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The Bright Brigade
Text by Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena and Photographs by Nilesh Acharekar
Published: Volume 15, Issue 5, May, 2007
Young, talented and ambitious, they are making an impact in their chosen careers. Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena spotlights six spunky girls who are on a roll

Wooing The Camera

The new IT girl of modelling, Urvashi Sharma is a natural in front of the camera and on the ramp. Capital born, she moved to Mumbai to fulfil a dearly nourished dream of becoming a star.
Ask her to describe what she sees in the mirror everyday and she says she is tall, fair, with brown hair and dark brown eyes. "I have a beautiful smile, a good skin and a great body," she completes the picture, skilfully giving the finishing touches to her make-up, and confesses that she 'never ever' thought she was beautiful. "I do not look completely Indian, so for a long time when I looked at myself, I would wonder why I was made this way."
Her startling appearance has stood her in good stead though, in her forays into modelling and acting. Contracted with Tips Films and Elite Model Management, Urvashi had no difficulty adjusting to the competitive glitzy arena. "I did not know what camera angles were all about or how to pose perfectly for a frame. I watched others and slowly groomed myself. My sister, Sucheta who is in the same profession, is my support system."
The results are there for all to see. Urvashi who has walked the ramp at Fashion Weeks for designers like Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Ritu Beri, Rina Dhaka and has many campaigns under her belt (like Ponds, Reliance Mobile, McDonalds and Reebok) has signed on more than half a dozen films. She is awaiting the release of her debut film, Nakaab, co-starring Akshaye Khanna and Bobby Deol. "Modelling is where I started and I will never give it up," she says. "Yet, for a girl with no contacts in Bollywood, it has provided the perfect stepping stone for a career in films."

Building A Business

What is a postgraduate in biotechnology doing running a designer store? Earlier interested in making a career out of genetics, Priya Khandelwal is now the proud owner of Afterglow, her recently launched boutique. "I found my calling late in life," she laughs. The graduate from St Xavier's College, Mumbai, returned from Manchester University with a postgraduation degree, only to discover that prime posts eluded her. "I could not find a decent R and D job in Mumbai," she says, "and, for personal reasons, did not want to move to places in the interiors of the country."
Always interested in dressing well and wanting to own her store, Priya switched tracks. "I had taken my personal life a notch further by getting married," she says, "and I was keen on doing something different in my career too. When I had returned from the UK, I could not find clothes that I really liked and so I decided to open a nice boutique that would stock designer wear at reasonable prices."
Thus the idea for Afterglow was born and it took the 27-year-old entrepreneur a little more than six months to translate her concept into reality. "The inspiration for Afterglow does not come from a perfume," she explains. "When you look beautiful and leave the room, your presence is still felt. That is the effect I want to create." In the span of a few months, her business has grown and she works in tandem with almost 20-odd designers who stock their lines in her store. "It is a self-sustaining venture," she states proudly. "I do not expect huge profits. I am happy that my funky, contemporary Western and Indo-Western fusion clothes have been appreciated."

Staging A Success

The curtain has risen on the newly-minted career of veteran stage personalities, Alyque Padamsee and Sharon Prabhakar's 19-year-old daughter. Noticed for her natural performance in Gary Richardson's skit Be Fair - and also seen in Dragon Fly and Kill Your Horse - Shazahn Padamsee has begun to stage a success in the world of theatre... and films.
Having grown up in a theatrical household, 'being dramatic' is second nature to young Shazahn. "I spent many days in green rooms and in auditoria watching plays being put together. It was so creative and the exposure increased my confidence. That was the best acting school I could have ever gone to," she says.
Acting, interestingly, happened recently to the girl who has completed event management and computer courses. "I knew I would be drawn into it at some stage of my life," admits Shazahn who has been greatly influenced by her 'cool' dad. "He is slowly turning out to be my guru. It is nerve-wracking going on stage…before my first performance, Dad came backstage and we went into a huddle."
The excitement of facing the arclights has not yet worn out for the performer who has already begun receiving offers from Hindi film-makers. "I am open to anything since I love acting and will do any role," says Shazahn. "I have a great respect for everyone in Hindi cinema. The actor I most admire is Amitabh Bachchan. I am in no hurry. Honestly, I have just begun and have a long way to go."