India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Verve Trendsetters
January 17, 2011

The Fresh List 2011

Photographs by Ritam Banerjee, Rahul Deep Balachandran, Tumpa Mondal, Amit Dey, Ankur Chaturvedi, Vinobha Nathan. Location Courtesy: Hotel Lalit, Mumbai

Verve celebrates the different hues of the new smart brigade. More power to their star shine.

Young and talented, they are on the brink of carving their niche in their chosen domain – be it art, theatre, films, music, ads, business, sports or fashion. Continuing in our vein of spotlighting new Gen-Next interpreters of taste and culture, we present an eclectic bunch of diverse, focussed minds, who know what they want, are on the road to achieving their goals and are unabashedly enjoying what they do.

It was an interesting experience running through a gamut of names, shortlisting those who would make our cut and getting them together. The Verve outdoor group shot at the hotel in suburban Mumbai, comprising those who could make our deadline, was invigorating. Their joie de vivre and energy reflected the vibrant hues of nature that framed the image. Styled in a synergised palette of blue, grey and white, they chatted their way through make-up, bonded over each shot and gave their best pose, even as a sudden wind threatened to swirl dust across the ‘greenscape’. In a similar vein, the out-of-towners were captured – never mind the city, their mood was upbeat, forward looking and bright.

Verve celebrates the different hues of the new smart brigade. More power to their star shine.

Angela Jonsson
Model, 20

Hometown: Mumbai/Kodaikanal.

So far: Winning the Kingfisher Calendar Hunt.

Family background: My mum is from Mumbai and my dad is from Iceland. I was born in Chennai. My family moved to an estate up in the mountains of Kodaikanal when I was four. I studied in the American School and spent my free time outdoors.

Growing up: I come from a big family of 10 – seven girls and three boys – so there was never a quiet moment in our house.

First shoots: My first few shoots in Bengaluru were commercial and therefore pretty easy.  When it came to the Kingfisher Hunt and the tasks we performed there, it got tougher.

Facing the camera: The first few times I did feel kind of awkward and wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. Now, I’ve begun to warm up to the camera and have really started to love it.

Modelling idols: Kate Moss and Catherine McNeil.

Eat and work out or starve and laze? Neither. I’m lucky to be able to eat whatever I want without the worry of losing my figure.

Three staples in your wardrobe: LBD, a great pair of jeans, summer dresses.

You wouldn’t be caught dead wearing:  Tacky slogan T-shirts and Crocs.

Sexy or sensuous? I’m not an over-the-top person and believe that less is more. I’d say more sensuous then sexy.

Karan Pandit
Actor, 20

Hometown: Mumbai.

So far: A one-year course in performance studies at the Drama Centre, London. Plays like All About My Mother, Lovepuke and Second Hand Emotions in Mumbai.

On stage for the first time: I was opening this improvisational act with some stand-up comedy. I was 17 and extremely nervous in the wings. I wasn’t particularly in a funny mood, but I guess there’s something about a live audience which just changes everything for me. I remember stepping on stage, seeing the audience and it was just a different ‘me’ on stage.

The beginning: A play in junior college in St Xavier’s, Mumbai. We have an annual theatre festival called ‘Ithaka’ at which I acted in a play.

Myths about theatre:  That you get to rehearse on stage before a show.

Upcoming projects: Two ongoing plays and a new one, The Interview, which we just opened at the National Centre for Performing Arts festival. We have many shows of that coming up in January 2011.

Life in Mumbai: I love the movement of Mumbai; I guess I’m just so used to it, that a slow place wouldn’t keep me.

An actor’s inspiration: The smallest things could inspire a man. The biggest drive for me is just pure ‘play’, the fun of story-telling.

A play you’ve always wanted to stage: Hamlet.

Acting lessons: Actors are always learning.

A dream role in any movie: I love characters like Micheal Corleone from The Godfather, Tony Montana from Scarface, Stanley from A Streetcar Named Desire, The Joker from Batman – all the ultimate clichéd bad guys. The Mafia (in any part of the world) has always excited me.

Songs on your iPod: I have everything from the Beatles to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, to psychedelic, to hip hop to funk. Personally, I’m a rock guy and love bands like Red Hot Chilli Peppers, the Doors, Floyd.

Best piece of criticism so far: You’re a fool. You come here to play. There’s a reason they call it a ‘play’; you’ve got to play jackass.

Next on the cards:  My new play, ironically titled The Interview.

One thing to look forward to in 2011: I hope there’s more than just ‘one’ thing.

Amrita Puri
Actor, 26

Hometown: Mumbai.

Accomplishments: Aisha, the movie, and my theatre work.

Curtain call: I loved theatre. During my first year at St. Xavier’s College, I started acting in plays with Quasar Padamsee.

If not an actor: A writer.

A day in your life: Gym or Pilates, rehearsal if I am doing a play, audition or a meeting and shooting on and off. I end the day with meeting people and chilling out.

One thing you want to change about Bollywood: The rule of star kids.

Inspiration: Naseeruddin Shah.

Ranbir Kapoor or Imran Khan? Ranbir Kapoor.

Favourite film character: Holly Golightly from Breakfast At Tiffany’s and the funny guy from Hangover.

You won’t be caught dead wearing: A catsuit.

Current fashion obsessions: High-waist trousers.

A role you adore: Langda Tyagi (played by Saif Ali Khan) in Omkara.

A role you wish you’d played: Stella from A Streetcar Named Desire.

Next on the cards: A play called The Interview.

Paromita Banerjee
Fashion Designer, 27

Hometown: Kolkata.

