Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Dheiraj Kapoor- Success runs through his veins

Dheiraj Kapoor! Let me guess, you probably thinking he is a member of the famous Kapoor family in Bollywood. Well he isn't. He started out his career in 1995 as a model with assignments like Honda Activa TVC, Byford t-shirts Campaign, Gurukul Campaign, BPL Campaign, and IBM computers Campaigns. He also acted in four English plays with internationally acclaimed theatre personality Mahesh Dattani and also acted in a Hindi play whilst doing his summer course at the National School of Drama. Having moved away from his family's well-established retail business, Dheiraj decided to pursue his career within the entertainment industry. Through his business and entrepreneurial skills, he has managed to execute and conceptualize hundreds of brand campaigns for leading international brands. It gives me an immense pleasure to interview a man of his stature and calibre, a successful entrepreneur and businessman who is certainly easy on the eyes. Read on to find out more in his own words.....

                                                       Photo credit Madhu S Dutta 

Drink you would order at a coffee shop: A healthy organic vegetable or fruit juice (I don’t drink neither coffee or tea or aerated drinks) Thus you will never find me in and around a coffee shop.

Favourite Indian cuisine: Butter Chicken, Butter Nun, Tandoori Chicken and Rajma Chawal
Favourite cologne: Tom Ford
Favourite holiday destination: Have many favourites as I have had the opportunity to travel extensively around the globe but amongst my recent favourites…it has to be Portugal

1. Firstly Dheiraj, thank you so much for taking time out to be interviewed by me on such short notice. Tell me a little more about your family background and life from childhood until present? Did you formally go to an acting school? Where did you study?

I am extremely grateful that you have thought about me for your blog. Thank you. I have a very blessed life thus far with the most beautiful parents who I could always count on and siblings who are by my side through every day of my existence.Originally a North Indian, I am born and brought up in Bangalore, therefore I have inculcated a fair mix of both North and South Indian cultural nuances in me - which has given me a cosmopolitan outlook therefore established a futuristic vision in self.
In Bangalore I have done theatre workshops with Mahesh Dattani, and followed it up with workshops in NSD New Delhi, LSDA London and New York, which has significantly enriched my experience in learning the art and craft of acting.

2.Did you always wish to be a part of the entertainment industry? Was your family supportive of you in terms of your career choices?

Certainly! It's has been my childhood dream to be a part of the celluloid world - pursuing my passion in this beautiful and fulfilling art form called 'acting' Since my childhood I was always keen in participating in dramatics, acting, fancy dress and dancing competitions. This resulted in developing my passionate interest for the world of cinema.
My family and friends have been extremely supportive, in fact they have been living my dreams, cherishing and nurturing them every moment.

3. Tell me a little bit about your modelling career. How did you enter the acting industry?

I have done modelling in the early stages of my career across different product categories like automobiles, fashion apparel, technical gadgets etc. Thus I had realized my intrinsic love to being in front of the lens.
My vision that being a model, one must possess the skills of acting, know how to be able to pose the right body language and strike the expression.
I enjoyed modelling and acting was a natural progression when I got the offer to work in films...I love the camera! Therefore doesn't matter whether it's modelling or acting - it’s all about a seamless visual narrative which being the protagonist I need to bring on board. And that's exactly what my endeavour has been thus far!

4. How do you balance your personal life and your career?

Respect both ends of the spectrum - and do my best to live up to my professional and personal commitments - because both bring to me an immense sense of gratification.
Therefore I take special efforts to keep the fun in both the world alive!

5. I am totally blown over at the fact that you have been involved in so many brand campaigns for huge companies involving Bollywood A listers. Elaborate further about your career as a brand marketer. What does it entail and how does one get to the top in such a competitive market?

I enjoy my role as a Brand Marketer – for me it doesn’t matter whom I am catering to. All that drives my passion is the core of the idea, the implementation of the marketing plan and the overall success of the brand initiative. What brings immense joy and a huge sense of gratification is when my Clients considers me as an extended part of his team who adds value to his business.
Maintaining a strong database and networking of industry specific sponsors for events and building and nurturing relations with strategic leadership and artist’s/celebrities representatives.
To keep to the top, having an excellent network with the right resources in the Corporate and Bollywood industry is essential.

6. I have heard through the grape vine that many actors and actresses are cast in movies or serials through couch casting. Do you think that this kind of practice is occurring within the industry?

I have never gotten myself into such situations in my career, therefore it is unfair for me to make a statement.

7.What has been your most memorable experience in your life thus far?

