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Naaree Interviews Priya Wagh Of MavenChic

Mavenchic aims to be India’s first platform to provide Image Makeover services through digital media, to women from all lifestyles – from corporate to business women to homemakers to college going students – for every woman who wants to flaunt their image with confidence and stand out in a crowd. caught up with Co-Founder, Priya Wagh Of MavenChic to learn her secrets of success.

Priya Wagh Mavenchic


• What is MavenChic about? What products or services do you offer?

We introduced the services of image makeover packages online where women can just login to their website and opt for image makeover packages at an extremely affordable price to transform themselves into the authentic and attractive persona they would love to portray.

We tied up with pan India Image Consultants, who are certified both nationally and internationally. We also have offline detailed packages like personal shopping, wardrobe management, bridal services.

We had this great idea to educate women on fashion and how to wear the right clothes on the right occasion, how to wear clothes that flaunt their body shape instead of being conscious about it.

We also teach women how to wear colors that reinforce their personal colors and make them look the most impressive, attractive and, most importantly, authentic, how to wear correct makeup, as per their personal colors, and how to create a perfect hairdo in less time.

Mavenchic is also an Ecommerce Fashion cum Advisory website which also specializes in selling Jackets, Coats, Blazers i.e. third layer of clothing online only for women which are recommended as per their customers personalized body type, personal coloring, personal style, occasion and latest fashion trends.

For personalized jacket selections, the client has to answer 4 to 5 questions, such as the occasion for which she wants to wear the jacket, her body shape, her eyes, skin and hair colors and her height, after which we have beautiful jackets to suit her, thrown up by the algorithm. This is a scientific approach and we have designed an algorithm that works perfectly for every woman.

We believe that women should understand that they don’t have figure “problems” but figure “variations” and if they wear the right clothes as per body shape and personal colors they are bound to look wonderful and attractive. Mavenchic have developed an algorithm to offer jackets or third layer ‘personalized and customized’ for the individual.

• What inspired to become an entrepreneur? Did you always love it or was it something you got into?

Having done my Engineering in Electronics and MBA in Finance, I landed up in a job which was in a different industry like most of us.

It was exciting and thrilling since it was my first job and campus recruits are always paid good enough to lure the employees. Though I was doing good numbers and was a star performer in my organization, the expected growth didn’t happen to me for a long time.

I was in a Sales and Marketing job for 6 years and sticking to achieving my targets everyday and building up strategies for myself and my team to excel had become a habit.

Though my job didn’t motivate me to stay there for long, but it helped me develop 3 most important skills – perseverance, aggression and passion. I understood my target audience exactly and knew how to market a product in whatever industry I am put into.

While I was working and leading a team, I somehow felt that being the best doesn’t help unless you’re passionate about the work you’re doing. I used to always wonder, somewhere down in my heart whether I was putting the zeal and passion I have in the right place.

I felt somewhere that I have to do something different and unique. And I finally I got this opportunity to discover my true inner sense when I took a sabbatical for my pregnancy.

During my long career break of 2 years, I thought that I can take up some course or do something part-time instead of just sitting idle. And great opportunities always come your way, you just have to keep your eyes open. That was my first step towards becoming an entrepreneur.

My business cum life partner, my husband, Bhalchandra, showed me an article on image management, by a leading institute, ICBI, in the Times of India, and suggested that I take it up as a business opportunity.

I was more than excited to take up the course as it was a business partnership course. That was my first step towards becoming an entrepreneur and first step towards entering the world of fashion. For the first time I had taken up something by MY CHOICE and I was so happy and thrilled about it.

• When do you know that it is no longer just an idea in your mind, and that you can really turn it into a lucrative business?

As I was taking up this full time course, I used to constantly think what next after finishing this course. What ICBI was offering as a business partnership was that they take consultants as trainers in their institute. And secondly consultants can also start their personal ventures where they can start their own 1 to 1 consultations and trainings with individuals and corporate.

By this time I was convinced that the scope is huge, and business opportunities are unlimited. But the market created by these consultants is niche, as image consultants charge very high rates. So it would not be affordable for the masses to use the service and feel the image makeover difference.

That made me think again that I had to do something different and unique. Something which would reach the masses, become convenient and economical for today’s women who is continuously on the go and multi tasking, managing home, family and work.

I always believed that I have to take up something related to woman empowerment and change the way woman perceive themselves. I always wanted to help a woman who is conscious about herself transform into the confident and beautiful looking person she is.

And the idea of Mavenchic developed when I was just in my 5th session of training. I started thinking of getting this image makeover concept online and reach every women of today who thinks she is different and unique and needs to look that way.

