Not sure if my parents were particularly kicked about the fact that when I came out of the womb, I clung on to my beautiful nurse so tight that I refused to let any male doctor do as much as hold me. A pattern, which since that fateful day kept repeating itself until my parents, to their relief, realized it was nothing more serious than my natural affinity to all things ‘pink’ and colourful, a fascination that brought my middle class family some economic cheer. I would refuse to wear anything considered a ‘male’ colour in the societal sense like blue, black or something more macho, and would end up reusing my sister’s old clothes, including her bright pink and shocking red frock, which was my absolute favourite as a three year old.
Being born with sea green eyes, blonde hair and a skin tone which didn’t make me an ideal candidate for Fair & Handsome creams, since I was fair, nearly white by birth, at the risk of making a racist statement (a product which I am guilty of endorsing as a professional model later and promise to NEVER do again) but it did give me a green-tinted view of the world in some abstract sense. I grew up loving nature and all things ‘green’, like spinach, grapes, forests, trees, green tea and the HULK.
My next vivid memory of growing up has to be my fascination with crayons, colour pencils and watercolours. I recall finding such pure joy in being able to discover my own new shade by mixing two different colour palettes. I still believe that the mellow-fluorescent-fuchsia pinkish-lilac shade that I chanced upon on a random day of experimenting with colours is a shade which no other artisan in history has been able to replicate. It made me feel no lesser than Edison or Shaktiman. I believe if I had not given up on my childhood fascination for canvas and colours, for women, and Urdu poetry, I would have been able to solve a lot of worldly problems through my bright palette of art, like cynicism, heartbreak and even something more serious, like a bad hair day!
For as long as I can remember, my choices in life, and life itself, have been hugely influenced by colour, or sometimes the lack of it. I, to this date, would eat a multi-coloured pastry over a classic chocolate gâteau. Given a choice between white and black, I’d pick pink, and I’d wear bright red socks under a formal three-piece suit. Growing up, my closest friend was a cool guy named Zainul ‘Rangawala’ and if left to me, I would have named my very popular television show, ‘Pyar Ka Rang Hai… Neela Neela Hara Hara’ instead of the very predictable ‘Pyar Ka Dard Hai Meetha Meetha Pyara Pyara’. So much so, that I even have vivid flashes of my first crush. This boy who wore a beautifully woven bright magenta sweater with a hint of georgette blue on his sleeves and till date, I cannot forget when he arrived at my birthday party with his absolutely gorgeous sister, I was crushed. I am not sure if I remember ‘her’ more for being my first crush or for the wonderful colour combination her brother wore when I first saw ‘her’.
I wish I had a better story to tell you about how I decided to take on this very adventurous journey of being an actor, which to be honest, is a job where you get paid obscene amounts of money (hoping it happens to me soon), have people love you for nothing extraordinary you have done (hell yeah!) and at times get free desserts at restaurants, and sometimes even the entire meal complimentary (if they don’t recognise me, I show them my FB fan page), just because you chose to pursue something you do purely for selfish reasons, like wanting to take a leak on the Swiss Alps or dance on top of a train or rattle lines like Bachchan did in Deewar. But the truth is that I chose to become an actor purely because I loved how Madhuri Dixit would dance to ‘Ek Do Teen’ in that beautiful baby pink dress, or do that magical finger step in ‘Tu Shayar Hai’ (Saajan) in her splendid red dress with gold all over, or do a ‘Dhak Dhak’ in a rust orange lehenga and make it look so colourful and yet so very aspirational.
This reminds me of something beautiful I once read on an Insta post by the wonderfully talented Nimrat Kaur (whom I’ve been trying for a while to pin for a dinner date but she refuses to do any more than a lunchbox), “Being an artist is not just about what happens when you are in the studio. The way you live, the people you choose to love and the way you love them, the way you vote, the words that come out of your mouth, the size of the world you make for yourselves, your ability to influence the things you believe in, your obsessions, your failures – all of these components will also become the raw material for the art you make.” I couldn’t have agreed more. But if you asked me, there was something incomplete in this very complete statement. It lacked something which gave our lives the richness of texture and then came the afterthought… The colours which adorn you and the hues which you adorn become the art you make and the lives you live. Here’s wishing that each of us can find that colour palette which becomes the fodder for the rich lives we build for ourselves.