For me living everyday is an experience… and it’s my endeavor to make it memorable

8. If you could be granted one wish and have any skill or talent in the world, what would it be?

To be bestowed with a skill to bring a warm smile to every individual with simple joys of life.

9. Who or what inspires you?

Life, nature and people around inspire me most. A constant source of energy, which imbibes a sense of positive vibe!

10. What are your favourite websites?

Google. It breaks all boundaries makes me connect all around the globe with people and information.

11. Do you follow a strict eating plan or are you a gym fanatic? Is it necessary to be physically fit if you are part of the movie industry?

I am a firm believer in being physically fit not only body but mind and soul as well; from an early age I have been actively involved in multiple sports and then eventually started my gyming regime. But to adhere to a more holistic physical fitness, I have gotten into yoga. The passion for yoga and benefits I derive from it lead me into taking the next step – acquiring myself a international certification to teach.
Diet is the most misunderstood concept when it comes to fitness. It is very important to understand the need for your body and have a balanced diet plan keeping in mind long-term goals for a healthy living. I am definitely not a fan of haphazard diets, which can hamper your health in the long run.
Yes it is necessary to keep oneself fit and maintain required body statistics according to the character one is playing.

12. Who is your favourite actor, actress and singer in Bollywood? What qualities do they have that make them special to you?

Actors: Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, Guru Dutt & Amitabh Bachchan.
Actress: Late Smita Patil, Nargis, Sharmila Tagore, Rekha, Madhubala & Waheda Rehman.
Each had their own distinctive persona as well as individual and unique method of acting.

Singers: Music is the core essence of every movie - my favourites artists are Lata
Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh, Mohammed Rafi, Nursat Fateh Ali Khan etc. These are the singers who touched my soul every time I listen to their creation.

13. In your opinion, what qualities does a person require in order to be a part of the entertainment industry?

Entertainment world has a sense of mystery, a feel of enigma! As a star who is part of this world of celluloid, the most important quality one needs to hold on to is humility, practicality and never shy away from the reality.

14. Define success. What does success mean to you?

Success to me is an amalgamation of humility, persistence and a mind-set to constantly evolve as an individual.

15. Give me your opinion about plastic surgery? Many models win beauty pageants and then head straight into Bollywood. Most of them undergo drastic plastic surgery as well as skin lightening treatments in order to conform to a certain look. What is your opinion about actors and actresses becoming successful after they have undergone cosmetic surgery?

I am of the opinion that since I haven’t gone through this process myself, so i would not be the correct person to comment on this.

16. Where do you see yourself five years from now? What are your plans for the future?

My mantra in life is to take each day at a time - keep working with all the right intention and let the supreme power take care of you. I am a true believer of “The Law of Karma”.
I want to continue in acting and look at taking up varied roles - which can constantly fulfill my urge and hunger to a performance oriented role, bring out my individual strengths define a sharp differentiator for the artist in me.

17. Fame can do strange things to people. How do you cope with fame and the fact that people easily recognize you wherever you go.?

Staying grounded and constantly nurturing the sense of humility is the key to being real to life and people around.

18. What advice do you have for young aspiring actors out there?

My one humble advice to every individual who aspires to be an actor is never stop dreaming, never stop learning and never forget people who stood by you when you were not a's their wish and love that has been a catalyst to your success story as well.

19. Are there any additional comments you’d like to add for the blog readers?

Thank you so much for this interview and I wish this article brings in love and light amongst
the blog readers worldwide. Happy Reading

20. One last final question. You mentioned to me that you have visited South Africa many times. What has been your opinion of the country? Do you think that more Bollywood films should be shot here in SA?

Howzit !!! This was the first introduction to your beautiful country. Friendly people with a warm heart and hospitality totally made me feel at ease. South Africa is a very beautiful country with a multi-ethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. Have traveled the length and breadth of the country and enjoyed the scenic beauty immensely.
Yes of course there is so much more to explore, given the diverse landscape and beauty of nature complementing every part of the country, South Africa definitely becomes a favourable destination to shoot films & campaigns. I always look forward to coming back… hopefully this time with my film.

Dear Sumayya Mehtar,
Last but not the least I am grateful and would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this amazing article.


