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A Harmonious Duality – Rannvijay Singha’s Diasporic Lifestyle

In an exclusive interview with DAP, Rannvijay Singha gets candid about his shift to Dubai and how life has changed since he started his career. Read about how he balances between Dubai and India, his time as a father, and his universe – his kids.
lifestyle parenting
Harmonious Duality – Rannvijay Singha’s Diasporic Lifestyle

By Arshiya Kunwar

“We named our daughter Kainaat because she is our universe. Kainaat is a very beautiful name. Her nickname is Kai, we love it,” says Rannvijay, speaking to us all the way from Dubai. Currently working on multiple projects including Shark Tank India, Rannvijay Singha has come a long way since he won MTV Roadies back in 2003. An actor, host, and extremely well-loved TV personality, he is now also a doting father of two kids. Proudly continuing, he says, “Jahaan because if one is the universe the other has to be my world. He is a cutie and he means the world to us and because he’s a Sikh, his full name is Jahaanvir. So it’s Kainaat Singha and Jahaanvir Singha. I love the names because these names mean exactly what the kids mean to us – they are our universe and our world.”

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The shift from Jalandhar to Dubai

Born in a military hospital in Jalandhar, Rannvijay is part of a five-generation army family. Due to different postings in small towns and big cities alike, he has travelled a lot, having attended nine different schools including a boarding school. “We had the best life, you know. We were in places that had a very small population, small towns with only one school, so we had a really nice childhood. I went to college in Delhi when I got to play basketball for my university and that’s where my love for bikes began. I went on to win a Karizma and got to see a different path where I could do the things that I wanted in life like riding bikes, playing sports, travelling, and adventure.” His shift to Mumbai in 2003 marked the beginning of his tremendous TV and movie career, allowing him to travel across the world. He elaborates, “I met my wife in India when I was 29. She is from London so we had both our children there in 2017 and then in 2021. We settled down in Dubai after COVID as Priyanka has family there. So now I’m in India for 15-16 days a month and the rest of the time I’m with my family. I travel depending on work but it’s amazing because when I’m in Dubai, I get to spend a lot of time with my kids and my family doing fun and crazy things.” 

Addressing the duality of being Indian and living abroad, the actor is well aware of how to balance these two spheres of his life. He and his family spend their summers in London and have Dubai as their base, ensuring that they get the best experience of both worlds while also retaining their Indian roots. Speaking about his shift, he says, “I would say that we are settled in Dubai but still settling in because it’s a new country. We did feel more settled in London during the pandemic because life was great and I was getting to spend so much time with the kids, doing so many things. If we wanted to do outdoor activities in London, we were allowed within our own bubble. We also celebrated Diwali, Holi, and Christmas there. Even though we were away from India, it’s amazing because you have your own family, you dress up the same way, light diyas. Last year we celebrated Lohri in Dubai after we had just shifted and my parents were also there.” Ranvijay claims, “ I love India, I need India, the fix of India, and I keep getting it,” talking further about his frequent visits to India. His constant travel between different parts of India and Dubai has caused him to lead a hectic life but he doesn’t mind as long as his family feels settled. “I’m one person who has the most hectic lifestyle but I’m okay with it because it serves the purpose. Maybe I’ll slow down and maybe my kids could start traveling with me soon. But I love being in India and love being a normal person when I’m not in India and doing everyday chores with my kids. This shift is enabling me to do both.” He has also inculcated the habit of traveling into his young kids and likes to take them along when he can, “I do these small trips and if I’m doing something really fun, I’ll travel with my daughter from Dubai and have a daddy-daughter thing. My son and wife also come along if I’m shooting around a resort so she could also get a break and we can all spend time together.”

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Experience as a father of two

Rannvijay’s love for his kids shows with every word he speaks about them. He shares his experience as a father, saying, “I actually feel very grateful and blessed to have two beautiful children. One is five and a half and the other is 16 months old. I’ve always wanted a daughter because I’ve seen that daughters are so loving and so affectionate and they are the glue in the family so by God’s grace, we had a daughter. I felt like I’m so so lucky and I love her so much, it was like 100% isse zyada nahi ho sakta hai. But honestly, six months later I realized that I love her even more! The more our relationship developed, the more she started making me feel so special with her love. It is more and more like this unconditional love that people talk about where I can take a bullet for her.”

