Bollywood celebrities often influence the career decisions of their children, sometimes inadvertently. No wonder we have a burgeoning brigade of GenNow actors, filmmakers and musicians. But some star kids have charted their own paths and found success in other fields. hitlist turns the spotlight on those who dare to be different
Never mind the fact that they were born with a silver spoon in their mouths, or had the ‘right’ surnames to make it big. However, quite a few star kids have been bold enough to break away from this predictable trend and live their passion to the fullest. And in doing that, they have proved that they are no less talented than their celeb parents.
Touch of royalty: Sharmila Tagore and her elder daughter Saba Ali Khan. Pic/Rane Ashish
A case in point is Masaba Gupta, leading fashion designer and the love child of actress Neena Gupta and West Indies cricketing legend, Vivian Richards. “I was trying several things in life at one point. I went to learn music in London but returned to India as I was homesick. I also learnt dancing at Shiamak Davar’s institute and was a tennis enthusiast as well and played the game for almost seven years. But as I grew older, I realised that I lacked that X factor that is needed to become a sportsperson. I was like a Jack of all trades but that wasn’t what I wanted to be. So, I started dropping quite a few things from my routine,” says Masaba. “Gradually, I moved to fashion and it is by fluke that I am here,” she laughs.
Masaba Gupta with mother Neena Gupta
It was during her graduation days that Masaba — which means princess in Swahili, an east African language — won four awards for her creative designs and started getting flooded with offers from designer stores wanting to stock her collection. “My teachers and designer Wendell Rodricks appreciated my designs. I enjoyed each and every bit of the adulation. I am really glad I stuck to it (fashion designing),” she adds.
And she credits her mother, Neena Gupta, for her unwavering support and encouragement. “It was my mom who made me realise my strengths and the way to channel them. She would constantly tell me that I have an eye for fashion trends and good clothes and that I would do well as a designer. But I just wasn’t enthused by the idea then. It was only years later that I realised my true calling lied in fashion designing,” she smiles.
Alka Yagnik and daughter Syesha Kapoor. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Mom’s her world
Gupta senior manages Masaba’s life so that she can fully concentrate on her work. “My mom takes care of all my accounts, staff management, logistics and deals. I only have to look after the creative part. But I must tell you that she is my worst critic, too. If she doesn’t like my work, she will tell me on my face that I have done a bad job,”
A normal day for her means 20 calls, 60 meetings, and constantly checking her e-mail apart from being glued to the phone for work-related calls. “If I have to unwind, I listen to music and read books. I also like to take long walks on the beach,” she says.
Farah Khan Ali
Blinging it on
Another star kid who dared to be different is Saba Ali Khan, the eldest daughter of actress Sharmila Tagore and former Indian cricket skipper, late Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi. Unlike her actor siblings, Saif and Soha, Saba chose a career in jewellery designing and event management. Though an introvert by nature, she admits to have become quite communicative, thanks to her job. “I was shy earlier, but now calling up and meeting people, and organising things have opened a new avenue for me. I never thought I would enjoy my job so much. I have a degree in advertising and love photography, too. But then I wanted to do a jewellery designing course and realised that I like diamonds, different kinds of precious stones and the way jewellery pieces are created. I wasn’t confident initially but when my creations found favour with people, I felt encouraged. I discovered my skills and I would say it was luck by chance,” she waxes eloquent.
Exploring new avenues
Event management happened barely three years ago for the Pataudi scion. “One of my friends needed help in putting an event together so I took up the responsibility. I realised that you discover yourself in some form while you try different things. Initially, my mom was skeptical about me turning to jewellery art as she thought I wasn’t taking it seriously. But when my creations started selling, her perception changed. My friends went up to her and said some good things about my work. It took a while for her to understand that I have the talent when it comes to jewellery designing,” Saba confides.
Happy in her space
So, how is it to be in the background as her two siblings bask in the limelight all the time? Saba shrugs: “I am a self-confessed movie buff but haven’t explored that avenue yet. I didn’t give it much of a chance and attention. I am a camera-shy person and would always prefer staying behind the camera. Moreover, let’s not give my siblings more to worry about,” she says on a lighter note.
