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Pallavi Jaikishan's memories

Her couture list includes the who's who of the jet- setting crowds. She designed the bridal trousseau for the likes of Sheetal Mafatlal, veteran actress Mumtaz and her creations find favour with Prime Ministers and Presidents of various countries. An heiress, wife of the late music director Jaikishen, a doing grand-mom - fashion designer Pallavi Jaikishen 's life has come a full circle. An insight on the ups and downs in her life ...
THE WORLD OF Pallavi Jaikishen
She was nicknamed "The Temptress". At 16, Pallavi was the envy of the girls who came to swim at the NSCI pool in South Mumbai. The guys drooled when she swan dived into the water; her figure would have made Mallika Sherawat run to a plastic surgeon for enhancement.
He was the handsome, muscular, aquatic champion and women swooned over him. But he had eyes only for Pallavi. She was born with a proverbial golden spoon and lived in a mansion at Haji Ali while he came from the by-lanes of Girgaum. Time and distance separated them and they both moved on. He fondly recalled it as 'puppy love' and she dismissed it as 'a wild flirtation'.
Young, headstrong and pretty, Pallavi at 18, was the eldest among two sisters and one brother, she hailed from the famous house of Mariwalas, who market brands like Saffola, Parachute Hair Oil, Sweekar Cooking Oil, Mediker Shampoo and many more. Known as the toast of the high society, Pallavi Mariwala had the world at her feet and even eligible men vying for her attention.

As in a stereotype Hindi film, the heiress of Marico Industries eloped to marry her prince charming, the famous music director Jaikishen from the Shankar - Jaikishen duo. Their romance had all the ingredients of a masala potboiler. The doe-eyed Kutchi beauty first met the handsome Punjabi (!) at the CCI club, Mumbai. Reminisces Pallavi, "It wasn't love at first sight. In those days CCI had an old world charm of its own and I used to go out with my friends at the club to watch cricket. He (Jaikishen) also was a frequent visitor at the club. Before knowing him personally, we all were a great fan of his music. This lead to conversations between both of us and he started hanging around at our table. "What started as an informal friendship on both parts blossomed into full- fledged love that defied the standard norms of those times. Besides being a fan of his, Pallavi was swept by Jaikishen 's charm. "He used to sing for me and was a total charmer. That aside he was a very good human being". But sustaining a relationship was not easy as Jaikishen was busy with his recordings and music compositions while Pallavi was busy preparing for her intermediate exams. Avers Pallavi,"I was studying arts at Elphinstone College that time but we used to make it a point to meet at least every alternate day for a cup of coffee." After several cups of coffee at the famous hang-out place Gaylords, the couple during their eight months of courtship decided to tie the knot. Pallavi 's family opposed the match fiercely as their daughter of 17 was in love with a man who was 14-15 years older than her. "The reason for my family's reluctance was because he belonged to the film fraternity besides the fact that he was much older to me and my parents thought that he was not the right man for me," avers Pallavi. In those days people from the film world were looked down upon and irrespective of their wealth were not included in the elite class. The mere thought of an influential south Mumbai family girl mingling with the filmi crowd was unheard of and was considered below class. Remembers Pallavi, "There was a time then I was not allowed to go out of the house, many restrictions were imposed on me."For a girl who had always led a sheltered and cocooned life and who represented one of the most well- known families of its time, going against her family's wishes was not an easy task. Agrees Pallavi, "It took lots of courage and guts on my part to take that final step. But then I loved him so much that I knew the only way to be with him was marrying him against my family's wishes." In the end love conquered all and at the tender age of 18, Pallavi eloped to marry the man of her dreams. Naturally, their marriage didn't find favour with the Mariwala family and they severed all ties with her, their relation eventually resumed after some years of Pallavi 's marriage. From leading a cushioned life to being the wife of the most sought after musician, Pallavi 's life was transfromed completely. "Wherever we went, we were mobbed by autograph seekers and the media. "After being sheltered from the prying eyes of the media since childhood, the sudden adulation of fans, particularly female fans, was a bit unnerving for Pallavi but she accepted it as a part of her life "Who wouldn't like the adulation? Every wife would be insecure of the women surrounding her husband but I knew he loved me and that's what mattered," says Pallavi. She was happy playing the role of the ideal wife and mother to her three children - Chetan, Yogesh and Bhairavi, when tragedy struck. On 12th September 1971 the golden era of Indian music ended with the untimely demise of Jaikishen. It's been more than 32 years since Jaikishen passed away but the feeling of loss and pain still lingers fresh in her memories. "After eight years and twelve days of our marriage, he passed away. My youngest child Bhairavi was just four and a half when it happened," states Pallavi. The suddenness of his death shattered Pallavi and the first few months after Jaikishen 's death are a blur. "I had no idea which way to turn. It was so lonely. The first few months I didn't know where I was. I couldn't come to terms with the fact that he is no more." Even the