People | The Fresh List 2011

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The Fresh List 2011
Published: Volume 19, Issue 1, January, 2011

VIDHI KASLIWAL
FILM DIRECTOR 28

Hometown: Mumbai.

So far: Assistant director for maternal uncle, Sooraj Barjatya’s Vivah, and chief assistant director for his next Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi.

Beginnings: How I took to direction is very random. I wanted to be a businesswoman but my experience in my college dramatics society steered me towards doing something in the creative field. I tried events, headed an entertainment centre for my father, got into textiles, followed by a short stint with TV and then finally films.

The feeling of being behind the camera for the first time: I couldn’t believe my day had finally arrived. It was surreal.

Your idols: Sooraj Barjatya.

Bollywood myths: That it’s a politicking world…an insecure world... a world of betrayal…a world of facades. The Bollywood fraternity is a very welcoming one and it can be as beautiful as you want it to be.

A director’s inspiration: Great inspirations come from real-life experiences.

A story you have always wanted to direct: Doctor Zhivago.

Blake Edwards or Frank Capra? You can’t choose between two timeless stalwarts who are brilliant and can inspire in their own way. I like Blake Edwards for creating lovable characters and Frank Capra for making simplistic but very endearing movies.

Karan Johar or Sanjay Leela Bhansali? Karan Johar for his glamour and opulence, Sanjay Leela Bhansali for his visual brilliance.

Katrina Kaif or Konkona Sen Sharma? Katrina Kaif for her innocence and Konkona Sen Sharma for her naturalness.

Five favourite movies: Doctor Zhivago, The Prestige, Prem Rog, Maine Pyar Kiya, Andaz Apna Apna (in random order).

A day in your life: Working from dawn to dusk unto dawn to complete my film Isi Life Mein, which is a story of a small-town girl and her life in Mumbai. The movie is in the final stages of post-production and promotional activities are on the brink.

Last movie watched: I watched Lord of the Rings – Return of the King on DVD, just for inspiration.

On your iPod: All kinds of music right from Bollywood to classical to jazz to hip hop to rock to Telugu and Indonesian songs – I love music.

One thing that makes you laugh: Spending time with my four-month-old nephew, Aditya.

One thing that makes you cry? When I see my pillars of strength – my parents and grandparents – get emotional.

VARUNIKA SARAF
ARTIST 29

Hometown: Hyderabad.

So far: Master of Fine Arts in painting from the S.N School, Hyderabad; joined the M.Phil programme at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, for my PhD (which I am in the middle of right now) as I always wanted to study art history and do research. Along the way, I’ve had a few group shows and two solo shows.

A day in your life: Of late, I get up, procrastinate, oscillate between painting and reading, choose one and continue it for the rest of the day.

When not working: I have forgotten what that feels like.

The feeling when you saw your first artwork sell: I sold my first work while I was still doing my BFA. That was a long time ago. After that first sale, I didn’t sell anything for many years; so now it’s difficult to remember what I felt like then, but I do recall saying, ‘Now at least I can get some nice art material on my own’.

Your muse: None. It is such a ‘male thing’ to have a muse!

Inspiration: Life, people, works of art, literature, I guess just about anything under the sun.

Design school or real world? Academia for sure!

Art heroes: Artists are not heroes; they are far too human for that.

Artistic quest: To keep on painting without getting stuck.

Beginnings: Still at it.

If not an artist: Can’t imagine anything else. If I lived any other life, I would definitely be bored to death.

Most valued criticism: That I have the ability to assimilate complex sources.

You in three words: Talkative, friendly, crazy!

Your favourite character in a film: Amelie in Amelie directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Three favourite artists: I like different artists for different reasons.

Currently reading: Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence.

One thing you want to change about the art industry: I want to forget for a while that it is an industry; it’s a support system. I would love to hear more about the what (the art) rather than the ‘Who’ and ‘Where’.

One thing to look forward to in 2011: Field work for my PhD.

