Ayesha Takia means business
Ayesha Takia has triumphed over the cult of celebrity. The eager girl-next-door, at what could've been the height of her career, post her glam role in Wanted is now foraying into hospitality and fashion.entertainment Updated: Apr 15, 2010 17:07 IST
After getting married at 23 to long-time beau and South Bombay restauteur, Farhan Azmi, Takia took a break from cinema. As eager fans get ready to welcome back the young bride with her Friday release, Paathshaala, we caught up with her to find out about her new identity. There's hospitality and fashion in her kitty. Movies have taken a backseat for now, as she unwinds in the glow of the setting sun on the terrace of Farhan Azmi's Colaba lounge, Koyla.
Your movie Paathshaala is releasing this week. Is this your comeback?
I shot this movie much before I got married. It's a fantastic script made by my good friends, Ahmed and Shaira Khan. It's also a very relevant script because it touches topics like peer pressure and basic educational pressure. Kids today have unnecessary ambitions and are committing suicide due to reality shows. I did the movie because of these issues. But as far as my comeback is concerned, I never quit Bollywood in the first place!
But you disappeared at the height of your career after Wanted released?
You know lot of people told me that I was marrying Farhan at a bad time. Wanted was about to release and it did become the biggest hit of my career. But I am a person who follows her gut instinct. I just knew I was ready to marry Farhan and I knew it would change things. But I also didn't want to do the glam roles anymore. I took a break and it put things in order. Now I am open to doing only one or two meaningful movies a year.
Do you have any more movies lined up?
Well, I do have Aap Ke Liye Hai Hum, directed by Revathy with Jaya Bachchan. Unfortunately, it's stalled for the moment. But like I said, I'm open to meaningful cinema. I don't want to stand in the back of a scene and look pretty. I want to act.
Who are your role models?
My family. I am a complete family person. Farhan and my mother Farida, are just some of the people who have impacted my life in a major way. They are with me all the time and life without them is non-existent. I learn from people in my proximity. If I see someone who is emotional, I want to imbibe that. Because I have been criticised for being too practical and unemotional.
Movies aside, what else are you dabbling in?
I’m glad you asked. I am so happy I took this break from movies. Farhan and I are working on so many projects. We have become business partners and are currently designing this boutique hotel in Goa called Basilico House. We’re just taking the Basilico brand further. I have been involved in the designing of the hotel and I have all these ideas about the hospitality of the hotel. We are also setting up chic coffee shops across Mumbai called Chai Coffee and the first one will open up in Andheri in the next six months. I have been sitting in boardroom meetings and breaking my head over interiors and design decisions. It’s very exciting.
How did you get interested in business vis-à-vis something creative like acting?
I think actors should keep their minds vigilant and open all the time. You should use the opportunities from the name you’ve created to do many other things, besides acting. Heroes have a longer shelf life than actresses do. At the end of the day, actresses make less money and have a smaller share of the limelight. I always knew I wanted to do things other than acting. With Farhan, it just seemed natural.
How do you feel about the school of thought that post marriage, an actress doesn’t get work?
I think in this day and age, if someone thinks they can get away with this excuse, they are fooling themselves. Maybe choices get limited, but those limits are self-imposed. Personally, I discovered fashion and hospitality.
So is fashion also something on your mind?
Well, I am also doing this fashion line with my mother, Farida. I still don’t have a name for it. But I am willing to build a brand that will bring unique apparel and accessories to people. The idea is expression and novelty.
Do you feel you have transitioned from an actor to a businesswoman?
I think I am ready for the change. Ever since I was a little girl, all I have wanted to do was act. Movies happened and life was set. After I got married, my eyes opened and I found myself translating the same passion into the hotel line. I truly feel that I've grown up, which is why I want to do movies that I am aiming for.
Any unfulfilled dreams left?
I want to take brand Ayesha forward, and yes, the sky is the limit.
More on this tinsel town beauty
Basilico House, Goa: Ayesha Takia and Farhan Azmi’s upcoming hotel in Goa is called Basilico House. It’s an upmarket traveller’s hotel with a built-in clubhouse and amenities. The hotel is being developed on a 200-year-old Portuguese property and will cater to “professional travellers and lifestyle junkies,” as Ayesha describes. Each room will be styled with its own design and colour theme.
Chai Coffee: The Azmis are also opening upmarket cafes on the lines of urban coffee shops across the city. The first one is set to open in six months in Andheri. The USP will be indi-cool.
Fashion line: Like Beyonce, Takia and her mom are teaming up to start their very own fashion line. Though the actor doesn’t divulge the name, she plans to design a unique range of chic clothing and accessories for women in the age group of 16-35.
25-year-old Ayesha Takia is a self-confessed mommy’s girl. Her mother, Farida Takia, spends all her waking hours with her daughter. They claim to be best friends and Farida could easily qualify for the classic Bollywood mom.
“Ayesha is very attached to me, so everyday when Farhan leaves for work, I come and spend my time with her. It’s good to know that even after she got married, I’m needed,” Farida smiles. During the shoot at Koyla, Farhan’s swanky Colaba rooftop terrace, Farida smiled and spoke about her daughter. “She always knew she wanted to be an actor and all I did was push her. I am happy she’s come into her own. I have been at all her shoots and all her meetings,” says the former Bollywood mom. Ayesha adds, “I am totally spoilt. I am creating a fashion line with my mom. It will be interesting to see it grow.”
Little sister to take on Bollywood
Ayesha wants her 21-year-old sister to be welcomed like Kareena. You know what they say. When one Bollywood siren retires, another one replaces her. Ayesha's 21-year-old sister, Natasha, is all set to enter Bollywood next year. And Ayesha wants her younger sibling to be welcomed by the audience like Kareena Kapoor was.
"My sister Natasha, who is 21, will be in films next year. Hopefully, she'll be welcomed in the industry like other star sisters. I'm very excited for her. Let's hope her career works. She's preparing herself, working out ferociously. When I started out, I had no clue about these things. At least now when they know I'm her sister, they'll give her a chance," Ayesha hopes.
Audiences would now get to see more of Natasha and less of Ayesha, but she will be her guide throughout. "Like mom was there for us, I'd also like to be there for Natasha and help her discover her foothold in Bollywood. I really want her to be better than me," she hopes.Other biz-savvy actresses in B-town
Koena Mitra: The actress is in the process of opening a pet store in the city called Happy Pets. It will stock all kinds of pet food and accessories. She is in talks with three foreign pet accessory manufacturers to stock their stuff at her store.
Shilpa Shetty: Shetty has released a Yoga DVD and opened a spa with good friend, Kiran Bawa. She also bought stake in IPL with husband Raj Kundra, becoming co-owner of Rajasthan Royals.
Preity Zinta: Zinta was the only lass in the IPL auctions in its first year, when she and ex-beau Ness Wadia became co-owners of Kings XI Punjab team. She has entered her third year, armed with a degree in Sports Management from Harvard. She also plans to start a national basketball team for women.
Twinkle Khanna: Post her wedding to Akshay Kumar, Khanna took to interior design, opening her own interior design store across three locations in Mumbai called The White Window, in partnership with her long-time friend, Gurlein Manchanda. The store has received an Elle Decor International Design Award.
Bipasha Basu: Basu launched a fitness DVD. Also in the pipeline are a fitness clothing line and a signature prêt line
Neelam Kothari: The actress joined her family business and turned jewellery designer with a standalone store in Bandra.