Priya Wagh Of MavenChicI have always believed that “a woman should not work hard to look good. She should look good in whatever she wears.” Every woman has the right to look her best all the times and carrying the right image creates the first ever-lasting beautiful impression that you are simply gorgeous!

So as I was pursuing my certification, I was also working on my website. And this was possible because of the constant support and motivation of my husband. We started Mavenchic – an expert who knows everything about fashion.

With online shopping growing in leaps and bounds, we believe that shopping has to be convenient and also value added. A woman should be happy about what she has bought and come back for further purchases.

It’s easier to convince consumer to buy discounted stuff, but with so many options it becomes difficult to buy the right thing. We want to be leaders in this industry and drive consumers to make every purchase thoughtfully and rightly only through Mavenchic.

I felt that if I tap into this niche market, it is definitely going to be lucrative, as we can stand out completely from our competitors. We are not just selling fashion, but we are also tapping into the emotions that trigger a woman to buy a product and look unique.

• What inspired you to start out on your own or with your partners? What learning lessons can you share from your startup experience?

The initial work along with the idea conceptualizing the setup and creating the name and registering the company was done by me, under the support and guidance of my husband, Bhalchandra Wagh.

He was working at a senior level in a prestigious organization at that point of time. But he was continuously on board with me with this idea, as he believed in this idea and my efforts and passion to make it big.

Adept at designing strategic solutions to drive sustainable value and create competitive advantage, Bhalchandra is a Mechanical Engineer and MBA (Operations) from Mumbai University. His interests include his love of cricket, food, travel, and Pilates.

After the initial platform was laid, we wanted to take it to next level. To market it aggressively and create a brand. And that’s where he realized that he would have to leave his job to do justice with Mavenchic.

Having worked with giants like IBM, Bayer Crop Science, Unilever, Lenovo and Sanofi Aventis and handling the global team, leaving his full time job which he was passionate about and joining hands with Mavenchic was the toughest decision for him.

But his belief in the concept and his drive to take fashion to a new level has really helped Mavenchic get a headstart. He has been a constant support and inspiration for me.

As business partners, we have different opinions and loads of arguments. But we are glad because our diversity of experience has helped us get better things on the table.

And at the end of day, with a lot of arguments, we have more options to consider and reconsider and take whatever is best for our organizational goal.

• What are some challenges that you faced initially when you started out? Do you have some examples to share and advice to women entrepreneurs on overcoming them?

The most challenging part of being an entrepreneur is to think even in your dreams of how to make your product perfect. To come out of your comfort zone and work for more than 16 hrs. To manage everything yourself right from idea creation to getting your first repeat customer.

It is sometimes stressful as you are investing your own money, time, passion, creativity in short everything. Also I have a small kid named Renisha. She is 4 years old. And the most challenging thing for me is to bring up two babies together: Renisha and Mavenchic.

It’s the most difficult task as both need my time and care equally. Getting support and advice from family helps, especially in looking after kids; the Indian joint family system has some advantages here. Your family believes in your dreams, so trust them, and let them look after your kid when you are not around.

The biggest challenge is finding the right talent to join Mavenchic, people who are equally crazy and passionate like you, who would love to work with you the way you do and who want to see organizational growth happening along with their personal growth.

It’s difficult to be dependent on a third person every time or get things outsourced. We are on a continuous hunt to bridge this gap and develop an in-house creative team and scale up our business.

Priya Wagh Of MavenChic 3We have developed an algorithm which was the most difficult aspect. It is a very unique concept of system showing you the right third layer as per your body shape, personal color, occasion and personal style. Developing this technology was challenging.

Women are good in multi-tasking, creativity and communication, but business success needs attention also to finance, legal and operations as well. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or hire other experts, because as an entrepreneur you have to learn about all these things and know to how manage them. Reach out to mentors, coaches and fellow women entrepreneurs.

Customer acquisition is also challenging as getting the word out about your business and having people pay for your service which is a niche a new concept in market in a scalable way is a bit challenging. Believe in your product and your gut feel. Take pride in yourself that you have developed a unique product, and this will make your product work in the longrun with the right reach.

This is what I would like to tell my fellow women entrepreneurs: Follow your dreams and work passionately, stay motivated, don’t get upset with failures, do better with every failure, work, work and only work.

Create your milestones and be your own competition. There is nothing such as overnight success. Stay focused and don’t give up. And also create a right balance between your work and family…. and of course, have your mentor or your husband always with you in strategizing your thoughts.

• What are all the things that a woman entrepreneur needs to keep in mind? I.e. apart from your great idea, what do you need to be armed with?

