I was meeting my old school pal Swati Singh after more than a decade. But I don’t know why sitting by the window of Café Coffee Day on Ekdalia I was filled with anticipation. Maybe this was because the Swati I knew was one of the prettiest girls in our school, she was a great dancer, a superb singer and a fantastic painter and I was waiting to see how she’d turned out after so many years.
Swati was working as an assistant designer with Sabysachi Mukherjee, the man who probably commands the highest price in India when it comes to his creations, and gets away with it too.
But during our conversation over the phone when we were planning our meet Swati told me, “I have quit!”
“I will tell you when we meet,” was all she said.
I waited for Swati looking out for her red Maruti, the car in which we had travelled to so many movies, birthday parties and luncheons, not realizing that it probably hadn’t stood the test of time.
Swati emerged from a white car in a bang-on-trend black and white striped maxi dress looking like a dream. When it came to complimenting her I did not know where to start and where to end.
“It’s all make-up yaar. If I want to convince others to hire me as a make-up artist the first thing I should show them is my own make-up, right?”
She told me she wanted to start off as a make-up artist on her own so she tossed up her four-year-old job with Sabyasachi that involved overseeing the production at his Topsia workshop and ensuring that each piece met the standards he had set.
“It was a wonderful experience, I learned a lot and I am grateful to Sabyasachi for giving me this opportunity but I wanted to pursue my own creativity.”
While she was excelling at her work at Sabyasachi’s workshop, her personal life was all about dealing with ups and downs. Being in an unhappy marriage for several years and later on dealing with the consequences of a separation was draining for Swati. But she believed in fighting it out.
“I knew that I had to start my life from scratch. I had to stand on my own feet, I had to move on. So many times I was on the verge of having an emotional and physical breakdown but I didn’t give up. While dealing with the mental trauma of a disturbed personal life I struggled to keep my creativity alive…”
She’s taken a professional make-up and hair styling course at the Marvie Ann Beck Make-up and Hair Academy in Mumbai and she is all set to step into the glamour world as a make-up artist. Swati’s also got back to painting, something she always wanted to do but never had time for because of her busy schedule and she is selling her work through her Facebook page which she has aptly named Colours of Hope.
“I know I am setting foot in a tough profession as a make-up artist because here nothing but word-of-mouth publicity will work for me and it won’t be easy but we have only one life and I don’t want to live with any regrets. It’s never too late to pursue your dreams,” she said with conviction.
She is starting off with bridal and party make-up but she wants to test her creativity with photo shoots and ramp styling too.
“I am taking one step at a time. I don’t want to rush things. There are some well-known make-up artistes in Kolkata and I respect the work they are doing. I hope and believe I will be able to make a space for myself here,” she said.
When I left CCD that day I kept thinking of the Swati I knew – a talented girl bordering on the shy sometimes, who never believed in breaking any rules and I thought of the Swati now – brimming with confidence, not afraid to live her dream.
Life has put her through the tests but she has transformed her negative experiences to emerge a positive person. She has mustered the courage to be what she wants to be. I couldn’t help but admire her for that.
Some quick questions I asked Swati and here’s what she said:
What’s the biggest make-up mistake we all make? Not blending the blush-on well which makes it look patchy and also neglecting the neck while applying the foundation only on the face.
One make-up item that can alter your looks drastically…..A well defined kajal or eye liner
A quick fix for unruly hair…Hair pulled back and tied into a tight ponytail at the centre or on one side of the neck. Taking small sections of the loose hair, twist and pin up forming a messy bun. Spray hair fixer generously. It looks very chic and works with every look.
A Bollywood actress you want to work with…Kangana Ranaut
A Tollywood actress you want to work with…Swastika Mukherjee
A model you want to work with…Noyonika Chatterjee
A challenge you want to take up…Life is full of challenges but the biggest and toughest challenge is to ‘maintain your smile’ at all times. I just want to keep smiling.