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The many lives of Vikram Chatwal

Being a playboy is an integral part of me, says this New York-based actor.
PTI | By Hindol Sengupta (IANS), New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 07, 2005 03:32 PM IST

Being a playboy, says New York-based business tycoon-actor Vikram Chatwal, is an integral part of him, as is getting married to an Indian woman, like his father always dreamt of.

"This whole playboy thing is, well, is always going to be me," Chatwal, wearing denims, T-shirt and black jacket, one of his legs in crutch, told IANS.

The Ethiopia-born, Wharton-educated, super successful hotelier - his father runs the famous Bombay Palace chain of hotels - hangs out with Bill Clinton and rap mogul Puff Daddy (aka P Diddy).

He has modelled for the Vogue, and everyone in Manhattan says he's either "very cool" or "very spiritual" or both.

"I cannot shed my part of life, it's all there. But engagement and marriage, it's all a part of the next phase," said Chatwal, who is getting engaged to Delhi based model Priya Sachdeva on January 9 in a secret location in the city.

"We, Priya and me, sort of found each other and really connected. It just seemed right," said Chatwal, who wears his long hair in an unruly bun and at 32 has been one of New York's most eligible bachelors for years.

In town also to promote his film as lead actor One Dollar Curry, Chatwal, who hurt himself during a photo shoot a few days ago, looks almost serene.

He talks softly, moves slowly and seems far removed from the wild reputation of the man who has dated, among others, Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen. He has a 'G' tattooed on his arm, under an elaborate tattoo of Guru Gobind Singh.

Everyone says, and knows, it's for Gisele. Sitting sipping beer at the French embassy, Chatwal, who was in Phuket in Thailand when the tsunami came, mischievously suggested that it's for the guru.

A still from One Dollar Curry

"Who do you think the G is for? Primarily for the guru," grinned the man whose ambition is to be the first Sikh billionaire, and whose family hobnobs with the Clintons.

But Chatwal said in spite of all the money and power, he had a lonely and sometimes traumatic childhood. "I had serious a identity crisis. Who was I? Indian? American? You know, money and power means nothing, sometimes there are issues that no money and power can sort."

Like the hate that followed 9/11 when Sikhs, with their turbans, were confused with the followers of Osama bin Laden and were targeted in race attacks.

His father, Sant Singh Chatwal, filled newspapers with ads explaining how the Sikhs had nothing to do with bin Laden. "Sometimes there are instances, when you suddenly feel very insecure."

But at other times, Vikram Chatwal is supremely happy. Like when flying with P Diddy on private jets, organizing dos or joking with the Clintons or spending time with Sachdeva.

In the future, is it going to be acting or business? "Both, I love both," said the man who played a bit role in Zoolander. "You see around 20 percent of me is always floating somewhere up there, so I can do anything."

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