MY MOTHER, MY FRIEND
Jewellery designers Roopa and Mitaali Vohra strike a beautiful balance with their artistic and creative, contemporary and commercial approaches to their craft.
ROOPA VOHRA, 46, AND MITAALI VOHRA, 23
Roopa Vohra, celebrated jewellery designer, always hoped for a girl child. And a daughter she did have, the one she claims is the only real girlfrie
nd she has. Growing up, Mitaali watched Roopa meticulously create beautiful pieces of fine jewellery, but she didn’t naturally follow in her footsteps. “Actually, I had wanted to work in a creative field, but I had no clue that my genes would kick in and find their way into my decision making,” says Mitaali, smiling.
A WORKING RELATIONSHIP
While Mitaali is Roopa’s pillar of strength on a rough day or entertainment when she needs a breather, Roopa is Mitaali’s sounding board at work. And despite her strong independent streak, Mitaali is not comfortable making decisions until she has run them by her mum.
“She gives me the assurance I need,” she avers. Roopa, on her part, admits how much she enjoys working and growing in the same field as her daughter. “The creative juices flow with the same goals in mind,” she says. “Mitaali has a wonderful grip on what works commercially; so her perspective proves invaluable at work, especially at instances when I tend to get carried away artistically.”
But Mitaali is quick to admit how lucky she feels to have Roopa’s guidance even though the latter is hard to please sometimes. “But it is because I know she is trying to maintain the standard that she has already set,” explains Mitaali. “And it drives me to push myself harder to reach that bar, too. Mum has always encouraged me to make my own mistakes. All the choices I make are generated from within but reinforced by her subtle guidance.”
A NICHE FOR PRIDE
Years ago, Roopa had carved a place for herself in a male-dominated industry, and has never felt threatened since. “I have brought my daughter up the same way. We’re here to kick ass and we’re as sharp and strong as any man,” she says. Listening to her mum speak, Mitaali chuckles and then adds to it. “My mother has always taught me to be financially independent. And I truly believe that women rule; I think men are aware of that.” With a Mother’s Day descending upon them, both mum and daughter are aware of what it means to each of them. “We don’t have any distinct celebrations for the day, but we ensure that we spend time together, sometimes even flying across the world to do so. In fact, I had once stayed with her in her college dorm,” remembers Roopa, laughingly.
“It was great, and I remember feeling like a student all over again.” For Mitaali, good food and having her favourite person around are good enough to make the day special for her. “But because I’m the more emotional one, the special celebrations are initiated by me,” she says, signing off.
—As told to Priya Nair
A FORMIDABLE DUO
Partners in life and business, mother-daughter pair Jaqueline and Ayesha Kapur, talk about their bond and more.
JACQUELINE KAPUR, 50
AYESHA KAPUR, 21
Ayesha Kapur, the young actor whose breakthrough performance in the Hindi film Black won rave reviews and accolades, is all grown up and is now the face of a young and funky jewellery brand called Ayesha Accessories. Ayesha and her mother Jaqueline are the brains behind the brand, which was born out of their shared love for accessories and shopping.
AT HOME WITH EACH OTHER
Jacqueline has consciously built an easy relationship with both her kids. “I expect them to respect me not merely because I am their mother but because I deserve that respect and love. Of course, I am no Mother Teresa. Some days I maybe grumpy and on others, I may be overprotective. And my kids have all the freedom to speak their mind or call me out on my bad behaviour.” And that kind of independence, Ayesha feels, comes handy in business, too. She elucidates, “I know, at work, I am not just her daughter, and I maintain that professional state of mind. She has always given me the space to make mistakes and learn from them. Even if we disagree or argue over something, we don’t hold grudges and the love, respect and understanding we have as a mother-daughter always sees us through.”
