There's a certain tranquil vibe which Nawaz Modi Singhania exudes that is rare to find in our otherwise clichéd social set. Calm, composed and affable - she is chatty and warm as I meet her in her South Mumbai pad located on a leafy patch. Effortless style - that's the phrase which comes to my mind instantly. She doesn't wear brands, collects artworks of artists who may not be the 'it' artists by certain standards and is passionate about the work she does. "I'm not a branded person at all. I don't appreciate brands. I don't like the feeling of being in a million bucks and looking like rags myself. I prefer wearing rags and looking like a million bucks. You will never really catch me in brands at all. My style is very individual to me and it doesn't change as per the seasons," says she matter-of-factly.
As a child she was very weak and therefore felt the need to do something about that. From the age of 21 she's been in the fitness industry. As soon as she finished her BA, she made a successful foray with Body Art Fitness Studio. "It's always a balance of correct eating and correct exercise. With age it gets harder, our BMR slows down and having the same levels of fitness takes more work but with age comes maturity and fitness also and more self control so you manage it," quips the lady, who's been in the health industry for 23 years with dance fitness.
Root of my artistic expression
"I've been doing this more seriously for the last eight years ever since my first daughter was born. After she was born, I was stuck in the house for a long period of time and I took to exploring art in the sense now that you see it. I have always been creative. I have always been more about the right side of the brain so for me it's been about music, craft, movement and dance, sketching, needlework and embroidery. I did my first show in 2008. From there, I've always veered towards portraits, anatomy, physiology," she shares.
Avid art collector
"Whenever I'm viewing or working on art, I view myself as 50 per cent of an artist and 50 per cent collector. I always had multifaceted views on the art world. Generally, I love the genre of 3 D art - it's very eclectic, interesting and electric. It's out there. It brings things to life and form. It's very vibrant. It's new age and a movement away from the canvas."
Work life balance
"I thoroughly enjoy my life. In terms of work, I'm involved with both fitness and art. I'm also involved with my husband's company. While I do all of this hands on and being a mother, I also take a lot of time to travel, be with my friends, read, movies. I think it's a fantastic balance."
Travel nourishes me
"When I travel, I explore a lot of museums, galleries, even private galleries etc because it always expands your mind, however, I don't imbibe or inculcate any of that. Because then you lose your individuality. What's the point of mimicking somebody else? At the same time, I like to maintain a distance because I don't like things to get under my skin. I'm careful about that balance I maintain. When I'm in Europe I always try to catch the great Masters. They way they thought and they put it across was fantastic. So you can appreciate that."
Nawaz and Gautam travel a lot and they just got back from their fave travel hotspot - Bali. "The reason why it's one of my fave places is because that's where I said yes to marrying my husband. Since that was in Bali, our house in Alibaug is also created in Balinese style. It's very special to us. We love the place and the atmosphere and we took our kids there for the first time," says she with a smile.
Flirtation with jewellery
"The collaboration had more to do with art than jewellery. Poonam Soni approached me and asked me if around my paintings I gave her miniatures, she'd come up with fantastic designs and I said yes. We still do that and the response has been great in India and internationally. We do a lot of handcuffs."
Gautam and I
"We always bounce things off each other. He often asks my opinion about things happening at work. We often give each other angles which haven't been explored otherwise. We learn from each other more by the process of osmosis. Being around each other, we've become like each other in that sense. Not drawing from each other specifically. He used to give me a lot more criticism on my work previously but not so much anymore because I guess with time I'm more and more established. So I'm not seeking it, he's not offering it sort of a thing. He's very supportive of what I do. It'll stay at that level," she shares.
Evolved as a person
"I've changed a lot. I have grown up. I have become a lot of more mature, hardy, capable, confident. I think I have become a lot more patient, tolerant, also kinder, more loving, just easier. It's fulfilled me. I just feel very complete with it. My personality is such that I tend to find the good in the worst of people. In the worst of situations, I don't see the clouds I see a big fat silver lining. I'm very positive. That applies wherever I go. That's a given."
My take on the art world
"I often go for art events. I love this artist Prakash Ghatge, who you may not have heard much about, I always follow his works. I recently went to his show and picked up a couple of works. Bikash Bhattacharya - love the darkness in his work and the play of shadows. Also Jehangir Sabavala."
Future of Indian art
"Art over a period of time is going to get functional. It will not just be on your walls. It's going to be on the sofa you're sitting on. It's going to be a lot more part of your life and your home and objects. Installation art has taken that step in that direction, which is really nice; when you blend into your own world and not keep it separate."
"Most of the times my inspiration comes to me bang without me looking for it. I just know it. There was one time, I was working on a series (10 to 12 pieces were ready) for quite a while before I decided that it's not working for me and I hated it. Sometimes you are stuck for inspiration and you don't find it in certain place. No art is ever original. Even a line or a dot is not original," she says.
"There was a time when I didn't enjoy socialising and preferred being with my friends. But over a period of time, I've grown up. I think that also comes with self confidence and age and you feel like a citizen of the world. You don't feel like to be caged."
"That's more my husband and I go along with it. Very often I am a part of it. Very often I am not. So it depends - occasion to occasion. In Gautam's system, he has people who do it very well so I don't feel the need to get into it. However, many a times, I take over and do it myself. There was a funny incident when we got married, that was 15 years ago, his man Friday a guy called Raju felt he shouldn't upstage me and should make me feel that I was the woman of the house. So when we were having a party he unusually came up to me and said, "Itne log hain, kya banaye?" Normally he wouldn't ask me and he would do what he felt like so I turned around and matter-of-factly said, 'jo man mein aaye karo.' So he was quite taken aback. My take on it is, if somebody is doing a better job then why should I have a complex and stick my nose into it? Why involve myself with washing dishes when I can do better things with my life?" she laughs.
Moves like Jagger
"Recently, my husband was seeing my works and suddenly he sees the Mick Jagger in charcoal and he says, 'I'm meeting him over the weekend, going to his concert in Singapore.' I said, 'Why are you not taking me?' he said, 'I am only going with the boys.' I said, 'that's not on I'm coming.' I went along and there were a few girls as well so it was fine. It was a fantastic concert. A day or two later, his girlfriend (L'wren Scott) ended up killing herself, so he cancelled the rest of the tour."
"I was thrilled to see him. He's 70 years old. His waist is thin and he moves like a God. The way he was moving around, my friends and I were like 'Grand pa slow down, you'll crack a hip or something.' He had high energy, high level of stamina and fitness. This guy has never let the thought enter his head that he might be ageing. You know what, that's why it's not transcended into the body," she observes.