UMANG JAIN
MODEL 20

Hometown: Mumbai

So far: Have done more than 60 television commercials along with short films, video albums and print promos. Most famous and successful ads include Airtel, Docomo, Cadburys and the recent Sony Handycam campaigns.

You in three words: Worth my salt.

On seeing yourself on the screen for the first time: Very much like a fairy-tale fantasy coming true. I wanted to see more of me!

Common model myths: That we can’t act, we are party animals, academically – we are total failures and we are basically not good at the jobs that require intellectual powering.

Coming up: Commercial modelling and an untitled film by the year end.

On Bollywood: I have been noticed by the biggies of the industry, but it’s a little too early to talk about anything.

Best compliment so far: There are three: “My mum/dad loves all your ads”, “I want to be like you” and “You’ll turn out to be an ideal partner”.

Runway scorcher or screen goddess? Screen goddess.

Covetable body type – Kate Moss or Kate Winslet? Kate Moss.

Summery dresses or Jeans and T-shirts: Summery dresses.

YASH GOENKA
REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER 23

Hometown: Mumbai.

So far: Completed schooling from Aiglon School, Switzerland; a graduate in Business Management from the University of London; the youngest real estate developer of the country; founder and managing director, Conwood Realty Pvt Ltd.

On being the boss: It is very exciting. There is a lot of pressure as I have 60 people under me and everybody – from the peons to the top-level management – is older than me. I need to know my business very well and work harder than the rest to be taken seriously.

Are you a workaholic? Totally, even when I am not in my office I am working on my phone.

On weekends: Every Friday night I turn my age and dress up and go out partying with my gang.

Yourself, in brief: Different; I have a vision; I know what I want.

On green buildings: Builders need to make sure Mumbai grows in a sustainable form.

Hobbies: Music, collecting watches, cars.

Fave car: Mercedes-Benz G-55.

From the creative genes: I design my own buildings and give briefs to my architects who tweak the plans a little bit.

Important advice from Dad: Never over-leverage yourself.

Cool gadgets: My room which is wired and runs on a single remote and my Aston Martin that opens with a watch.

iPhone or BlackBerry? BlackBerry.

In 2011: Launching two large commercial buildings with 300 ‘nano’ offices for people who haven’t inherited office spaces.

RIKIN GANDHI
ENTREPRENEUR 29

Hometown: Cherry Hill, New Jersey, USA.

So far: Digital Green’s chief executive officer – it is a project at Microsoft Research India; licensed private pilot; received patents for linguistic search algorithms at Oracle.

Inspiration behind this initiative: I’ve always been a big dreamer. After a period of reflection while working at Oracle as a software engineer and on the verge of joining the Unites States Air Force, I changed course to see how I could contribute toward making poverty history.

Biggest learning in your field of work: Over the last several years, I have become convinced that development is more challenging than ‘rocket science’.

Eat and work out or starve and laze? Eat and work out.

Favourite books: The Count of Monte Cristo, Rocket Boys, Life of Pi.

Hobbies: Trekking, flying, farming, reading.

The role of music in your life: Now, it’s more of the listening sort. I used to play saxophone.

Facebook or twitter? LinkedIn.

Three things you will take on a lonely isle: Knife, matches, boat.

You in a few words: Astronaut, farmer....

Biggest learning about life in India: ‘Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.’ (Mark Twain).

Your favourite character in a film: Indiana Jones.

Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe? Audrey Hepburn.

A day in the life: As Digital Green’s chief executive officer, I am intimately involved in developing our team, coordinating our partnerships and establishing the long-term vision and strategy for our organisation.

Support system: Family, friends, and team mates.

Hurdles in your path of work: Working with a diversity of partners and communities to affect change at individual and institutional levels.

Currently reading: Team of Rivals.

Biggest learning from your life in the US: ‘The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.’ (Mark Twain).

ATHIRA KRISHNA
MUSICIAN 23

Hometown: Trivandrum.

