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Verve People
March 08, 2016

Gene Junction: Tara Sharma Saluja

Text by Zaral Shah

Actor Tara Sharma talks about her diverse background and the importance of values over heritage

Creator, host and co-producer of The Tara Sharma Show, and actor

Having inherited more than just her Indo-English lineage from her parents, Tara Sharma believes that the biggest gifts that parents can give their children are education, values, family and love. She wears her heritage proudly and her children continue to do the same. After working in 15 films, she now has her own show, The Tara Sharma Show, which she co-produces and hosts.

A diverse background
“I believe that each one’s situation is right for them. More than where one is from, I think it is the values we have that are important. I have never given much thought to being half English and half Indian, as my parents made a conscious decision when we were young to expose us to both heritages, while also bringing us up with the feeling that we belong in the place we are living – India. I embrace both my Indian and English roots but the fact that my parents loved each other and got on so well, taught us that borders and boundaries mean little when values are common.”

A mixed family
“We celebrate festivals of both sides and meet all our relatives…being children from a mixed marriage has taught us to be tolerant and encouraging of all from a young age. We have a mix of cuisines at home. There’s usually Indian for lunch and Continental for dinner.”

The grandparents’ factor
“As kids we spent holidays with both sets of grandparents, and were close to both. Though my parents initially faced some resistance when they decided to get married (which is not surprising given it was in the 60s and 70s when cross cultural marriages were much rarer), eventually it all worked out. After we were born, our English grandparents would visit for Christmas which we celebrated together at our farm in Mahabaleshwar.”

The importance of heritage
“I don’t think your heritage defines you – your values do, and for that I’m eternally grateful to both my parents. They have always encouraged my sister Namrita and me and brought us up to be very secure and content. As a child I do remember sometimes wondering why we were different (and perhaps didn’t make the same Indian snacks at home as others did) but I soon embraced these slight differences and by the time I went to Italy to study at 16, I loved telling people I am half Indian and half English, it sounded quite exotic!”

Travelling around the world
“My family has always been quite global, and we travel a lot for work or personal reasons. My sister’s husband is of Chinese origin and she lived in Shanghai for 10 years before moving to England. My husband, Roopak (Saluja) is half Sardar and half Nepalese. Our kids are quarter English, quarter Nepali and half Punjabi…quite a mix! Being the son of a diplomat, Roopak has lived in many countries and speaks nine languages fluently. I am perhaps the one most attached to Bombay, so our home is always here but that doesn’t abate the travel bug. Places we often visit are London, Goa, Mahabaleshwar, France and Italy.”

Future calling
“I’m very ambitious, though as a mother, my kids are my priority. I want to grow at a pace that I’m comfortable with. The rules for an entrepreneur and a mom-trepreneur are a little different.”

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