The last two years, even with a pandemic hitting the world, have been more than satisfying for Yami Gautam, who started her journey in Bollywood 11 years ago. Back-to-back hits and critical acclaim put Yami in the big league with a promising future—a title first bestowed upon her post her debut film, Vicky Donor. As we chat up Yami, the many layers of her personality reveal themselves. She is a charming conversationlist, and the perfect embodiment of the modern woman with lofty goals and a desire to make a difference in the world. Yami touches upon her hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow. Here’s an excerpt from our heartfelt chat, where she talks about the biggest lessons she learnt from the lockdown and what the world might look like post-COVID.
On the 'New Normal' and What the Post-Covid World Could Be Like
“The pandemic has certainly altered the way we live, forever...or at least till we get a handle on the virus with the vaccine. I think maintaining distance and wearing a mask have become reflex actions—I might forget my water bottle at home, but I never forget to carry my mask and hand sanitiser. However, I see that the initial anxiety of dealing with the unknown is now under control. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that no-one can predict the future. Especially after having known that the virus is mutating and doctors have found new strains.
Coordinated jacket and shorts, Saaksha & Kinni; belt, Christian Dior; earrings, Valliyan by Nitya Arora; boots, Saint G.
I am sure I speak for a lot of people when I say that I hope we continue to focus on cleanliness and hygiene, even after the pandemic has passed. These are some of the most elementary things that we are taught as children, but, somehow, we have taken them for granted. The pandemic made us realise the importance of it all, and many people had to relearn something as basic as how to maintain personal hygiene. But it is not just about keeping yourself germ-free; we must also ensure that our surroundings are clean. I was in Himachal Pradesh recently, and we stopped to have a cup of tea at a dhaba. I stood there taking in the scenery, enjoying the beautiful valley, but the moment I looked down, there was so much litter! And I thought, ‘Why can’t we be civilised?!’ . We need to educate children as well as adults about these things, to make them understand the importance of preserving the natural beauty that we have been blessed with. Little changes can truly make the world a better place. I feel whatever we have been giving to the Universe, it all came back in the worst of ways in 2020. So if a global pandemic can’t make us change our ways, I don’t know what will! I truly hope that the future includes a better, cleaner world than what it was before 2020.”
On Her Biggest Learnings During the Lockdown
“The past year grounded me in more ways than one. It reaffirmed my belief that your family is your biggest strength. There was so much uncertainty, and I just wanted to be with my family...I wanted to be home. But I was stuck in Mumbai, working—dubbing for films—during the peak of COVID-19. I guess solitude is the biggest punishment for a human being. I also realised the importance of being patient. To trust the greater plan, and believe that we will sail through it...that everything will work out.
Dress, Ritu Kumar; jacket, Vipul Shah; boots, Christian Louboutin; belt, Christian Dior
Practising yoga religiously is another thing I went back to during the lockdown. I don’t know why I would always run away from it...even though I know how good it is for me, for my overall health and emotional well-being. I have now devised an hour-long routine that has brought a sense of discipline in my life. It is something I would definitely like to keep working on.
I even unlearned a few things...that is also a learning, right? I am a very sensitive person, and I tend to take everything very seriously. And sometimes, I am too critical about myself. So this period helped me appreciate myself more. I realised that it is okay to let go. And when you do that, you face fewer disappointment in your life.”
On the Changes She has Made for a Better Tomorrow
“I have been making a conscious effort to use as little plastic as possible. I understand that buying a glass water-bottle is costlier, but it is definitely better for the environment as it is easier to reuse and recycle. I don’t use any plastic at home. I know that I can’t solve the issue alone, and that’s the reason I am very focused on raising awareness about why one must refrain from using plastic, and preserve water and electricity. I ensure that there is no power running when I am not at home. I try to educate as many people as I can around me.
In fact, I would like to share an incident that took place recently. I was at the airport, and the sight was unreal! The mandatory face shields given to each passenger come in a plastic bag, and people just take the shield out and throw the bag wherever they please...littering the entire airport. I couldn’t help but take it up with the airport officials, and they told me that people were just not willing to listen. But we’ll have to come up with a solution: either levy a hefty fine or don’t let people board if they don’t maintain decorum. I mean, that’s what we can do individually...correct people when we see them doing something wrong. Even when people visit the beach, they should keep in mind that we need to protect marine life. If we don’t take strict measures to save the environment, we won’t survive. If each of us pledge to alter our lifestyle, we can make a huge difference.”
Photographs: Taras Taraporevala;
Styling: Zunaili Malik;
Hair: Flavien Heldt at Faze Management;
Make-Up: Vidhi Salecha Panjabi;
Production: P. Productions;
Fashion Assistants: Humaira Lakdawala and Manveen Guliani;
Fashion Interns: Aarushi Garg and Ananya Banerjee;
Photographers Agency: Inega Model Management