THE METROSEXUAL: Manish Malhotra savouring sandwiches at New Delhi's Taj Palace hotel. Photo: Shanker Chakravarty.
HE HAS no degree to show for, but Indian fashion rhymes with his name. He loves food and films are his passion. "My life is all about food, films and fashion. I live to eat and fashion has been my road to films," says Manish Malhotra enjoying the frugal fare at New Delhi's Taj Palace Hotel.
Manish comes across as somebody who has an eye for detail, an intense sense for style. It's winter so he is dressed to chill, in an air-conditioned room. When somebody orders cheese sandwich on his behalf he specifies, "paneer ones, not cheese." When the waiter spills some drops of water, it doesn't go as a slip; the table has to be re-laid. When he has to be in the frame, the other variables have to be equally stylish, so he brings in fresh roses to match his appeal.
"I am not a trained designer but I believe creativity can't be taught, technicality might be. Same with style. It is meant for everyone - fat, dark, ugly. It comes naturally. I might not be able to cook but I can arrange a dining table, the cutlery, the colour of the curtains... believe me I am very finicky about these things," says Manish sipping coffee. Doesn't all this fit in the definition of a metrosexual man? "Indeed, I am a metrosexual man for decades though the term has become fashionable only recently. I have been going for pedicure and manicure for years."
With Greek salad for starters, Manish goes down to the past when the young man from a humble background was in love with films but could not find an opening. He took to modelling but that was just for pocket. He turned to costume designing and found his calling changing the way Bollywood heroines used to dress up. "It was 1990, the film was Baaghi, where I dressed Nagma. For the first time directors started taking costume designing seriously. Till then it was like asking for three costumes for songs, two for family scenes, four for romantic ones... I started designing according to the script. Not only costumes, I emphasised the entire look of the heroine, jewellery, makeup, accessories and the like." Rangeela, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham followed and Manish became a permanent name in the credits and diaries of heroines. Be it gala marriages, dusty political rallies or attending a sombre funeral, Manish is just a stitch away. This August, he is finally turning to his first love when he starts shooting for his film. "It is going to be a musical, a complete entertainer with a three actor cast."
All for food
He claims though he is a Mumbaiite in every sense of the term when it comes to food he lives by his surname. "I love Punjabi food, Mughlai fare, gajar ka halwa, everything that makes you fat. I am all for American junk food, Italian and Mediterranean. I avoid sea food because I am allergic to prawns." His lean figure, a perfect jawline, reminiscent of some Italian model, and his choice of sandwiches, however, suggest otherwise. "The moment I gain some weight - recently he discovered he had added six kilograms - I go on a diet. These days I am on a controlled diet and a strict exercise schedule. One of the reasons is my talk show where I keep meeting friends and food becomes a necessity in between shoots," laughs Manish.
The Manish Malhotra Show on Zoom is making waves and Manish terms it as just another way to reach out to the people. "It's again about style. I don't try to peep into the personal lives of the guests nor do I make it too technical when I talk to people from the fashion world because it will limit its reach." That's some dessert to round off.
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