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Shahnaz shares secrets

As Shahnaz marks her entry into the mass market, she is already a sell out, says DEEPA ALEXANDER

Photo: Arun Roy Chowdhury

mirror, mirror The lady, who has bought herbs from kitchen gardens to the business of looking great, could share some tips with Miss Chennai Ketki Chandavarkar

Why is the sack of rice smelling of saffron, honey and lemon distillate, you wonder as you browse at a supermarket in the city. After a while you give up all pretence of looking for suitable basmati and follow your nose.

It takes you to the other end of the store, away from the sugar and spice to the cosmetics section and everything nice.

She sells youth and dreams in bottled jars and has helped raise self-confidence and appeal, ten notches.

The czarina of herbal beauty, Shahnaz Husain has become a brand for women the world over, among them a U.S. Senator, a Prime Minister's wife and Dame Barbara Cartland.

In a world of verbal acrobatics and pretty packaging, Shahnaz has never marketed her premium range.

Found only on the shelves of beauty saloons in upmarket sections of the city, Shahnaz's version of flower power had elitist takers because of the heavy price tag that came with it.

To set that right, Shahnaz was in the city to mark her entry into the mass market with a fairness cream, Fair One.

But a fairness cream... Is that politically correct? "I agree beauty is only skin deep and your natural look is the best. But I'm here to supply the demand and this is an age of economic considerations," says Shahnaz. "Just because Fair One is not as expensive as Shafair is no compromise on the quality.

Developed after years of extensive research it is full of natural ingredients blended to perfection."

Asking the goddess of greasepaint, known to swear by "natural care and cure" whether she tests her products on animals is like navigating a minefield.

"Never," she declares passionately, even sounding a little irritated. You know then for sure that the leopard print handbag is faux. "Not in all these 35 years."

Shahnaz says that returning to Hyderabad is like coming home. Descended from a long line of Central Asian horsemen who made the city their home, her grandfathers have both served the Nizam.

"My family is deeply entrenched in the history of the Deccan. It's a matter of emotion to launch my product here.

Fair One is the only fairness cream with a sunscreen. It is for everyone.

I would want to see it sell even on railway platforms." Given the Indian obsession for fair skin, genes notwithstanding, Shahnaz may not find her latest offering to hard to sell.

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