Sangeeta Ahir. Pic/Shadab Khan
The collarbone that flashes from the side of the mustard halter neck Burberry gown could take up the controversial coin challenge. But Sangeeta Ahir won't apologise for her waif-like waist and sculpted upper arms just because she is mother to a 27-year-old. The wife of Sachin Ahir, National Congress Party's Mumbai Unit president, has lost 15 kilos in seven months, and rediscovered the precious prize of confidence. Her personal best is five sets x 15 reps of squats with 100-pound weights, and she discusses body fat percentage and muscle mass like she would the news of the day.
Sangeeta switches from the dress into a Giorgio Armani black sleeveless top with honeycomb detailing for the photographer. Her toned legs ending in Gucci boots cross over each other elegantly as she gently drags her chin lower for a close up that frames her face with tinted hair. "Clothing choices don't send a message. I think you can wear a saree and still look hot. I dress according to occasion. If I'm meeting members of our constituency, I will bear in mind the image they have of me, the vahini [sister-in-law]. I'll pick a saree or salwar then," she says, adding, "Maharashtrians can be conservative."
Sachin and Sangeeta in a 2012 photo
With her kids old enough — Krissh, 27, is assistant director on Tiger Zinda Hai; Kiran, 23, is studying hospitality, and Aishwarya, 15, is in class 10 at Bombay Scottish — Sangeeta says she finally found time for herself. "Although I was never overweight, I desired to be fit," she says. A no-nonsense cardio-meets-weight training exercise routine, six days a week, and home cooked dinner before 8 pm, is what it took to land her in shape. "Once the woman of the family starts taking care of herself, it changes the rest. My husband, children and even my staff seem to be eating healthier."
Sachin, it's obvious, has been an ally for long. Although they married as recently as 2002, their friendship dates to the time they were students at Santacruz's Air India Modern School. Sangeeta's father, a chief engineer was married to Shilpa Shankar Kabbur, an Air India employee. "We even lived in the same colony," she smiles, before clarifying, "It wasn't a childhood romance, but we were drawn to each other, yes." Once school ended, life took them separate ways. "It was after I had separated from my late husband Sudhakar Bokade, that we reconnected. Sachin stood by me when I had no support from friends during the estrangement period," she shares.
Sangeeta with Christian Louboutin, who marries French style with Italian craftsmanship to create the world's most coveted red-lacquered sole heels
As a politician wife, she played the role of smiling supporter happily. "I remember how jittery I was when I first had to campaign at Worli's BDD Chawl. I asked a party worker if the residents knew I was coming. But, I received a heartfelt welcome, and continue to. The transition [to public life] was very easy."
It's possible that her experience in the film industry allowed her to negotiate scrutiny with ease. Bokade, a prominent name in '90s Bollywood, married Sangeeta in 1990. Before he turned producer, he too worked for Air India. "We ventured into Bollywood together," she says, "Since he was also an outsider, we made a good team." The couple produced hit films like Saajan, the blockbuster romantic drama starring Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt and Salman Khan, and the critically acclaimed Prahaar.
Her nude pumps and bag signed by him
"I cannot see myself invested in any other business but Bollywood," says Sangeeta, who launched her production firm, Manglmurti Films, in 2000. Apne, featuring the Deol family; Madhur Bhandarkar's Calendar Girls; Subhash Kapoor's Guddu Rangeela and Marathi film, Daagdi Chawl, are all her projects. But it's Rohit Shetty's Golmaal 4 that could catapult her into the big league. "It's the best project from my production house," she says about the Diwali release. "Rohit is amazing to work with. He has an aura of flamboyance but he is a simple person."
As India's first female film distributor (Ajay Devgn-Emraan Hashmi starrer Baashaho was her latest), the balance she strikes between films and politics makes it easy for a comparison with Smita Thackeray. "I guess we share the common space of politics and films, and that leads to a likeness. She is a good friend," is all she'll say.
But she knows that unlike so many politico spouses, who might have equal privileges and acquired taste, she doesn't toe the public image line.
The drawing room in her sea-facing Worli apartment is proof. A handcrafted Fendi Selleria Roman leather sofa sits beside a made-to-order Louis Vuitton coffee set. A new pair of Christian Louboutin nude heels and handbag, signed by the French designer are up for celebration on her Twitter account. She admits she wears Armani, Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla, Manish Malhotra and Sabyasachi Mukherjee. "I can't be a hypocrite. There's no shame in living the way you want to. Why wear different faces? That's not me."
The Maharashtra politician's wife with the best fashion sense?
I don't know. Nobody, I guess.
The most stylish First Lady currently?
Mrs Trump. She's bold and honest about who she is.
The movie you wish you had produced?
Golmaal 4. I am producing it!
If you could wish for the body of a celebrity, who would it be?
The director you are keen to work with?
Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Being married to a politician is:
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