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Fashion designer

“At 22, I was already the mother of a one-year-old daughter,” says Neeta Lulla.

Where have you been in terms of your career?

I was already working with Juhi Chawla and Sridevi. I was insanely busy with a lot of actors.

It was a roller coaster ride because I was also married and had two children; my daughter was born when I was 21. Fortunately, I was able to attend both as my workshop was one of my rooms at home. I started with a machine; but at 22 I was three.

Neeta poses in her precious midnight blue saree given by her mother

What was your bank balance?

I invested all the money I made into the clothes I made as a fashion designer. My bank balance has been the amazing response to my job.

With Aishwarya Rai while filming a song for Jeans in Egypt in the 90s
With Aishwarya Rai while filming a song for Jeans in Egypt in the 90s

What about your relationship status?

There was romanticism in my life. The beauty of being married into a supportive family was that my in-laws took such good care of my children.

Crowned Mrs. St. Anne's Secunderabad in farewell to school with teacher Mrs. D'Souza and principal Sister Mary
Crowned Mrs. St. Anne’s Secunderabad in farewell to school with teacher Mrs. D’Souza and principal Sister Mary

Which senior actors would you like to have styled?

Madhubala and Vyjayanthimala because they were the epitome of beauty. The style of Vyjayanthimala in Amrapali always stayed with me.

(At her wedding reception with Dr Shyam Lulla
(At her wedding reception with Dr Shyam Lulla

What was your goal in life then?

Work and family. I did several missions with different actors, so I had to perform several tasks: explaining to tailors, draping outfits, buying fabrics, doing my accounts and being on the sets. And there were no cell phones or pagers. If it was urgent, you would stop your car to make a phone call!

In addition, I had to meet the needs of my children and sometimes help them with their homework. My husband and I were leaving Mumbai with them for the holidays.

In Panchgani on vacation with her sister Pooja Jaising, her cousin Amit Chhabria and her daughter Nishka in the 90s
In Panchgani on vacation with her sister Pooja Jaising, her cousin Amit Chhabria and her daughter Nishka in the 90s

A fashion from the era that you now watch with fun?

Balloon skirts. Everyone wore them but they didn’t agree with my sensitivity.

Give Juhi a Last Minute Touch for a Movie Magazine Photoshoot
Give Juhi a Last Minute Touch for a Movie Magazine Photoshoot

What was your fashion sense?

Very weird. There was a lot of power dressing, a lot of boots. My fashion idols were Cyndi Lauper and Madonna, so the styles I wore were very edgy: a saree with a denim jacket and boots or pants with a dupatta draped like a sari.

With her newborn baby, Siddharth
With her newborn baby, Siddharth

A memorable experience with a star?

My biggest dream in college was to design for Sridevi. When I was 22, I had started working with her and she really taught me a lot. Her reference for colors would be – to give you an example – a fresh green leaf that she had spotted during a shoot. When you saw the result on the screen, that would be absolutely correct. I urgently had to make her a white outfit for a Tandav sequence. I went completely crazy buying all kinds of whites and didn’t realize I had combined four different color gradients. No one other than Sridevi could spot him. She was very upset. I respect Sridevi; she was one of my best gurus.

From Brunch HT, September 19, 2021

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Hazel J. Edmonds

The author Hazel J. Edmonds

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