It’s hard or rather unfair to bracket this femme fatale in one category. Like the different roles she so seamlessly essays — singer, actor, writer, and now a fashion designer — her personal style too, is a collage of many influences. Monica Dogra reminds me of a multi-layered Cubist painting as I meet her at a coffee shop in Bandra. Her textured, highlighted hair is carelessly undone. The Bombay Electric addict has opted for a kitschy top, vintage style sunglasses (both picked from Colaba causeway), a pair of denim shorts (which are 12-year-old and which she cut herself) and Forever 21 patent lace-ups for this interview meeting.
The new fashion line
Over the years people have either loved what she wears or they have hated it. Recently, her admirer and friend Anjana Sharma (COO and fashion director of Stylista.com) approached her to come up with a designer line to be retailed from her website. This line is basically a reflection of Dogra’s closet, which she has redesigned and re-imagined. “It reflects female independence. It’s rock and roll, very street. It’s for the girls who go to rock concerts, know their culture and are well travelled,” says Monica. She feels that style, music, films — are all interconnected.
“Boho. Rocker. Chic. A bit androgynous.” She admires Masaba Gupta, Manish Arora, Bhane, Huemn and Bodice. “When Dhobi Ghat released, Kiran Rao was like, ‘don’t dress up and do your hair. You are amazing as you are with your hippy hair and combat boots.’ All the papers started writing how I looked grungy and I didn’t know how to wash my hair. This over-manicured look which every actress has — I find it quite boring.”
Evolution of audience for alternative music
When I came to India, there was no infrastructure for non-Bollywood music. “Now you have shows like The Dewarists, Coke Studio and Sound Trek. and many music festivals. It was never our goal to change Bollywood music but to create space for non-film music. Now that’s been created and what’s happening is — Bollywood is reaching out to us to make music for them. When you have an identity then you’re truly an artiste.”
“I am doing a film with Vivaan Shah and Naseer [Naseeruddin Shah] sir. It’s a semi-biopic film, about the underworld in the ’8os. I’m the only female character in the film. I play a troubled soul,” she laughs. Her other film Fireflies with Rahul Khanna and Arjun Mathur has created a lot of buzz too.
New solo album
“I, for many years, wanted to sit with myself with no agenda, put out something, which is purely me. The reason being — I’ve been pushed and pulled in many different directions. I’ve collaborated on many other people’s albums. For two years, I’ve been working on Shaa’ir By Monica Dogra in all my free space. I have collaborated with Gaurav Raina from Midival Punditz and Prashant from Engine-earz, a UK-based band. Inadvertently, it became dance-y which is great even though it’s very acoustic and organic. I am just that sort of a person. Even though it is electronic, it is very minimal and cinematic,” she concludes.