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May 15, 2012

In A Serene Space

Text by Malvika Sah. Photograph by Kunal Heble.

Model, actor and now an entrepreneur, Dipannita Sharma gets chatty with Verve about being a small town girl who made it big, clearly on her own terms

As I fumble for my phone torch in the dark corridor, it takes a split second for my Assamese colleague to recognise the correct apartment. The Jhappi or colourful cane hat, hung outside the door is the clue, she points out nonchalantly. The spacious apartment inside has more such local delights.

Model, actor and now entrepreneur, Dipannita Sharma’s light eyes, flawless skin and naturally thin frame aren’t the only aspects that hint at her hilly lineage; her heart is still clearly in the mountains. “You can take the person out of Assam, but you can’t take Assam out of the person because attitude comes from there,” she says as we curiously check out the various knick-knacks in her home.

Sumptuously done up in wood, the apartment follows a minimalistic theme with an occasional dash of colourful walls and embroidered cushions. The huge Ganesha in the corner is an unexpected sight but adds a spiritual aura to the room. “When I walked into this house for the first time, there was a sweet South Indian family living here with their two kids and they reminded me of my family back in Assam, as we were then. It gave this house an immediate feel-good factor and I knew instantly I had to buy this place,” she recounts. After she moved in, ideas kept filtering in on how and what changes she wanted in her home. While the sleeper wood door completed her ‘castle fantasy’, the vibrant antique lamps acquired from a quiet hamlet during a road trip to North India add a touch of Bohemian to the space. Abstract paintings and sketches picked up from the streets of Rome give an edgy character to the living area, her favourite space in the whole house.

In Mumbai for more than a decade now, and modelling for the better part of it, Sharma chanced upon the glamour world during her university days in Delhi. A natural stunner, she won a couple of competitions in college fests that finally got this history graduate packing from the capital to the city of dreams. “Even though I was living in Guwahati, it is still not like the metros. All kinds of surprises overwhelmed me when I first came to the big city.”

She remains in touch with most people from her ‘struggling days’ and loves hosting her special gang of girls in this pad. “Talking about those days in terms of competition, I think it’s how you look at things and how you perceive things. There is work for everyone and if you know your plus points you’re going to work on that and do your best. In fact, it is nicer when I sit back and say I have friends – it’s amazing. Nethra Raghuraman, Nina Manuel and Fleur Xavier are really close to me. We have always kept in touch and we catch up very often. Even if we are travelling, we are skyping. I’d hate it if I didn’t have these friends. They’ve been such a huge part of my support system.”

Her chance entry into films and the varied genres of roles she has accepted echo her naturally calm nature. From an action-packed December 16 to the thriller Asambhav to the recent Ladies Vs Ricky Behl and Jodi Breakers, Sharma clearly knows what she is doing. “I choose the best from my platter and out of that if I don’t like anything, I just don’t do it. I have never and still don’t stress out about work. I think it’s just the way I’ve been, chilled out, well, I think lazy would be a more apt word, true to Assam,” she jokes.

Her marriage to businessman Dilsher Singh Atwal in 2008 was also an impulsive yet predestined plan. “When we decided to get married, it was pretty sudden, everyone was like, how long do you know him and I’m like I know him for a year. But somehow I have believed that if you want a marriage then I don’t see the point of prolonging a relationship for years.”

Married for five years now, the happy couple enjoys watching movies when they aren’t cruising along sunny beaches around the world. And, it was during one such holiday that they decided to launch their yacht company in India. “It’s a joint thing with my husband because I’m not an entrepreneur by blood, it is something that someone needs to push me to do but my interest levels in it have grown over time. We love cruises and the whole boat experience so we thought of bringing it to the people in Mumbai.”

The only paradigm yacht in the country, it is called Shazma – a 70-foot-long handicraft masterpiece that is made of Burma teakwood, carved and designed in the traditional Arabic way. It can carry 75 people on board besides the crew and the servers. “It means celebration in Arabic – an apt name for this traditional single mast Arabian sailing dhow which is perfect for revelry of any kind,” Sharma beams.

Not one to take anything lightly, not even her stardom, Sharma is taking no chances and is concentrating on the venture completely for now. “Just because you give your first autograph does not mean that you have arrived, you earn your place in what you do over years of hard work. There has to be a reality check all the time, it’s very important to me. I think that is probably something that I have inherited from my background, from where I come.”

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