Fit as a fiddle, actress-anchor Mandira Bedi, 45, does push-ups effortlessly in a sari, runs marathons and has worked her way towards washboard abs. Mandira says she feels her fittest ever, and finds it interesting that she is mostly offered roles of either a gangster or a police officer.
"Over the last two years, the roles that get offered to me are either of a gangster or of a cop... By the way, I'm pretty bada**... So, it's nice. I am happy. The short hair and the whole fitness thing... People can only see me as a cop or a gangster," Mandira told IANS over the phone from Mumbai, laughing.
Mandira became a known face as the kohl-eyed, curly-haired, fiery and independent protagonist from TV serial "Shanti", which was a rage among Indian telly viewers in mid-1990s. She also surprised viewers as the uber stylish cricket show presenter.
The actress' transformation over the years has been tremendous.
"I have changed a lot from then, of course," said Mandira, who has in recent times played a government agent in TV show "24" and a police officer in Tamil movie "Adangathey".
Her last release "Vodka Diaries" saw her essay a poetess and her upcoming movie "Saaho" will see her as a gangster.
All through her shooting schedules as well as other work and home commitments and even vacations, what brings her peace is her fitness sessions. She loves running, and even ran at the Tata Mumbai Marathon as the face of ASICS.
Mandira said: "Running has become a huge thing. People are taking to it more than ever. Even if I step out at 7 a.m. in my neighbourhood, there are around 20 or 25 runners, a mix of struggling and seasoned ones. The running culture has picked up over the last two years... For me, running is like meditation."
However, running a marathon, she says, is something "you do for yourself".
"There's a wonderful sense of achievement when you complete a run. These are goals and challenges you give yourself. And it's so good to see so many people who are motivated to do stuff like this now. It's great that fitness has become so much bigger in people's conscience now than before," added the mother of a six-year-old boy.
Mandira said the trigger for her journey towards fitness was an invitation to be a part of reality TV show "Khatron Ke Khiladi".
"I wanted to be a strong contender, wanted to compete for it and I wanted to be good. That's when I got myself a personal trainer and started working out seriously. After that, I enjoyed it so much... Now I haven't trained with a trainer in many years. I am self-motivated now and I love exercising... Not just for what it does physically, but mentally and emotionally too."
She admits that initially her draw was also to get slim and trim, but ultimately it became about not just looking good, but feeling good too.
"I am stronger and fitter than I ever was... I think this is the fittest and best version of me. I genuinely feel good."
(with IANS inputs)