KEEPING UP WITH WORK
“When Ayesha was a kid, she used to accompany me on my merchandising trips for my store in Pondicherry,” recalls Jacqueline.“We’ve been to some of the remotest parts of the country to buy one-of-its-kind jewellery pieces.” As time flew, Ayesha felt that as a young Indian girl, there wasn’t a store that had pieces she could relate to or afford to buy. Most of the international brands available in the country were overpriced and had limited or outdated collections. “We first started selling pieces as an experiment in one corner of Mum’s store. They were a huge hit among customers. Now, we have stores that are located in malls across cities like Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore,” relates Ayesha.
MOTHER’S DAY OUT
While Jacqueline is her cool self, ensuring her kids will always have the freedom to talk to her without being scared of being judged, Ayesha’s bond with her mother has convinced her that though it’s nice to have a special day to celebrate mothers, they have to be loved and respected daily. “Of course, I hope we will always love and respect each other and not on special occasions alone. That being said, Ayesha can always bring me super-cool presents any day,” she says with a laugh.
-As told to Eva Pavithran
SOUL-SISTERS FOR LIFE
Versatile singer Alka Yagnik and her daughter Syesha Kapoor discuss the bond they share, which goes beyond that of a mother–daughter.
ALKA YAGNIK, 50
SYESHA KAPOOR, 26
She maybe one of the most beloved singers of the world with a career-span that’s spread over three decades, but at home, Alka Yagnik is just like any other mother. “We share an easy bond and we are like friends, but of course, she’s my mother at the end of the day,” says Syesha. “And she is the one I run to when I need an advice.”
“I think we are more like soul-sisters and friends who share everything with each other,” says Alka. “Syesha is a go-getter, whereas I am a laidback person. While I am tolerant, she can get very sensitive. So we have little tiffs almost every day, screaming at each other. But those tiffs get resolved soon after, too.”
Interestingly, despite how Alka’s rendition moves her, Syesha chose a career different from that of mother. “My mother is gifted, and music is in my blood,” Syesha tells us. “However, Mum never made it mandatory for me to follow it like a profession.” Of course, being Alka’s daughter, people expected her to sing. But Syesha’s keenness was towards getting into marketing, business and similar fields. “I let her know very early in her life that she needed to do what she liked,” says Alka. “And when she decided that she wanted to get into food and hospitality, I supported her wholeheartedly.”
“I did not want to do a mediocre job about anything, and my mother knew that,” says Syesha, who co-owns a neighbourhood gourmet Boveda Bistro. “I wanted to do something I love and wanted to excel in it. As for singing, I realise there are too many singers today, who don’t really even stay back in your mind. And I didn’t want to be just ordinary in my career and get lost in that scenario. So yes, I can hold a note and I understand music enough to catch when someone falters.” But proud mommy thinks more of her daughter’s crooning talents than the latter does herself. “Syesha can sing; she simply never pursued it,” she intervenes. “She never learnt music, as it was only a hobby for her from the beginning. And it never bothered me that she never had it thought of a singing career for herself.
THE TECHNO TIFFS
Even with their busy lives, the mum–daughter duo makes it a point to stay in touch all the time. In addition to calling each other at least four or five times a day, talking about serious or frivolous issues, they bond over things that matter to each other. For instance, Syesha is a total technology-freak and always tries to keep her mum abreast with technology, having recently managed to teach the singer to use an iPad. “Now, mum’s hooked on to it, watching online videos and Pakistani TV shows that she loves,” says Syesha with a chuckle. “The iPad is the new thing in her life and she is just begun exploring its potential.” “I am pretty bad with this whole ‘social networking’. The little I do end up doing online is because of Syesha,” responds Alka, as the duo signs off.
-As told to Sruthi Rajan
Anjori and Maya Alagh believe that mother-daughter bonds only get stronger with time.
