DIVYA KHOSLA KUMAR is a self-made woman – a model, actress, producer and film director, who has directed scores of music videos. Known for her keen fashion sense, Divya is most comfortable following her instincts and is not a tribe follower. Wife of Bhushan Kumar, chairman and managing director of T-Series, Divya has carved a niche for herself in the film industry, and has won recognition for her work, including the Rajiv Gandhi Award 2014 – Woman of Substance and Women Achievers Award in 2012. In a candid interview, Divya talks about her journey into the film and music world and her first directorial debut Yaariyan. For this diva, styling is all about making wise choices.
She offers some expert tips on fashion and jewellery styling for modern Indian women.
BY SHANOO BIJLANI
You are a multi-talented woman. You began your career as a model and later acted in Hindi and Telugu films. How did the transition happen?
I am a Delhi girl with modelling as my stepping stone into the glamour industry. The plus point about modelling is that it grooms you to perfection. During my modelling phase, I also was chosen to do ad commercials since I was not very skinny. When I ventured to Mumbai to realise my dreams, I got to star in several music videos with the likes of actor Salman Khan and singer Falguni Pathak. It was all thanks to my music videos stint, that I got a role in my first Bollywood film, Ab Tumhaare Hawale Watan Saathiyo.
Did you always want to be a model and an actress?
Frankly, the glamour industry never really fascinated me, so I didn’t quite think I would land up in the film industry. I was always very studious and nerdy, always topping my class and not painting the town red with my friends. But I guess fate had something else in store for me and it all started with my college beauty contest, which I won. After that one thing led to another and here I am…
You seem to have a penchant for taking up many courses. Why did you learn cinematography and editing? Did you have a hunch that you would direct films one day?
It wasn’t as much of a hunch as it was a goal. Once I figured what it was that I wanted to do, I worked towards achieving it. As a director, one needs to know all the aspects related to the field. It is not ideal to be dependent on others in our field and hence I did a course in cinematography and editing to gain knowledge about every detail that goes into the task of directing and making a film. This made me more confident of myself and my abilities and did not involve relying on anyone else but myself.
You also have a great ear for music and together with your husband Bhushan Kumar have launched many a career. Your music videos say it all. Could you tell us a little more about how important this journey has been?
It has been quite a journey, I would say. Bhushan and I both have grown together, creatively and professionally. Since we are both in the same field, we have the advantage of bouncing ideas and thoughts off each other and discussing the pros and cons of each project either of us undertakes. No journey ever ends, and having Bhushan by my side has definitely been helpful. He is the backbone of my survival and my source of strength.
How did you land up directing a movie Yaariyan and how was the experience?
Post my cinematography and editing courses, my first venture was directing a short film on anti-piracy. The film received accolades in many film festivals and I was ecstatic with the overwhelming response. This gave me the confidence I required to undertake a larger project. I then moved on to directing music videos (approximately 20 videos) for several singers such as Agam Kumar Nigam, Adnan Sami, Sukhbir, and many others, which also got great feedback. I gained a lot of practical knowledge via these directing stints which made me tougher, helping me to fine tune my skills and made me more eager to do other projects. It was then that I started scripting Yaariyan. The casting of the film was a tedious, lengthy task but I guess nothing comes easy. The hard work I contributed towards my directorial venture finally paid off and I am still reeling from the success of the film. I am grateful to my audience as well as God for the same.
Now that the movie is a mega hit, any plans for directing the next one?
My next directorial venture is Sanam Re, starring Rishi Kapoor, Yami Gautam and Pulkit Samrat. We have already commenced the shooting of the film and we will release it on Valentine’s Day 2016. The fun and exciting part about this project is that it is a completely different genre from Yaariyan and therefore is a new and challenging task!
You are known for your impeccable,elegant style. How important is it for you to be well turned out? Who is your inspiration? And what is your style mantra?
