Do you believe diamonds are a girl’s best friend?
I do. I love stones of any colour, emeralds in particular. The family business takes us to Bangkok often and we have jewellers from Burma coming down to show us Burmese rubies and sapphires some of which I keep for myself. Sapphire is my lucky stone.
Is there any one piece of jewellery you’ve had forever?
There is this pair of diamond chandwali earrings which I’ve had for the past nine years. I wear them with jeans, Indian clothes, anything. My friends must be thinking that Neelam has only this one pair of balis.
Which was the first piece you designed?
It was a bridal set — necklace, earrings, rings, bracelets. It was a big order, for a family friend, almost 13-14 years ago. I was terribly nervous. But the emerald-diamond combo worked out well.
What’s the current trend?
Solid, smaller pieces which cost more but are value for money. My present collection has a lot of rose-cut diamonds, rubies and emeralds, ideal for both large weddings and small dinner parties.
Personally, my tastes run to the classic and simple because that was what my parents always had an eye for. Even my clients from the royal families in the Middle-East are looking for something classic, colourful, with little Mughal touches.. high quality stuff.
What happened to your signature chandelier earrings?
(Laughs) They are passé. Now studs are in or slightly long pieces.
Some of your creations have been inspired by Victorian and Mughal heirlooms, is there any piece you have really coveted?
(Laughs) There was this one Patiala necklace.. lots of diamonds, three-four strands, and one huge centerpiece. I’ve only seen pictures of it but I wish I could wear it, just once.
Among your star clients who is really classy?
Gauri Khan, she’s stylish and never goes over-the-top. She can carry off her clothes and jewellery really well.
You remember that Shah Rukh Khan film you were in,
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, it has just completed 10 years..
Really? We had such a blast shooting it. And even though it was just a two-minute cameo I’m still remembered for it.
I’ve hosted several shows on TV after that..
Philips Top 10
Ooh La La
. Then I got fed up!
Never wanted to judge a dance reality show?
I wouldn’t mind but I’ve got just one offer, as a participant. The show has still not gone on air.
Ekta Kapoor is a friend. Watched any of her soaps?
She sent me DVDs of
and I was completely hooked. I used to sit up all night watching it. Finally, I had to beg her to stop sending me more because I wanted to get my life in order.
Ever wanted to feature in a soap?
No, TV is a full-time job. Even when I was doing movies I wanted my time off.
Miss the movies?
Yes sometimes when I hear how much actors are getting paid today. (Laughs) I listen to the figures and I see stars! Also, technically and script wise, our cinema has really progressed. The makers are young, educated and well travelled. I’m not complaining but I wish I were a part of the industry today.
Well, you could always make a comeback..
I get offers, not for the main lead but cameos. Nothing that would make me want to dump everything else and take it up. But never say never, may be some day..
Any recent film you’ve really enjoyed?
Taare Zameen Par..
and thoroughly enjoyed
Was there any role you could see yourself doing?
Which film brings back the fondest memories?
There is this one film they keep showing on TV,
Ek Ladka Ek Ladki
. People must be thinking I paid the channel to air it. I enjoyed shooting for that one with Salman (Khan).. and
Paap ki Duniya
Hum Saath Saath Hain
even though it got me into that controversy over the Jodhpur hunting trip.
The Barjatyas are such wonderful people.. simple, down-to-earth and god-fearing. I wish everyone were like them. I had retired when Sooraj came to me with that role. He had to do a lot of persuading but I finally had to give in. No one has been able to convince me since.
You’re designing bridal collections. Don’t you want to be a bride again?
Of course I do, as soon as I meet Mr Right. And I’m not asking for much, just a simple man who can keep me happy.