Talking about how his kids have changed him, Rannvijay continues, “I think as a father, my daughter softened me up because I can do anything for her. My son is also such a marshmallow, such a cutie!” There’s no doubt that Rannvijay shares an eternal bond with both his kids and believes they push him to do better in life. “I’m trying to be as fit as I can because I want to run around and play sports with my kids. That’s what my parents did and it helped me a lot to form a bond with them. I’m thoroughly enjoying being a father and touchwood I’m very grateful to god.” Speaking about the bond with his parents, Rannvijay also talks about how he wants to be an authority figure and a good father to his kids, Kainaat and Jahaanvir, just like his dad was to him. “It’s very important to be an authority figure and I’m saying that because I’m fully wrapped around my daughter’s finger. I’ve become a dad who dances to the tunes of his daughter! The younger one is soon going to see that and then I can’t be a different dad to him, can I? Since my father was an army officer, it was natural for him to be a figure of authority but he wouldn’t need to discipline me regularly because my mum did. I think the most important thing about disciplining your kids is leading a disciplined life yourself. Whatever you want your kids to be, you’ve got to lead by example –  if you want them to be nice to people, you have to be nice to people, if you want them to be active and get up on time to leave for school, they have to see you do that. That’s the approach that I’m taking even though as parents you never know which approach is right or wrong. I’m just going to be there for my kids, make them independent, and make them good human beings. I think disciplining would not be needed if they are just good human beings and know good from bad.”

Life with Priyanka

Rannvijay and Priyanka’s marriage has been nothing but a fairytale. Their chance meeting in India changed their paths forever and turned into a beautiful relationship. “Priyanka is the star! She loves travelling, she is a foodie, and she loves to eat but since 2017, she has just dedicated herself to the kids. She micromanages their lives and she knows everything that is going on.

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Priyanka has this spidey sense when it comes to being a mother. A very dedicated, amazing mother and selfless when it comes to the kids. Seeing her be a mother puts a smile on my face, like thank you yaar, how did you make these two beautiful kids and now you just take care of them and us?”

Rannvijay strongly believes parents don’t have to just be parents, they can still also be a couple who spends time without kids. He ensures that the kids understand that the parents also need time for dinner or a day out while they can spend time with their grandparents. “The kids also need to have those fun nights when they are with their grandparents and the parents are not around. I used to have those as a kid and I just loved that time! Priyanka used to be very spontaneous but since we had kids, she has changed. She puts the kids ahead of her and it does take a toll on us. We recognise that and ensure that the kids understand we need our time as well. We put Kia to sleep at 8:30 and then we have time for ourselves or even when she’s at school we go and grab lunch or get coffee. We are young parents and we are enjoying that.”

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Being hands-on is another quality the parents are very serious about. “Priyanka is a very very hands-on parent, she knows every little detail of my daughter’s day. My role is to be a part of their activities so I go to pick her up from school, get her back, and take her to activities like kathak, drama class, gymnastics, or tennis lessons. I’m the guy who accompanies them but Priyanka is the more hands-on parent who decides everything and schedules it. I’m there for 16-17 days a month so I’m fully dedicated while I’m in Dubai. My schedule revolves around what the kids are doing.” 

The best of both worlds

COVID made everyone’s life come to a standstill. For Rannvijay too, the two years in London were spent at home with family but he did have to keep coming back to India to finish Roadies and Splitsvilla. Talking about that time, he says, It’s difficult leaving kids. Kai and I had already formed a beautiful bond because she was 3 years old by 2020 and we were doing so many things in London like going to the park, strawberry picking, and boating even during the pandemic because those things were allowed. I used to drop her to her kindergarten school and then go pick her up, and we used to walk through Hyde Park. So every time I had to leave her I was a little gutted but I knew that I was going there to work for us and when you work, you know you’re doing it for yourself and your family, right? So that would incentivise me but those flights were really tough because I would end up watching some movie and in every movie, there was some twist and turn that would end up being a father and daughter thing and I would bawl.” 