Thank you, however, I don’t really follow a particular code of dressing. Being well turned out is mandatory and not only for us celebrities but for anyone. They say the first impression is the last impression and dressing well is a must. If you are comfortable in your style then all eyes will be on you regardless of whether you wear a burlap sack or a designer ensemble. My style mantra is to be comfortable in one’s skin and feel good about oneself. I don’t have an inspiration as such but I would attribute my style and confidence to the several years of modelling as well as grooming the actors of Yaariyan. It gave me the confidence to pull off edgy and risky
outfits with grace and poise.
How important is accessorising for you? Do you like jewellery? If yes, which kind?
I absolutely love jewellery. On a day-to-day basis, I tend to go minimalistic with my accessories and jewellery, preferring to wear only my favourite ring. Accessorising is important to give that extra oomph to
your outfit but it should be in sync with the occasion. For example, for a party I would probably wear a statement neckpiece or a cocktail ring. Whereas for a family function or a wedding, I would wear something elaborate since it is the only time you can wear heavy jewellery. Wearing excess jewellery for a party or work and absolutely minimal accessories for an elaborate function is a mistake quite a few people make!
When did you buy your first piece of jewellery? And what was it?
My first acquisition in terms of jewellery was my wedding set. I had gone several times along with my parents to various jewellers and after much deliberation, narrowed down on the most gorgeous set for my special day. It was a stunning jadau piece with uncut diamonds set in a neckpiece, maang tikka, nath and earrings. A bride’s wedding ensemble is her most cherished possession and mine was even more special since it was the first time I bought jewellery with my own earnings.
Do you have any heirlooms that you cherish? If yes, could you describe them?
My parents gifted me a pair of kadas on my wedding day among other pieces. The bangles are intricately carved and extremely delicate. My mother had said when gifting me the kadas that I was supposed to pass these on to her grandchild. This is my one and only heirloom which I am very fond of and will treasure for as long as it is with me, until I pass it on to my son Ruhaan’s wife…
Are you fond of Indian jewellery motifs or prefer contemporary styling? Any jewellery designers (Indian or global) that you like in particular?
I absolutely adore Indian attire and jewellery but I also tend to tilt towards contemporary items from time to time, especially in pearls! The best part about pearls is that you can pair it with jeans and a tee and transform your look from casual to classy easily. So I guess my tastes for
Indian and contemporary jewellery vary based on the outfit that I am wearing or the occasion.
One Indian jewellery designer whose work is simply gorgeous is my friend Farah Khan Ali. I have a few of her pieces kept away for special occasions, which includes a diamond and pearl set, which is breathtaking and one of
Any piece of jewellery that you feel attached to and won’t part with?
Yes, I have this one item which I am extremely attached to. It is a ring which was gifted to me by my husband Bhushan on the birth of our son Ruhaan. It is by far the most special gift as well as a piece of jewellery I possess from my adoring husband, who is the apple of my eye!
Any jewellery styling tips for today’s young women?
I have noticed that matha pattis are doing the rounds in terms of fashionable accessories. Initially, only brides used to don this beautiful ornament, but now there are lots of variations available for a non-bride too. I love this ornament since it reduces the need of wearing any other form of jewellery. A piece of advice, if you love wearing head gear, please
make sure not to overdo it by donning other accessories – stick to a nice ring or a watch.
Are you a diamond or gold person? Any favourite types of jewellery like jadau, diamond jewellery or temple jewellery?
I am 100% a diamond person. Gold jewellery is generally slightly heavier and is not my style. I am a fashion minimalist and diamonds help me to achieve that look.
Additionally, I love Jaipur and Rajasthani traditional jadau pieces. Jadau and temple jewellery are extremely classy, and I also buy such pieces. A nice Kanjeevaram saree teamed with temple jewellery looks positively gorgeous!
Anything else you may wish to add.
We are all extremely lucky to be born as Indian women. Being Indian, we have the advantage of wearing stunning, handcrafted sets for any and every occasion. Right from diamonds to pearls or jadau to gold, Indian women can pull off anything – thanks to our traditional attire. We have talented jewellery craftsmen and lovely, colourful textiles and ensembles, which just make everything we wear look absolutely exquisite!