Despite her busy schedule, Saba ensures that she devotes time to her pet passion — photography. “I always go around clicking pictures of my family whenever we get together. I always used to regret the times when I didn’t have a camera to capture a moment and treasure memories. I am still keen on doing something bigger when it comes to still photography and would love to assist Dabboo Ratnani,” she adds.
Another world of glitz
Farah Khan Ali, the eldest of actor-filmmaker, Sanjay Khan’s four children, has also found solace in the world of gems and jewellery, which she stumbled into by accident. “I never wanted to become a designer. I was accompanying a friend to Los Angeles, excited about the party scene there. I enrolled for a course in Gemology. When I saw the textbooks, I realised that there would be only studying and no partying. Fortunately, I ended up acing my class at the Gemological Institute of America in California. One thing led to another and I studied jewellery designing as well. I returned to India and thought that whatever I would do, I would be the best at it.”
Farah was never interested in films. In fact, she used to find it very boring to hang around the sets. “My parents always exposed me to the outside world. They wanted me to study history, culture and general knowledge. My family always gave importance to creativity. I had an artistic temperament and was good at sketching. I am very happy that I have made a name on my own. I don’t love to design; I live to design,” she says.
Recalling her father’s words, ‘I may not leave you with a legacy, but I would leave you educated’, she says talent alone makes one a celebrity. “People have a curiosity value and just check you out if you have a star parent. To take your career forward, you need to have the talent. Nothing sustains but talent. I have worked hard — it has been 21 years — and I have had my ups and downs, but I am still learning and going strong,” she explains.
A different note
Syesha Kapoor, daughter of playback singer Alka Yagnik, who has been part of the Bollywood music industry over three decades, also walks her own path. She chose the hospitality industry because she felt that she did not have the vocal chords to make sweet melody like her mother. Working as an associate director (Marketing and Business) with Silver Beach Entertainment and Hospitality, Syesha graduated from the Les Roches International School of Hotel Management, Switzerland. And she couldn’t be any happier about her career path.
“I can’t imagine myself doing anything apart from my current job. I did go to film school and realised that it was not meant for me. I joined as brand head (Marketing), JSM, which owns various joints such as Hard Rock Café, Shiro, Maitai, California Pizza Kitchen and Pinkberry,” she says.
Living her passion
The youngster also has a keen interest in cooking and baking. “I love to travel and try different cuisines around the world. I like to rustle up those dishes at home,” she says.
When she was younger, everyone believed she would inherit the legacy of her mother’s mellifluous voice that music lovers were hooked to in the ’90s and early 2000s. “Music may be in my blood but I’m an average singer. I did a course in hospitality as I was passionate about the field. I feel that whatever you do, you should be happy and be the best in it,” Syesha reasons.
Family support has been tremendous for her. “Mom stood rock solid in all the professional decisions of my life. She laid emphasis on finishing my graduation and master’s degree. I once told her that I wanted to do my PhD, and she gave me the thumbs-up as she believes in higher education. She has allowed me to find my own space,” she signs off.
These star kids also veered off the beaten track
Ahana Deol, Odissi dancer
Dharmendra and Hema Malini’s younger daughter is trained in Odissi dance under guru Rabindra Atibuddhi. She has performed in India as well as abroad, including at the famous Khajuraho Dance Festival. She also performs regularly at stage shows with her mother and sister, Esha Deol. She is likely to make her acting debut in Bollywood soon.
Priya Dutt, Politician
Born to actors Sunil Dutt and Nargis, Priya chose a career in politics after her father’s death in 2005. She took a plunge into politics despite holding a post graduate diploma in television production from the Centre for Media Arts, New York City.
Neil Nitin Mukesh, Actor
Grandson of legendary singer, Mukesh and son of Nitin Mukesh, Neil had music running in his blood but he decided to choose acting over singing as a career. His brother, Naman, however, is into direction and writing.
Sussanne Khan, Interior designer
Notwithstanding an actor dad Sanjay Khan and exposure to the film industry from an early age, Sussanne went on to get a degree in interior designing. Today, she owns a home decor store.