Success is not easy; most people have this false perception that when they fail they should take a different path. Everyone wants to be successful, and everyone’s definition of success is different.

Regardless of the definition, the goal is to go from where you are to where you want to be. Obstacles are bound to happen, but don’t get discouraged and lose your enthusiasm.

A woman is blessed with the most important quality of being patient all the time irrespective of whatever obstacle comes: just tackle it. Use this quality as a sword and follow your dream without losing your enthusiasm.

We need to surround ourselves with positive people who are going to help us and guide us. Like for me I had always been motivated by my inspiration, my mentors: my family who never let me down and discouraged my decision. Motivation matters especially when you are in the middle of a career which is a risky proposition altogether.

But she should also remember that it’s her baby, and her decisions matter the most in making it success. Stick to your own decisions as you are the best judge of your company.

There are going to be arguments, clashes with your partner, your family on a particular decision, but stay focused and stick like glue to your decisions. Follow your instincts and it will work wonders for you.

We need to understand that “Success is neither a destination nor an end point; it’s the constant accumulation of the development of you.” And today when I think back I am so overwhelmed by the fact that I have grown so much.

I understand business and how to run it. When you continue to work on yourself and your mindset, you will start to attract better things into your life at every level.

Constantly work on your work ethics, work habits, work timings, work attitude… as everything revolves round work… the harder you work… the better are the chances of you turning into a successful entrepreneur.

You need to be armed with self belief, ambition, passion and confidence that you are going to succeed, come what may.

• Do women entrepreneurs find it tougher to get funding for businesses? If yes, why do you think that is?

It’s a fact. Women do have a harder time getting funding than men. Like I said, there are challenges. Thankfully, though, there are also solutions.

Women have true leadership qualities when it comes to creating revenue and marketing opportunities and taking their ideas have a product and market fit. They have it all – qualities of leadership: teambuilding, partnership building, thoughtful management, and are market savvy.

Much of business involves emotionally connecting with your audience. That’s why women build ideas that emotionally connect with consumers: They are extremely good in professional relation management and create long lasting professional relations with their vendors, suppliers, partners and most importantly consumers.

But despite these facts sometimes it is difficult for a woman to raise funds from VC for few negligent reasons like:

– The “audience” when you’re raising a round of VC funding is, well, men. Women can’t possibly emotionally connect with men as well as other men can.

– VC’S prefer more risk taking companies that can make it or break it in 4 years. They do believe in go big or go home. But women are actually risk averse. They believe that everything works if you sell it in an authentic way and you are bound to succeed by taking slow and steady steps.

– Women get emotionally caught up, and sometimes have difficulty in taking tough decisions. You have to be quick in making dramatic business changes that could impact your employees. Women are emotional and nurturing and for them taking instant decisions of hiring or firing someone is a little tough.

– Work-life balance is important for them as they have to simultaneously run their families and their company. “There are ways to balance your time, but the perception is that you could be more effective running your business if you didn’t have to deal with kids.”

For these reasons, it is little difficult for women to pitch in for funding. But with strong determination, confidence, and belief to leave no stone unturned, a women can rise to any challenge and make it successful.

• Is it beneficial to have a mentor when you’re starting out on your own? What does a mentor bring to the table?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or hire other experts, because as an entrepreneur you have to learn about all these things and know to how manage them. Reach out to mentors, coaches and fellow women entrepreneurs.

Mentoring is not only giving advice, it’s more of a commitment of time and attention that adds value to your organization. It’s difficult to find the right mentor pertaining to your industry. And if you find such a mentor, nothing like it.

As an entrepreneur you are constantly learning, and a mentor can guide you with all the things that take to reach there. They should be on same level of energy and understanding about your product, dreams and aspirations.

Fortunately for me, my brother, Prashant Kirtane, has been a mentor for me. He is a B.E. from VJTI. Having worked as a Director with, he left that prestigious company just to start his own venture, TRAVELMOB – a Singapore based travel company which is the first Indian company to get acquired by Homeaway (largest US-based travel company) in a span of 6 months.

This is truly an inspiration and I am proud to be mentored by him from time to time.

• How did you recruit your first team? How difficult was it to get people on board during the initial stages?

We have launched our company just two months back. And currently we are a team of two co founders and have two team members. Firstly, to handle hiring right talent is the most difficult task and once you find it, there’s nothing like it.

It was difficult for us to take interviews as we had a small office space which was like a co-working space with other entrepreneurs. And convincing the guy you are going to hire to think big, as we want to make it big, was not easy for us.

But fortunately we had the right expertise from our corporate experience of handling big teams, which helped us. Also we had a unique concept to sell with a leveraging technology.