industry people deserted her except for few of Jaikishen 's friends like Raj Kapoor and singer Mukesh. "Rajji and his wife Krishnaji were very supportive. I am still close to the Kapoors. Rajji was my rakhi brother, I used to tie rakhi to him. Even Mukeshji's family was there for me. Not everyone whom Jaikishen knew was there for her. Some severed relationship with her immediately after Jaikishen's death. Pallavi cites an instance,"There was a lady, who when my husband was alive, was at my beck and call. If I called her at 2.00 in the night and told her to get me a falooda, she would do it. Just after 13 days of his demise the lady came up to me and said, 'Ab aapke husband nahin rahe to aapse rishta kum ho jayega. Aapse rishta toh aapke husband ke wajah se tha (now that your husband is no more our relationship won't be that close).' After that she didn't even call me." The snub she received from other 'so called' friends is still vivid in her mind. Pallavi states, "My husband was a kind-hearted man. Anyone with a sob story would never go unhappy from his door and people took advantage of this. The money he gave to people was never returned to him and neither to me. Even today people owe me money." The cold shoulder treatment from people has left a bitter taste in her mouth. This is one of the reasons that even after attaining dizzying height of success, Pallavi never ventured into the big bad world of Bollywood. But inspite of all the hurt and pain caused to her, life moved on. "I understood it was how the world works and I knew I had to make my mark in this world. Today, I thank god that I had to go through it all. It has made me a very strong person." The main factor which motivated Pallavi were her childern who compelled her to take stock of her life. "Life at that time did not hold any meaning for me. I used to cry a lot and most of the time was spent in memories of the past. When my children came from school they used to see me crying and it affected them. I couldn't allow that to happen and I told myself that I just can't wallow in self- pity. I might be hurting inside but for my kids I have to put up a strong front. My husband was alive, the house used to be a mela with room full of people - producers, directors sitting late in the night. but after him there was a vacuum. my children couldn't understand the emptiness that surrounded the house and I didn't know how to explain it to them." says Pallavi. The period after Jaikishen's death saw Pallavi evolve as a person and as one of the most sought after designers in India, even internationally. But before that Pallavi had many demons of her own to slay."Those were rough times but I loved my children a lot and I wanted them to lead a normal life like any other kids. Therefore, I decided to gather the loose threads of my life." Pallavi decided to become a designer out of choice. "My husband left me with enough money. But you can't eat from just one pie all your life, if you want to maintain your standard of living. Besides I always wanted to become a designer." Her mother and mother-in-law supported her decision completely. Asserts Pallavi, "My family was always there for me especially my mother. Even my mother-in-law was wise way beyond her years. Although she came from the village, she had a liberal mind. Between the two of them they supported me immensely and of course, God was always on my side." Pallavi is very religious and believes in astrology and numerology, besides her intuitive powers are great. "I fast every Monday and Tuesday. Ialso visit the Siddhivinayak temple every Tuesday just to thank god for being so kind to me." For a person who never had any formal training in the art of designing clothes, Pallavi 's success story reflects her hard-work and determination. Her instincts and the art that she imbibed from her mother helped her establish herself as a renowned designer. "It was a custom in my family that after tea or in the afternoons, the women of the household would sit together and make beaded bags or do embroidery. It was a tradition of sorts. I used to assist my mother and my grandmother in making such stuffs, due to which I got the hang of it." What was learnt as a mere hobby became a full-fledged business and today Pallavi Jaikishen's creations have great demand even in international markets.
In the first few years, Pallavi conducted her business from home."I converted a part of my house into a factory as I wanted to be near my children. It was only after my children grew up a bit that I decided to expand my business." Although looking after her budding business and her children was not easy, Pallavi managed to do both very sucessfully. Says Pallavi,"I could manage both because God has blessed me with very good kids. Besides the usual mischief that children tend to do, my kids never really troubled me."She was a one-woman show in her business and never approached the Mariwala family for any kind of help. Even after being widowed at a young age, Pallavi never considered the option to re- marry. Clarifies Pallavi,"I never throught of re- marrying as an option to end loneliness as it would have been very dicey. Besides, I was not sure how my kids would have reacted to it and how I would have handled it. "Instead Pallavi immersed herself in her work and kids and in her spare time started hanging around with friends and pursuing her hobby - cooking, "I love cooking. Although I am a vegetarian I cook non-veg too."
Collecting cookery books from all over the world and trying out recipes is a passion with Pallavi. No wonder, then her collection includes books from as far off places as Istanbul, Lebanon and Morocco. Besides cooking, Pallavi is an avid art and antique ...
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