                                                         Photo credit Madhu S Dutta 

                           Watch out for Dheiraj Kapoors movie ANONA releasing next year

Photo credit: Natraaj Maharshi

"Every drop is so pure like nectar for the skin that caresses right through the veins that touch the soul awakening the innocence of a child. That is the magic that dwells within the power of nature, its gift, given with the warmth and love like of a mother. This is ANONA... goddess that dwells everywhere. She is within us and around us. "

To find out more about this exceptionally humble and down to earth actor and entrepreneur, check out his facebook page and website

Friday, September 16, 2016

Be yourself and you will increase in beauty

I was browsing through the Internet this afternoon and I came across an article that stated that the public were up in arms over Alicia Keys appearing at a music video awards without any make up. I thought to myself gosh, people are dying in some parts of the world; there are more pressing issues that need to be addressed apart from taking away a woman's right to choose how she wants to dress or look. The media and the fashion industry have dictated and literally forced women to dress in a certain way in order to be accepted in society. Women need to be a certain weight or a have a certain height or complexion in order to be considered beautiful. The sad reality is that from a statistical point of view a more attractive looking female is more successful in life as opposed to a woman who is not outwardly beautiful. This mentality needs to change as it is being instilled in our youth and kids from a very young age. I have come across young women who have psychological issues simply because they are being mocked at by their peers or school mates for not being attractive enough. I have had my fair share of verbal remarks as a child for not being fair enough as my brother. I am also a wee bit overweight due to my thyroid issue. But do I care about what other people think about me... hell no. I'm quite comfortable in my own skin. We need to teach young women that true beauty is not about outer appearance. As clich├ęd as it sounds, it is all about what lies within. When a person has a beautiful soul, a kind heart with pure intentions, that inner beauty transcends outwardly naturally. I know of many young women who are slightly overweight due to illnesses or they have a skin problem due to hormonal issues. Instead of society supporting these teenagers, these young women are being looked down upon for not looking like a girl on a magazine cover who by the way is probably really unattractive in real life but due to photoshop, make up and airbrushing techniques, she looks absolutely sexy. There are teenagers out there who have major skin problems but because they hail from poor families they are unable to afford the necessary treatment. Thus, they continue life with a lowered self esteem. We have created this false, distorted concept of beauty. In the Indian community this horrific perception is taken one step further when a girl is told that if she is not beautiful or fair skinned, she will not find a husband. What utter rubbish. Never mind the guy is no James Bond or Hrithik Roshan, but the girl must be tall, fair skinned with long hair etc etc etc.1400 years ago a wise, humble and knowledgeable man,Muhammed ibn Abdullah (pbuh) liberated mankind from such ideologies. Sadly 1400 years later we seem to have regressed rather than progressed!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Wife to a controlling husband

                                            Image result for controlling husband

                                                                         Picture taken from

During the week I met a woman who came to the pharmacy for medication related to mental health. 
As we started chatting, she simply broke down in tears. Her life story shadows the lives of many women
out there going through the very same trials and tribulations of life. They simply continue living in silence. 
Like all young women, she envisaged to meet her prince charming, get married and then live happily ever
after. However, what started out as a fairy tale has now turned into a nightmare. My patient was apparently
a young,vibrant and ambitious woman but after getting married she has become a subject of abuse through
her husband’s controlling and dominant character. Prior to marriage she was a modern woman always
looking out for trendy fashion and accessories. She excelled in her career and always wanted to be at the
top.She was under the impression that her husband would accept her the way she is. That was of course
wishful thinking.

Whilst she is a devout Muslim woman who left her home dressed decently, she did not adorn the head
scarf. A year after marriage, her husband forced her to cover her hair. She obliged thinking that in a way she
is pleasing him. A few months later, he forced her to only wear the abaya when leaving the home. He
threatened to divorce her if she did not obey. She had no objection wearing normal clothing with a head
scarf. But he insisted on her wearing abayas only. Slowly but surely, her hubby was starting to control every
aspect of her life. She has lost her sense of autonomy and individuality. She is unable to make any decision
on her own. From a high flying career woman she has now been reduced into a housewife with no drive or
ambition. Her own dreams and goals have been dashed. Her life only revolves around her husband and kids.
This is eating her away internally. If she tries to voice her opinion, she is threatened with divorce. His latest
ultimatum is forcing his wife to adorn a full niqaab or face veil. My personal advice to this woman was to get
out of the relationship if she is unhappy and move on with her life. No one has a right to force anyone to do
anything when it comes to religion. You can advice but not force. Religion is purely a sacred relationship 
between you and your Lord. Guidance comes from God Almighty and He chooses whom he wishes to guide.
Wearing a particular dress code does not qualify you to be a good human being. I don’t even get the logic
of adorning an abaya. The abaya has suddenly become a symbol of a Muslim women’s dress code  and 
yet Arabs themselves will tell you that the abaya is foreign to the Arabian Peninsula. It was introduced as
a dress code after the Al Saud family took over leadership around the 1930’s. Prior to this, Arab women
adorned beautiful kaftans and jilbaabs embellished with heavy embroidery and beading. Many of these
garments can be viewed at the various museums within the Kingdom. 