So far: I graduated in textiles from National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad. I decided to start off on my own. The craft projects I worked on – in and around India – made me more rooted to the craft/culture/archive options available, which went into my design vocabulary. My first professional runway show was at Lakmé Fashion Week, Gen-Next March 2009, and I’ve been consecutively showcasing with them ever since. In October 2010, I was the sole designer selected to represent India at the Shanghai chapter of the World Fashion Organisation, under the UN.

Fabindia or Anokhi? It’s like asking, do you like your mom better or dad! I adore them both – Fabindia and Anokhi, I mean.

Sabya or Anamika? Anamika.

Ethno-earthy or ethno-grunge? Ethno-earthy. Grunge can sometimes lean towards trashy.

Eco or conscientious? Conscientious.

Current season or advance showcase? Advance season. It gives me a high to predict, for people to follow.

Local language or glocal language? Glocal, certainly, but starting locally.

Anticipating a post-recession boom? Recession somehow didn’t have any effect on me and my brand, hence I don’t know.

A face for your brand could be: Konkona Sen Sharma or Aparna Sen or Sharmila Basu Thakur.

Style – Sonam Kapoor or Kangna Ranaut? Sonam Kapoor.

Trade fairs or fair trade? Fair trade. It gives dignity to the entire cycle of trading.

Fashion – a job or a lifestyle? A lifestyle. I’ve always hated nine-to-fives!

Design: what is your art to function ratio? More of a function to art ratio for me. Even for my shows, each ramp collection has always been about functionality, about translating the runway to the streets. ‘Art’ is what I perceive in them, though sometimes the essence of a collection stems from art and what I know of it.

Deepika Kumari
Archer, 17

Hometown: Ranchi.

So far: Won the gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the women’s individual recurve event; another CWG gold in the women’s team event; won the 11th Youth World Archery Championship held in Ogden, USA; silver medal in the fourth round of the World Cup Archery Competition in Shanghai.

Getting into archery: As a child I used to target mangoes on trees by throwing stones at them. I rarely missed the mark.

Initial training: My cousin sister convinced me that I was talented and I enrolled at the Arjun Archery Academy. I later joined the Tata Archery Academy.

Early days: A strict regimen – one had to stand for long hours while practising archery at the academy centre.

The bonus: I enjoyed archery, so at the end of the day I didn’t really mind the hard work. Also, at the academy I meet and learn from so many people! The recognition and medals that followed made the whole journey totally worth all the effort.

On a lazy Sunday: Lazy? In the academy, Sundays are the days when one must finish all other chores. So, I generally clean my room, do my weekly shopping and, if time and my coach permit, watch a movie.

Biggest competitions: Korea and China.

Hobbies: Watching Bollywood masala movies.

Last movie seen: I saw Golmaal 3 and loved it.

In 2011: Practice and more practice for the London Olympics, 2012.

Neha Kirpal
Organiser, India Art Summit, 30

Hometown: Delhi.

Background: Bachelors in Political Science from Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi and then Masters from the University of Arts London, studying marketing for creative industries. Started working on corporate marketing, building events and PR campaigns and now, I am closer to my passion – I really enjoy arts and creativity in any form. It’s where I belong.

The feeling of seeing India Art Summit grow: Over the moon! Gratifying beyond words. There is so much more coming.

Three favourite artists: Not just three. Bala, Hiroshi Senju, Neelima Sheikh, Ran Hwang, S.H.Raza, Nalini Malani…there are so many.

Artistic quest: Am on my way.

Art heroes: Still looking.

Vincent Van Gogh or MF Husain: MF Husain.

A day in your life: Lazy mornings, stimulating days buzzing with creative ideas and interesting conversation — a manic pace – quieter evenings and my beauty sleep.

Dinner and wine or party till dawn? Dinner, ambient lighting – soft music and a smooth Chilean white.

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

On life in Delhi: Work, family and friends – my small Dilli world — love it! It’ll always be home.

Inspired by: ‘Most things are possible’.

One thing that makes you cry? Lonely old people.

Three things you would like to take on a lonely isle? A chopper, a satellite phone and a plan to come back!  Wouldn’t survive a day.

Favourite perfume: Romance by Ralph Lauren.

One thing you want to change about the art industry: Transparency.

Recent obsessions: My iPad. It’s always within 10 inches of me!

On the art scene in India: It’s yet to happen, and when it does, it’ll really be something else!

Design school or real world? Day dreaming in the real world

Currently reading: Our art fair catalogue actually (final edits).

Upcoming projects: I do one thing at a time!

One thing to look forward to in 2011: Change.

Rajat Barmecha
Actor, 21

Hometown: New Delhi.

So far: Blessed. Most known project, Udaan.

Idols: I don’t idolise anyone.

Myths of the film world: That everyone is bad.

Dinner and wine or party till dawn: Dinner and wine (mostly).

Upcoming projects: Three short films (Gulmohar, Pyaar Mein Gochi and one is untitled).

An actor’s inspiration: Everyone has his own, but for me, it’s my own self!

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook.

What makes you laugh? Movies like Andaz Apna Apna.

What makes you cry? Tears in the eyes of my loved ones.

If not an actor: Still an actor.

You in three words: Positive, ambitious and fun loving.

A dream role from a movie: Aamir Khan’s or Saif Ali Khan’s in Dil Chahta Hai.

Favourite filmi character: Crime master Gogo (Andaz Apna Apna).

At Halloween you’d dress as: Superman.

On your iPod: Aashayein (Iqbal), Bhor (Indian Ocean) and, of course, Udaan.

Support system: My mother.

When not acting: Am watching movies.

Best piece of criticism so far: You are too impatient to think of the bigger picture.

One thing to look forward to in 2011: Vicky and Ritu (my sibling’s) debut.

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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