes and is vocal about them. She is a lot more comfortable about getting on a stage and talking than I am.”
Speaking of growing up always in the public eye, Shweta Bachchan said their growing years were insulated. “When we were younger we had a very protected upbringing. No film magazines were allowed at home, ever. They sort of banned my father and he banned them back… we never had them at home. It was not until I was Navya’s age that we understood all this… I don’t know if I did it consciously. I credit my mother for instilling these values in us, which we have transferred to our children. I’m not an actor. And when you belong to a family of actors, you do face the dark side, especially when people write something nasty about you,” she said.
The only time Shweta Bachchan and Navya Nanda had “a really big disagreement” was about a belly piercing, revealed the mother and daughter, laughing at the memory. “I was very young at the time and went ahead and got it anyway. She said can i see it and I was like, sure… and she just removed it.“
“When we talk about last names and living up to them, I think everyone in the room has the responsibility to do so. It gives me a sense of pride,” Navya Naveli Nanda told Barkha Dutt.
Navya Naveli Nanda, was awarded with the H.E.R Award for being a Woman of Impact in 2023 and received the award from Vani Kola, one of India’s most respected and powerful business leaders. Nanda, spoke candidly about her passion for making menstrual health and hygiene a normal part of everyday conversation. “Hearing stories like these fuels my passion to work towards women’s healthcare. We’re basically working towards making these conversations a new normal,” Navya says.
Proud mother, Shweta Bachchan, affectionately joked, “Sometimes I tell Navya, you are a bit too serious for your age.”
Immersing in the belief of Freedom to be their best self, Shweta Bachchan-Nanda and her daughter, Navya Naveli Nanda, spoke about their family’s legacy, their entrepreneurial ventures, and their passion for women’s healthcare during the conversation with journalist Barkha Dutt at the We the Women event. Navya, born to a family of actors and entrepreneurs, says she takes pride in her family name but acknowledges the pressure that comes with it. She has been working on her startup, which focuses on women’s healthcare, for three years and is also involved with a non-profit organization.
The mother-daughter duo also discussed the importance of breaking taboos around menstruation and their efforts to make these conversations a new normal. Shweta revealed that she has been tough on Navya because the world is not easy for women, however, she also acknowledges that her daughter has the liberty to live the life the way she wants. “I have faced criticism on social media but I choose to focus on the positives and negatives that come with putting myself out there,” Navya added.