Designer Neeta Lulla and daughter Nishka on the chemistry they share and why Dr Lulla wore pink to her fashion show
SHE looks like a Barbie herself when she opens the main door and leads you to the living room. Thin, tall and soft-spoken, she seems to be the doll of the family too. There's a subtle layer of happiness even among the house-helps. And it's difficult to miss the touch of soft pride on mother Neeta Lulla's face. Daughter Nishka won the Barbie All Doll'd Up contest at the recently concluded Lakme Fashion Week. And now, she is all set to foray into the design world with her own brand Nisshk under Neeta Lulla's banner.
Says mother Neeta, "Nishka has a completely different agenda and style. Her foray into designing wasn't planned. It's something that just happened. I am glad it did. We were to do a soft launch of our third line called Nisshk in about three-four months and then a formal line at the next season of fashion week. But suddenly, this entire Barbie thing happened. It's a blessing in disguise."
Talking about her brand Nisshk, Nishka says, "I am going to do something totally prÃªt. The collection would be more for teenagers, starting from seven to 10 year olds to 28-year-olds. It's a young line. It's simple, stylish. I put together the outfit, accessorise and style it so that you don't have the trouble of styling it."
Prices are going to be reasonable, she says, but the range starts only from Rs 2,000.
Neeta add, "I think Nishka's jewellery line is going to be within the range of Rs 800 to Rs 1,500. And the entire coordinate will sell from Rs 8,000 to maximum Rs 12,000.
The diploma holder from SNDT, Nishka has already bagged a film. "I am doing the costumes for Rajshri Films. The project is untitled, the actors are new. The film has a young look this time around unlike Rajshri movies."
In the limelight
With the 24-year-old daughter stepping into the limelight, Neeta gets emotional. "I don't think we should be doing this interview in front of her if I have to talk about how proud I am," Neeta jokes. On a serious note, the mother says, "I never thought I could choke or my eyes could well up with tears seeing Nishka walk the ramp. I did. I am very proud of her creativity and talent."
Nishka's love for dolls is rooted since her growing up years. She recalls, "We used to have a studio near home earlier. I used to always sit there and cut clothes for my dolls."
To this, Neeta pitches in, "You have to see how many dolls and toys in our house have with our surname. There are probably 150 Lullas hanging around the house."
Nishka adds happily, "And now with the Barbie trophy to add to it, it's like a dream come true."
Business as usual
Talking about her daughter's abilities, Neeta says that not many of her clients know that Nishka handles the Neeta Lulla store at Santacruz. "Nishka always calls me m'am in front of the clients," she laughs. So when she gets a call from the clients complaining that she has a very tough manager who won't give in to discount requests, Neeta has to pacify them with, "No, no she is my daughter and she will handle whatever is required. I can't tell her to give discounts because she is the boss".
To this Nishka adds softly, "But I think whatever I do, I do need her approval."
Growing up years
Neeta's eyes sparkle at the memory of her daughter's growing up years. "After she learnt to say mom and dad, her third word was match. Everything she wore had to match. The shoes and accessories had to match. She had a flair for hair styles and used lots and lots of clips. If she had four or five tweety bird or teddy bear clips, she would scream that she wanted more," says the mother laughing, as the daughter gives a shy smile.
Nishka started accompanying her mother on shoots when she was around three or four years old.
"I think it was the beach shoot with Rakesh Shreshtha and Meenakshi Sheshadri, mom," Nishka tells her mother.
"Ya, she used to come with me to photo shoots. Once, to my shock, I was dressing up a Bengali actress, I forget her name. I left to get some accessories. By the time I came back, I had this five-year-old daughter of mine standing near the actress, putting her dress properly, smoothing it. I thought I had to get her out of there and put her in a school first," says Neeta laughing.
During the photo shoot, Neeta tries to pull her daughter's black bubble dress down. She even keeps her hand across Nishka's legs playfully to cover up. On what her mom says when she dresses up, Nishka says, "She said, give me also a dress like this." Neeta laughs in agreement, but seems to have briefed her daughter well on the negatives and the positives of the industry. She says, "We all face the world as a challenge. I can't expect that my children won't. You get tougher with your caliber of work and with your own character. I think my kids have it. And work speaks for itself. Nishka will face it with the caliber of work she puts out there.
Dr Lulla in pink
And what does Dr Shyam Lulla have to say? "Dad has always given me pointers. If I have wondered what next, I have always taken his opinion. He is very happy for me for the Barbie thing."
Neeta adds, "To the extend that he didn't go to the clinic and instead attended her Barbie show and also wore a pink shirt."
"It's my favourite colour. There is always something pink in whatever I wear," the daughter chirps as the pink in her watch dial shines.
"But I must tell you a little secret. Of the two diverse professions on the cards for Nishka, studying medicine was the first, and design second.
I really don't know from where the jump happened. It would have been easy for her to become a doctor because she got very good marks."
Nishka smiles, "I don't like seeing blood. I thought the idea of curing patients and the respect one earned was nice. But I was better at styling and coordination. I thought it was going to be easy studying fashion. But the first year in college was so tough. But now, I feel that you can express yourself through your designs... it's like art. There is something of me in it. It feels nice."
'I shout at her 24x7'
What is a typical Sunday like?
Neeta: Trying to wake Nishka up and then grounding her for keeping her room untidy.
Nishka: (Just smiles)
How often do you shout at her?
Neeta: 24x7 (laughs).
Nishka: Not 24x7 but she always corrects me.
Memories of growing up?
Neeta: She is still growing up for me.
Nishka: I will be 24 in May.
One thing you love about each other.
Neeta: She will never grow up. She is a baby. I think it's the inner sense, the carefreeness that I like a lot about her.
Nishka: Mom is very graceful and knows how to carry herself. She is ambitious and keeps getting better at it. And yet she has always taken care of us, spoilt us. Unlike other parents who don't have time for family, she has always been around. She is a wonderful mom.
One thing you don't like about each other.
Neeta: The same thing... that she is a baby. I feel she is innocent and naive as compared to other children I see around. She just goes with what her heart tells her. That's a good aspect but it's also bad at the same time.
Nishka: There's nothing I don't like about her. Honestly. I get to party when I want to. She fires me sometimes with 'don't be out so late.' (laughs)