We have no tera mera, it’s all hamara
Kavita Barjatya, 34
Sister to: Sooraj Barjatya, head of Rajshri Productions
Is: Head of television production arm of Rajshri Productions
Home is: Mumbai
Kavita Barjatya lives a life quite like the one her cousin, Sooraj Barjatya depicts in his productions — in a big, happy family, joined as much by personal ties as by professional ones.
Thirty-four-year-old Kavita heads the television division for Rajshri Productions, supervising everything from “scratch to telecast”.
Sensing her potential to be a one-woman show, Barjatya asked Kavita to diversify into television in 2005. Their soaps like Woh Rehne Waali Mehlon Ki and Yahaan Main Ghar Ghar Kheli gained much popularity, too. “We have brainstorming meetings, but we have never argued. Sooraj is my guru,” Kavita smiles.
The daughter of Kamal Kumar Barjatya, the eldest brother among three siblings, Kavita grew up pampered. When she was not studying, Kavita remembers picking up trophies for kathak.
She may be 10 years younger than the reticent producer-director, who introduced happy joint families to Bollywood with 1989’s Maine Pyar Kiya, but she has kept Rajshri relevant today.
So, would Kavita attempt a new kind of Rajshri cinema? Clearly, a large section of filmgoers enjoy gaalis and innuendos, now. Kavita answers after a pause. “We have made films and serials based on the way we were brought up. We have no ‘tera-mera’, it’s all ‘hamara’.
My grandpa, Shri Tarachand Barjatya, set the motto ‘Family Entertainment’ for our company. We will continue to produce clean, wholesome family entertainers.”
She does admit, though, that change is the need of the hour. “We need to package our films in a fresh way, and we’re working on that. In cinema, there is no right or wrong. If a filmmaker tells his/her story convincingly, it works.”
Meanwhile, even as Barjatya has signed on Salman Khan for a film that may hit the floors next year, Kavita intends to produce a film, which she hopes to release in 2013. - Vickey Lalwani
Pics: Rana Chakraborty
Rahman is more father than brother to me
Raihanah Shekar, 47
Sister to: Allah Rakha Rahman, 46, Oscar-winning music composer-singer
Is: Singer in Rahman’s troupe
Home is: Chennai
Sometime in the early ’90s, during Ramzan, Raihanah sang a jingle for a toy company. That was the first time she worked with her brother, A R Rahman, India’s most feted music composer and singer.
Since then, the 47-year-old has recorded several songs, sung harmonies in his Tamil compositions, and travelled as part of his troupe.
“The first time I performed abroad was in 1996 with the troupe in Malaysia. It was a big deal for me. After the show, I joined the other musicians who had gathered around Rahman to thank him. He smiled at me and said, ‘Thanks for what?’” says Raihanah.
Though she loved to sing, Raihanah never took it up professionally till she began to work with Rahman, when he would compose jingles for ad films. Her sisters Talat Fathima (42) and Ishrath (38) began to sing for him soon after, as part of his chorus.
“Each time we are up on stage together, it is magic. But when the show begins, there is no brother-sister dynamic at play. He is the composer and I am the singer,” says Raihanah. But then, she adds, the benefit of being Rahman’s sister extends much beyond the stage.
After their musician father R K Shekar passed away when she was 10, Rahman took on the role of the breadwinner. “Though he is younger to me by 15 months, he has always looked out for us. He has been more a father than brother to us. He made sure that we didn’t despair over our loss. My respect for him is so deep, it’s akin to reverence,” she says.
Rahman’s self-effacing personality is reflected even at home, even though Raihanah says, he prefers a slight sense of detachment. “He is most attached to God, and his work. When he makes a suggestion, I usually follow it. He is almost always right.” This also explains why the siblings have never fought.
“I can remember no more than two arguments in 20 years,” she laughs.
This, despite going through hard times, like when they had to rent out their father’s musical instruments and Rahman quit school to earn as a keyboard player. Back then too, Raihanah says, Rahman was as even tempered.
“His little legs sunk in large gum boots, Rahman would happily cycle to his school. Once, my mother and I fetched him during school hours to rush him to a recording session. It broke me to see him struggle, leave studies for work.”
The sister admits to being mesmerised by his music. “I would just sit and listen admiringly whenever he played. His music always leaves me feeling inspired. He may have a million fans but, as he had once acknowledged in an interview, I’m his first fan.”
Rahman’s unblinking trust in Raihanah is legendary, too. In the early 2000s, Rahman left her in charge of the cassette duplication unit at his studio, Panchatan Record Inn, before going abroad on work.
“I advanced a sum of several lakh to someone for a deal, but that man duped us. I was distraught. I wondered how I’d face Rahman. But, he never brought it up with me. His only reaction after I told him what happened was, ‘Oh, he cheated us?’” - Anand Holla
Mahesh is a tough boss
Kavita Bhupathi-Chadda, 35
Sister to: Mahesh Bhupathi, 38, Tennis player
Is: CEO of sports and entertainment marketing agency, Globosport
Home is: Mumbai
|Pics: Rana Chakraborty
When Mahesh first won the Grand Slam title in 1997, the press came to our house. My parents were giving interviews downstairs and I remember looking on from above. A media person, who happened to look up, saw me and asked, ‘How do you feel?’ All I said was, ‘Great’. It was so awkward.”
Fifteen years on, tennis champ Mahesh Bhupathi’s sister Kavita Bhupathi-Chadda, is still squeamish in the spotlight. The 35-year-old is most comfortable working behind the scenes as the CEO of the sports and entertainment marketing agency Globosport, set up by Bhupathi a decade ago.
“In Mahesh’s absence, I stitch all the pieces together and develop the business along with him,” says Kavita, sitting in her Khar office.
After she returned to India with an MBA degree from an American university in 2005, she began managing the endorsement assignments and tournaments of tennis player Sania Mirza. Within two years, she went on to build quality sport surfaces of the
country. “At the very outset, Mahesh told me that if I wanted to join the company, I’d have to start at the bottom.”
As her position in the company changed over the years, her equation with Bhupathi evolved. “We are different personalities. Mahesh sees the big picture.
He’s the visionary, the risk-taker. I’m a detail-oriented, risk-averse person. The good thing is that we are siblings, so we fight it out,” she says. “But over the years, we’ve learnt to be more professional with each other at work.”
It helps that Bhupathi is not a micro-manager. “If you go up to him with a problem, he’ll advise you but let you make your decision. This is true of him, both, personally and professionally.”
Do they take work home?
“Yes, but both our spouses, Arun and Lara, are Punjabi and family-oriented people. They ensure that we talk about family stuff,” she smiles.
“As kids, we didn’t spend much time together. Mahesh was always travelling, either to train or attend camps. We shared a long-distance sibling relationship,” Kavita points out.
But family sticks together in the Bhupathi household. “All of us are protective about him. He’s a public figure and there are all kinds of opinions about him, which don’t have any base.
There are times when we hold back and tell ourselves we shouldn’t take it personally. Likewise, when there is pressure on the court, we all feel it. We are all on a common Blackberry family group, and throughout the match we ping one another to calm our nerves,” reveals Kavita.
Bhupathi, too, is on the group. After the match, he reads the conversations and replies with a smiley emoticon. “Mahesh is a man of few words,” says Kavita.
He’s also sentimental.
“One time at Wimbledon, I visited him with chapati and egg bhurji that I had prepared. It was mostly inedible, but Mahesh quietly ate it because I had cooked it for him. That’s the kind of person he is. He doesn’t say anything. Even if he is appreciative of your work, he won’t say it. You figure it out eventually in twisted ways.” - Reema Gehi