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Moving to Dubai seemed like a good idea to the family as it allowed Rannvijay to commute easily as well as spend ample time with the kids and Priyanka. “That’s why we moved to Dubai so if I have a one-day job I come in the morning, finish it and leave. The connectivity is so good, the work-life balance is better. That’s the reason we made the shift since my priority is to be with my family. While these kids are growing up I want to be around and once they figure out what they want to do with their lives, college or work-wise, we can’t control that so right now we want to be together with them as a family.”

Culturally speaking, the parents are also very adamant that their children understand the country they come from as well as benefit from the many opportunities they have from living abroad. “Growing up in India was amazing because culturally India is so rich but I was lucky because I also grew up in the amazing infrastructure of the Indian Army life. That’s why I wanted similar things for my kids. In Mumbai, you can’t just go outside and cycle because of the traffic but I remember cycling to go to different places and I wanted my kids to do that. Staying in Dubai, we can go to the beaches and parks, exercise together, go running, complete obstacle courses, go climbing, go to the desert, and even visit swimming pools. I think parents abroad want their kids to learn about the cultural part of their lives and know who they are. Sometimes in India, you don’t do as much but when you’re abroad, you celebrate festivals more often. I want my kids to love their country even if they are growing up somewhere else. It is also my dream that by 17-18, Kai might find a college in India and I want her to get a flavour of staying there. If my son also decides to do something in India, I mean maza aaega!”

Celebrating occasions away from home

Western societies are highly individualistic. But the Indian diaspora brings the element of community into their home away from home, and Rannvijay’s family is no exception. “Every time our families are together, it is like a festival. So on occasions like birthdays, especially now around New Year, everybody is just going to descend down to Dubai. The weather is amazing here, my parents will come from Chandigarh and so will my in-laws. January is also a big time for celebrations as mom, dad, and Kainaath’s birthdays fall in this month.”

Staying away from India is always tough for Rannvijay, especially on Diwali but the best part about being an Indian is that wherever you go, you celebrate and are proud of being an Indian! “Because now we are so close, living in Dubai, we can take the kids to Chandigarh to Nana and Nani or go to London during Christmas. We are always trying to get different experiences so that we don’t miss out on anything.” Talking about this year’s Diwali celebrations, Rannvijay says, “My wife loves dressing for the occasion. The kids dress up too, they wear Indian outfits. This year we had people come over to our house in Dubai on the 24th, we lit diyas and put up a lot of decorations. My daughter loves it, it was fully lit in my house!” 

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Travel and adventure at every turn

Rannvijay has been the poster child for adventure, travel, biking, and sports. We have always known him as a free-spirited traveller who likes the thrill of the outdoors. Has that changed since he became a father? Definitely not! A proud owner of seven motorcycles, he is currently invested in using electric motorcycles and is also a brand ambassador for one such brand. “The bikes I ride the most are electric motorcycles and I think that’s the future. I’m so impressed with the government and the entrepreneurial spirit in India is just amazing as there are so many companies making electric vehicles right now. I ride around in one everywhere and I’m also converting many people from using fuel to electric. But at the same time, I do have some bikes that use petrol and there is a different charm to that. In Dubai, I have a very close friend who is a motocross champion so I go to the desert with him and it’s an amazing experience and it’s tough so I really do enjoy that.”

Rannvijay claims that one of the best trips of his life happened recently when his dad retired from the Army as a Lieutenant General. His father and he rode from Chandigarh to Leh with 30 people, completing the journey of a lifetime together! He continues, “It was one of the best times that my dad and I had. I haven’t done a bike trip with my wife at all. I was the first person she sat behind on a motorbike. I don’t think she will do a bike trip because she doesn’t like to sit behind for a long time. When my kids are old enough to sit properly and wear the right gear with safety precautions, I definitely want to take them on a bike ride. I’ll be very happy if my kids start riding bikes responsibly like their dad and they have good control over bikes. That will be amazing as it’s another personal thing that I want my kids to be good bike riders.”

Elaborating on travelling with his kids, he also feels it is one of the most educational activities a parent can do. “My parents would take us to different places on our holidays. Travelling is very important because as soon as I take my kids somewhere they see a monument and they start asking about it. It helps them gain knowledge and be inquisitive. Travelling is very important, you learn a lot from it from a young age. Kids are like sponges, they grasp so much, whatever you throw at them, they will absorb.”

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