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Published: Verve Magazine, Line Up (Behind the scenes of the cover shoot), October 2009
Photographer: Vishesh Verma



Suddenly, a lazy Sunday becomes suffused with energy – there are make-up artists, hair stylists and a host of Verve staffers scurrying about the impressive Mahindra Towers, Mumbai. Really, getting eight women of ‘hot’ couture together could be termed nothing short of an achievement. Smiles pasted, calves toned to deal with the pressure, endless cups of soda (not diet, by the way) and coffee later and we have 10 hours worth of memories of one helluva iconic shoot.

We start with two good omens: the breaking of porcelain and Rita Dhody. The first to arrive, amicable to a T and replete with fresh ideas, Rita remains, until the end of the day, charm personified. In an aside, while we wait for the others to put on the finishing touches of their make-up and get the team from Yasmin’s to tease their hair into sensational curls, she tells me, rather nostalgically, how she not only let Verve into her heart, but also into her home for an “amazing feature, full of depth, that brought in everything that was good and beautiful in my life” way back in 2003.

There is a lively sprite-like quality about Akanksha Nanda. Her vitality seems to spring from more than her slight frame and she chats with me about how much fun she had on a ‘London holiday’ where she did a fashion story with Verve and managed to squeeze in time for some heavy-duty sightseeing as well.

I skip past reams of cloth and a tangle of wires, stop to admire a couple of well-guarded stunning pieces of Zoya jewellery and make my way towards Nandita Mahtani and Haseena Jethmalani. As they are busy multitasking – what with make-up, personal chats and phone calls, it becomes practically impossible to get a word in edgeways. Besides, Nandita is terribly distracted, having made a rather ambitious plan for Alibaug for this afternoon. As her phone rings non stop and her antsy stance begins to affect the others, photographer Vishesh Verma and the Verve art team (creative director Falguni Kapadia and photo editor Lamya Bhatri) attempt to get the perfect shot.

Verve fashion director Nisha Jhangiani (ably assisted by Sohiny Das and Rishika Roopchand) has barely stopped to eat, as she flits from one woman to the next, as if on adrenalin, picking the most flattering outfit, convincing, cajoling, mollifying and possibly, mentally exploding. In the midst of it all is an incessant demand for banana chips, mirrors (and more mirrors!) and the cause of finding lost phones and designer handbags.

Malini Ramani strides in with her personal air of unabashed confidence. Immediately she needs a caffeine high – she can probably sense the zing in the air. Poised through it all, from the moment she steps out of the bubble-elevator, Simone Singh’s eyes light up with the memory of her first cover shoot with Verve – which incidentally took place right here and was ‘all roses’. Now, as she gets her make-up done, she appears apprehensive about ruining her pristine white skirt. A Verve staffer’s throw is quickly handed to her, with Lancôme make-up artist, Stafford Braganza’s reassuring voice in the background saying, “The make-up won’t spill!”

Kalyany Chawla, driving straight from the airport chats animatedly with everyone; a little hug here, a little peck there, noting every style detail and keeping a firm hand with her hair and make-up artists. Leaning forward she confides, “I appreciate the fact that you don’t have to be 20 to be on Verve’s best-dressed list!”

Waif-like Priya Kishore, who flits (even floats) across the room, confidently carrying off an extraordinary haircut, in a way that only she can, gives us a thumbs up for willing to experiment with her unconventional style. I follow her up narrow metal stairs and watch with fascination as she deftly pulls off a fabulous inside shot in a matter of seconds. She quietly takes off her sky-high gold heels, puts ballerina flats back on and flits back down to earth. It will be some time before we do.