Almost every tradition in the Arab world has a legend behind it, and pieces of clothing are no exception

according to Rym Tina Ghazal, an award winning journalist. “It is said that sometime in the eighth century 
of the Abbasid Islamic period, a merchant selling cloaks ran out of all the colourful ones and was left with
only black ones that no one wanted.He visited a poet friend of his over his plight and asked him for help.
The poet then composed a  poem praising the beauty of a woman cloaked in black garment, a color he 
hailed as one worn by the rich and noble.And ever since then, women flocked to buy the black ones as they
all wanted to be “sensuous and beautiful.”That is one legend behind the black cloak or “abaya” worn by 
women in the Arab world.

Marriage should be a partnership between two people. It should never be about control or making your 

partners life a misery. Many women waste away their lives staying in such relationships for the sake of the
kids. What for?  If you not happy, I say move on. We all have only one shot at life and we all deserve to be 
happy inwardly and outwardly. Why is it that when a man marries a woman, she is expected to suddenly
miraculously change overnight and fit into his family’s way of life. I know of situations where women are
literally given a list of dos and donts after marriage. This is absolute rubbish in my opinion. You are marrying
someone to be their life partner. You are not marrying a puppet that you can control or dominate. Accept you
wife the way she is and your relationship will  blossom. As the Arabic saying goes, “Kun anta tazdad
jamaalah”. Be yourself and you will increase in beauty.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A band like no other - SANAM rocked Johannesburg

They came. they saw, they conquered!

I must admit whilst driving with my parents to Emperors Palace on Sunday evening for the SANAM concert, I asked myself will the concert meet the expectations of the public and will it be a sold out show. I have watched every SANAM you tube video and I was very impressed with their singing style ever since they hit the music scene a few years ago. Since their first video, I became an ardent fan.  South African audiences though are immune to concerts where artists belt old golden oldies. Newer songs don’t really go down well with the older generation. I wasn’t quite sure if a young boy band would actually appeal to all audiences across the board from the young to the elderly. The show definitely surpassed my expectations totally. I was totally blown away and mesmerized by the sheer versatility and energy of the artists. There was a song for everyone. The younger generation stamped their feet to the new SANAM original songs whilst the elderly enjoyed the golden oldies singing in unison with the incredibly handsome Sanam Puri who is the lead vocalist of the band.
Whilst the God of music, Sonu Nigam cannot be compared to this young boy band due to differences in their musical journey, I seen a lot of Sonu Nigam inside Sanam Puri. He reminded me a lot of a young Sonu Nigam who performed on South African soil for the very first time almost 20 years ago. He exuded the same level of confidence on stage. The audience were enthralled with his warm smile and his eyes that spoke a thousand words.  The show kicked off on a high note with the band singing a few of their original songs. This was followed by an array of golden oldies. No concert can be complete without a few fast paced Bhangra songs that undoubtedly got the audience on their feet. “Joanna give me hope” was one of the songs that got the audience screaming for more. Venky S, Samar Puri and Keshav Dhanraj left me speechless at their musical ability. They played for almost 4 hours effortlessly. As a side thought, Venky S has a beautiful voice and was the support vocalist to Sanam Puri. It is quite evident that the band members are very close to each other as their on stage chemistry was phenomenal.  

As a person who loves observing human behaviour, it was fun watching the audience reacting to the music in different ways. The gentleman in front of me was so drawn into the golden oldie songs that he seemed to be in a trance like state.  I guess the songs brought back sweet memories or it reminded him of a bygone era. Mom couldn’t control herself when they sang her favourite song of all time, Dhama dam mastakalander. As a child, mom use to love singing and this is one song she use to sing all the time with the qawwali actions and all. As for the two gentlemen sitting next to me, they were in a frozen like state and showed no emotion at all, even though everyone were on the edge of their seats whilst the band sang foot tapping bhangra numbers.  In every audience there must be people who are uncouth and uncivilized. I was quite miffed at the hooligan behaviour displayed by the group of middle aged men and women who were sitting behind me. They were sitting on VIP seats but behaved as though they hailed from the streets shouting out rude profanities. There were a few other VIP’s in our row who were quite annoyed with their obscene, trashy behaviour. I guess money can buy you things but it certainly cannot buy you class and elegance. Well done to the band for dealing with the audience in a very graceful and respectful manner. Credit needs to be given to the bands manager, Mr. Ben Kurian Thomas and his entire team for their hard work, effort and dedication in terms of moulding these young artists into power packed internationally acclaimed stars in the future. A big thank you to the event organizers and sponsors for a well put together event!