MAYA ALAGH, 56
ANJORI ALAGH, 35
Anjori Alagh, owner of House proud. In, shares a close-knit relationship with her actor–mother Maya Alagh whom she also calls her chill-out partner. Anjori has always been able to confide in her mother, be it about her work troubles, broken heart, passions, music playlist or what she wants to do in her next life. “I have always looked up to my mother, and that will never change,” says Anjori. “There is still so much to learn from her.” Maya, too, shares pretty much the same thoughts about the bond she shares with her daughter. “We do have a friendly relationship, though I think I tend to get a little heavy with my words, but she is really a cool kid,” she says.
AN EVER-GROWING BOND
Maya remembers being ecstatic when her daughter decided to become an entrepreneur her face beaming with pride even now, as she recollects the moment. “Though Anjori did have a short acting career, I think she is a fantastic actor,” says Maya. “But as long as she is happy with what she does, I have no qualms. I have wanted my children to never work half-heartedly at anything, so I couldn’t be more proud of the dedication Anjori shows towards her business.” Her mum’s convictions in her are not lost on Anjori. She talks about how her mother never had any rules about the career she chose, always reminding her to follow her passion.
We are curious about the significance of Mother’s Day in Anjori’s life. “Let’s put it this way—I have to call my mother before 10 am to wish her; that’s how important Mother’s Day is,” pat replies Anjori’s. Maya chuckles at her daughter’s response but agrees to what she says. “Sometimes, I don’t even know that it’s Mother’s Day, but receiving an unexpected phone call or flowers are enough to make my day,” adds Maya. “She is quite simple that way, but that phone call has to come first thing in the morning,” quips Anjori, glancing at her mother lovingly. “That being said, I believe it needs to be Mother’s Day every day, and not just on a particular day. Love, as always, has to keep showing on a regular basis.”
-As told to Anisha Suvarna
IN CELEBRATION OF LOVE
Tara finds her individuality through her mum’s ideal of staying true to oneself
NANDINII SEN, 59
TARA ALISHA BERRY (TASHAA), 27
Like clay in the hand of the potter, we all are moulded by our parents, especially mothers, at an impressionable age. We are taught to speak nothing but the truth, respect our elders and show compassion towards others. But unlike many parents, Bollywood actor Nandinii Sen urged her children to stick to their own values. “Children’s graph of success is dotted by the motivation that their parents provide. They can either sell them short or be the wind beneath their wings,” says Tara Alisha, daughter of former model Nandinii Sen, who was last seen as a married woman stuck in an abusive relationship in the recent Bhatt movie Love Games. “Most parents nag their children to conform, pursue a certain career, etc. My mother, on the other hand, has always encouraged me to stick to my beliefs. Especially in an industry that is synonymous with trying to change who you are, her convictions have given me the strength to be myself, take up experimental roles. I consider myself really lucky.”
A DAUGHTER TO DOTE ON
Nandinii and Tara Alisha share an unconditional love at many levels—as mother– daughter, friends, colleagues, women and roommates. “My daughter was born to teach me how to love,” says Nandinii. “I feel blessed to have her, which is why I named her Tara Alisha, meaning a star found by the Gods. It was a miracle when she was born.” As for supporting Tashaa’s choice of career, Nandini is clear. “I’m proud of her career choice, the films she does, the hard work she puts in and her sense of commitment to her work,” she says. “I will always respect and support her decisions.” Nandinii, who entered the entertainment industry at the age of 16 as model, having modelled for reputed brands like Bombay Dyeing, Pond’s, Lakmé and Asian Paints, teaches her two children to be strong and comfortable in their skin. “One needs to be quite strong in the film industry. It’s a tough world out there, where people will critique you, no matter what you do. But fame and success are passing; only inner peace and strength lasts forever,” she says.
THE MOTHER FIGURE
“My mum is the most important person for me, and everything that I do with her is a celebration—be it sipping tea, going out for a meal or watching television shows together,” says Tashaa. For Nandinii, despite everything else, being a mother has been the most satisfying aspect of her life. “I’ve a son and a daughter, and I’m their biggest fan,” she says, as the duo sign off.
-As told to Priya Chaphekar