Zarine Khan on Sussanne Khan and Duggu

Published On: 2012-06-15


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Khan do décor!


Sanjay Khan's wife? Hrithik Roshan's mother-in-law? First things first... Zarine Khan is the diva of decor, says T.KRITHIKA REDDY 


Her face is a map of lively expressions. And her spirit, seamless. Her accent is on monochromatic colour schemes. But her world's filled with polychromatic hues. Life's been one mad rush for the past two decades. Yet, she's not complaining. For she was determined to make her dream work. No matter what. Meet Zarine Khan, celebrity interior designer, wife of Sanjay Khan and mon-in-law of Hrithik Roshan. 

In chic kameez and fine jewellery, she makes an elegant statement, much like her interiors. It's a whistle-stop tour of Chennai and her itinerary is crammed. But catch up with Zarine at a function organised by Ellements, a women's club, where she has been invited for a talk, and she readily agrees for an interview. 

Zarine has absolutely no formal background in the art of interior designing. So how exactly did she manage that transition from homemaker to professional designer? "Well... Designing is something to do with taste and instinct. You either have it in you or don't. I started at a time when men dominated the field. So I had to fight twin odds — overcome gender bias and work really hard because of my lack of training. It took some time for people to accept my work." 

The ace designer started by refurbishing her house in Juhu, Mumbai. With film personalities flitting in and out, thanks to Sanjay Khan, she gradually landed "some assignments in an informal way." That's when she decided to give her creativity a commercial spin. "The in<147,1,7>terior work for Manoj Kumar's master bedroom proved to be a turning point. It fetched me Rs. 1,500! Offers soon poured in... from Hemamalini, Raj Kapoor and other film personalities. And as the cliché goes, "there was no looking back". 

Following the success in designing interiors for cineastes, she was blitzed with offers from the corporate and hospitality worlds. Britannia Industries offices (Bangalore), Greaves Cotton, Mody offices, Bombay Stock Exchange chairman's office, Maurya Sheraton (New Delhi), Chola Sheraton (Chennai), Searock Hotel (Mumbai), Country Club (Hyderbad and Mumbai) and the palace of the King of Nepal ... her projects read like a wish list! 

Reminiscing, Zarine goes on, "Creativity should not be strangled. I realised my flair for design and natural feel for colour. I didn't want to be confined to home and called the `sweet little thing'. But that didn't mean suppressing feminine traits altogether. Every marriage goes through its highs and lows. I needed to move out and persevere in my chosen profession without compromises on the home front. And ultimately, it paid off - both ways". 

As the diva of decor delves into the nitty-gritty of what is now established as the "Zarine look" it's clear that style to her is about "freedom, comfort and elegance". She elaborates, "First, designers must feel free to experiment and make choices. Particularly today, when the market is hit by a surfeit of styles. Comfort and elegance must come together. There's no compromising on one for the other''. 

Fascinated by the role of colour in interiors, Zarine says, "Colour defines not just the mood, but proportion as well. I love using light, monochromatic hues. With a dash of imagination colour, could add an interesting element of drama to interiors". 

Talking about trends, Zarine reiterates, "I don't follow any trend. To me design is a very subjective thing. It varies from interior to interior. It's frivolous to track a trend just because it's in. What's important is to see what works for you and go about designing without stifling creativity. In recent times, there is this feverish concern for following particular styles. Such a mindset bothers me". 

About the recent craze for Vaastu and Feng Shui, the designer says, "Well... the ancient arts are about ushering in good energy, well-being and happiness. But one should not take it to a fanatical point. Remember, there are so many millionaires out there in the West who don't know Vaastu or Feng Shui.'' 

Moving from professional matters to the personal, Zarine, who has been doing the balancing act necessitated by overlapping of roles quite well says, "I've always felt that career women make better homemakers than some of those party-hopping housewives. We bond better with the family. I've always been around when my four children wanted me." She adds, "Interestingly, all the four are artistically inclined. While my first daughter Farah Khan is a jewellery designer, the second, Simone Arora is in the textiles line. The third, Sussanne, is a qualified interior designer. She is involved in refurbishing her new home, and will soon pursue the line seriously. My son is all set to make his debut in Bollywood." Talking about Sussanne's art as opposed to her own, Zarine points out that while she prefers classic styles that don't get dated, her daughter is more modernistic and very much into Italian designs. "In a way, we represent continuity and change". 

A savvy navigator through the tides of life, Zarine's strength has been to stay cool in sunshine or gloom. "I've been through bouts of deep depression. But luckily I've emerged stronger, she says, obviously hinting at the rough spots in her marriage. Her USP: "Be positive. Count the good things to happen to you. Most important, it's never too late to dream. Move on... "