After the concert my parents and I were afforded the opportunity to meet SANAM, thanks to the bands manager Mr. Ben Kurian Thomas. It was an absolute pleasure meeting Mr. Abhijit Choudhary as well from AIM events!

Dear Ben sir,

Words cannot express my gratitude as well as admiration that I have for you as a person. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to say bahot bahot shukriya for making my parents and I so very happy last night. Thank you so much for honouring and respecting my parents always. I can't tell you how happy mom and dad were to see you again after many years. 
Mom and dad have always told me what a humble, simple and down to earth person you are. After meeting you last night I must acknowledge that there is truth in their words. People like you are a huge inspiration to me. It is this quality within you that has undoubtedly taken you places in life. Good things happen to good people and thus last night SANAM rocked Johannesburg for sure with your support, hard work, dedication and team effort. I am indeed honoured and humbled to be associated with a person of your calibre. Keep up the good work and you should be very proud of yourself, the band and the rest of the team. It is just a pity that you came to SA on a very short work related trip. I do however, request you to stay longer the next time you visit South Africa so that my family and I can extend an invitation for you to be our guest. Please travel safely.Lots of love and regards to SANAM (all band members). Allah hafiz.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Let's embrace rather than disgrace

17 August 2016

So last night I bid my Saudi family farewell. In an hour or two they should be home in Jeddah God willing. They left our home happy and elated at the fact that they were afforded a taste of South African hospitality, yet internally they were emotional, almost in tears. Residing in the Kingdom allowed me to forge priceless relationships and form bonds with people that are much stronger than blood relations. I have been blessed to be a part of the lives of many families who have taken me as their own. I have an adopted family in Malawi, Saudi as well as in Kashmir. When the problems started in Kashmir a few weeks ago, I tried repeatedly to call "papa". His mobile was switched off. I tried and tried but to no avail. I prayed for his safety and wished his family well. Days went by and none of my messages were received either. However, during the early parts of this morning, my phone beeped. In our house it’s pretty normal for the phone to ring after midnight as many of our friends call us at that time of the morning due to the time differences between countries. I was exhausted after a fairly long day but my face beamed bright at receiving his message. He mentioned to me that he is safe and sound now that he has returned to Delhi. My Kashmiri dad resides in Delhi but his extended family reside in the heart of Kashmir. His messages were worrying filled with distress at the current situation in Kashmir. He stated that the aggression enforced by the Indian army against innocent civilians is totally unacceptable and that the media is failing to show this aggression to the world. The people of Kashmir desire to have their own freedom and independence. They do not wish to be a part of India nor Pakistan. The ongoing war and violence in Kashmir is a direct result of the British colonialist’s strategy of divide and rule. They have used this tactic throughout the world to cause anarchy and strife between nations. “Papa” further mentioned that thus far almost 70 people have been killed. With strict curfews in place there were situations where families risked their own lives in order to bury their loved ones residing in another area. With a heavy military presence, movement becomes restricted and fear sets in. My family and I were planning to visit my Kashmiri family in October this year. My Kashmiri dad has asked me to cancel my trip immediately for safety reasons. May God Almighty protect my Kashmiri family and all other families residing in war torn areas from oppression. The one thing I’ve learned having close associations with various cultures is that at the end of it all, we are all simply human beings going through the same trials and tribulations of life. We all have goals and dreams. We all work hard for our families. Hence, it irks me to the core when people generalize and speak ill about an entire nation as a whole. When I decided to move to Saudi Arabia for a brief period of time, members of my own society tried dampening my spirits by stating that the Saudi society is cruel and evil. The Arabs are people of pride and arrogance and yet I know of people within my own society who are corrupt and who walk around with their noses in the air. In every society you get all kinds of people like a packet of liquorice all sorts. Whilst many people out there have spoken ill about Saudis or Arabs in general, I have only received and experienced unconditional love, care and support. Whilst vacationing with my Saudi family in Cape Town together, they made sure that mom cooked them a pot of traditional Indian Biryani and we of course part took in their traditional foods as well. It was quite fascinating to learn that my Saudi sister Deema never ever sat on a camel in her life despite residing in camel land. On the other hand she knew Cape Town inside out making me feel like a foreigner in my own country. The coming together of people and cultures is a beautiful experience and if we all strive to live our lives embracing each other’s cultures, traditions and religions, focusing on similarities rather than pointing out differences, the world will undoubtedly be a far better place to live in.