So far: A Guinness World Record for her 32-hour long non-stop Carnatic violin solo concert; two performances at the Rashtrapati Bhavan; the National Balshree Honour 2001; first Indian classical musician to perform at the famed 1000-year-old church at Kaiserwerth, Germany; first Indian classical musician to perform at the International Music Festival of Germany – ‘Jazz Meets Classics’; Limca National Record 2005; performances at various international music festivals.

Childhood: Completely different from normal students. I was rarely in class as I was travelling and constantly performing.

The bonus: Lots of hard work, but I also had the rare privilege of performing before giants like Dr M Balamuralikrishna and Ustad Bismillah Khan.

Chip of the old block: Our family has deep roots in Carnatic vocal music but I am the first violinist in the family. Dad taught me by singing. Since my grandfather was an eminent stalwart of yesteryears, people had high expectations from me too.

Best concert memory: My first one. Some artistes did not turn up for a show and local organisers called me at the last minute. The one-hour programme went on for three hours!

Cherished compliment: On his birthday, the former President APJ Abdul Kalam invited me for a concert at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and told me that my music was his best birthday gift!

Playing 32-hours non-stop: The experience was rather ethereal. After 24 hours, it was like playing on a different plain, almost like a floating experience.

Favourite artists: Dr M Balamuralikrishna, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Sangitha Kalanidhi, TN Seshagopalan, Professor TR Subramaniam, Dr N Ramani, Ustad Zakir Hussain, R K Srikantan, Gangubai Hangal.

On a lazy Sunday: Unfortunately Sundays are never lazy as they are filled with concerts, jamming sessions or composing.

Bollywood music: It’s another facet of music. In the end, they are the same seven notes but the ornamentations differ.

Aspirations of getting in there: I do compose a lot for my fusion concerts, documentaries and live productions, so that’s one cup of tea I definitely wish to drink!

MANASI RACHH
ACTOR 26

Hometown: Mumbai.

So far: In theatre, Walking To The Sun, Aisa Kehte Hai, Balli Aur Shambu and Confessions.

Being on stage for the first time: Unforgettable.

How did you develop a fascination for the stage? When I was assisting in ad films, I got intrigued by acting. I got introduced to theatre. I remember sitting nights on end, watching actors rehearse for plays. It all seemed like magic to me, and that’s where it all started.

Theatrical icons: I really like Pina Bausch, Ratan Thiyam and closer to home, Sunil Shanbhag, Manav Kaul, Rajat Kapoor and Atul Kumar.

Stage fright? Experience it before every show. But as soon as the third bell rings, excitement overpowers fright.

Playing a boy in Walking To The Sun: Beautiful. In the beginning it was difficult because I had a stereotype of a 12-year-old boy in my head. But eventually you realise that at the end of the day it’s not about gender or age, but more about emotions. Hope is hope whether it is for a 12-year-old boy trapped in a house or a 25-year-old girl caught in the city of dreams.

Dressing up, off stage: I’m a lazy dresser. I usually wear an old pair of jeans and a T-shirt.

Best known as: Amal in theatre, Shamansi Pants back home.

Upcoming projects: Afwah, a play in Hindi and am reading a few other scripts.

Inspiration as an actor: Life.

A play you have always wanted to be a part of? Giribala by the late Chetan Datar.

Dream role: Amal from Walking To The Sun.

On donning make-up: I love it because it can totally transform you and give you different avatars.

You in real life: Fun.

Theatre or film? Both.

A film role you wish you’d played: Tabu’s character in The Namesake.

A day in your life: Wake up, meditate, rehearsals, auditions, catching up with friends, not sleeping before 12:00 a.m.

Best performance memory: In Walking To The Sun, there’s a monologue where Amal, the 12-year-old boy, describes his longing to get out of the four walls. During it, I have seen people crying and quietly wiping their tears.

Best piece of criticism so far: After a show an old lady came up to me. It was evident she had got quite emotional during the performance. She said, “I don’t know you, beta, but can I please give you a hug?” It was the warmest hug I ever got.

Currently reading: Laughable Loves by Milan Kundera.

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