We interviewed almost 20 guys in order to hire our technology team member, but are happy that hard work pays off in every detail that you take care of.

• What are 3 key things that you have learned as an entrepreneur?

Identify your target audience and connect with them in whatever way you can, making everyone you meet believe in your concept, out of box thinking 24×7. Even in your dreams.

• What would you describe as your biggest moments of success in your business?

Success for me is that when my client would say that this service has really made a difference in her life. We are creating a new way of looking at fashion. And for me fashion is about ‘standing out in a crowd, by whatever you wear with confidence’.

It’s not only what you wear, but how you wear it. It’s all in the wearing!

You can visit Priya’s website at

Contact her on her toll free number at 18002700285



How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved

Universal signs of a bad relationship choice can be learned and should be by all women, advocates counselor, Sandra L. Brown, M.A.

Women erroneously think that a dangerous man in a relationship is only a violent man. While the violent man is indeed one of the categories of dangerous men, there are seven others that are often overlooked.

These omitted categories are exactly how women get into dangerous relationships. These lapses in information leave women without the knowledge to respond to the face of dangerousness when he is in their life through a relationship.

Since much of the information about ‘what’ makes a man dangerous has not been taught to women, they do not recognize nor respond to covert dangerousness.

Most women have learned to ignore their red flags during a relationship — their biological response system that tells them that something is not quite right. Our research indicated that 100% of women understand red flags, have red flags, and many of them go on to ignore the very red flags that can alert them to unsafe relationships.

Women sited various reasons for ignoring red flags which included societal training that women should be polite, gender differences that taught them that women are to be hyper-tolerant to less than appealing male behavior, and female role modeling in their childhoods where women in their families tolerated dangerous male behavior in relationships, renamed the behavior to something less threatening, and then stayed.

Overtly lacking in today’s women’s programs are the outright names of dangerous diagnosis, the labelling of specific dangerous behaviours, and the teaching of why dangerousness is not something that can be treated, more less cured.

Most women cannot cite any elements that make a man ‘incurable.’ They don’t understand that the issue of dangerousness is based on a person’s inability to grow or change, in or out of the relationship. And furthermore, they do not know what ‘an inability to grow or change’ looks like or acts like.

No wonder record amounts of women are or have been in as many as four to five dangerous man relationships before they changed their patterns. Often the only reason change came at all was because of extreme violence and subsequent near death injuries. Others were killed in the relationship.

Sadly, once a woman has dated one dangerous man her chances of being in a relationship with more dangerous men dramatically increase. This is because one of the notable side effects of being in a relationship with pathologically dangerous men is that women begin to normalize abnormal behaviour until dangerous men look normal and are the only types of men they date.

Even more shocking, women will adapt their own behaviours in the relationship to the pathologically ill man so that his behaviours are less disturbing to her. This results in the woman mimicking sick behaviour and also learning to tolerate this type of behaviour by increasing her negative coping skills which allow her to deny, justify, minimize or in any other way ignore or discount dangerous behaviour.

Universal signs of a bad relationship choice can be learned and should be by all women. But until recently, the categories and types of dangerous men were known only to the therapists who treated them. The 7th Great Wonder of the World (psychopathology) was undisclosed, unexplained, and never taught to the lay public.

Women’s patterns of perilous relationship selections continued on without the benefit of knowledgeable intervention that included how to spot dangerousness. Girls, teens, and women are all told not to date ‘bad men’ but no one taught them what bad men were or what made them bad.

A woman’s capacity to choose differently is only as effective as the information she has to choose wisely. Women begin to make different relationship selections when they understand the incurableness of some men, what makes them untreatable and unsafe, and how he can impact her long-term quality of life by his own destructive dangerousness.

Women can understand and do respond when they have the information to choose differently in relationships. They also learn to choose differently when they learn to reconnect to the red flags that their bodies are faithful to send them. Information and awareness become powerful tools for healthier relationships and long-term change.

Sandra L. Brown, M.A., is the author of Author of How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get
. It describes 8 Types of Dangerous Men, Gives Defense Strategies and a Red Alert Checklist for Each, and Includes Stories of Successes and Failures.


Emotional Stress Relief: 7 Tips for Healing

Have you experienced trauma, upsetting emotions or overwhelming stress? Do you feel disconnected from people or emotionally numb a lot?


The following 7 tips outline the main areas for beginning healing and recovery from the emotional stress in your life.

  • 1. Embrace Your Feelings

Rather than avoiding and pushing feelings away learn to hold and contain, like holding a baby in your arms, whatever pain you feel.

Be present with the sensations in your body without doing anything. Overtime the feelings will transform, without any effort.

See Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now.

  • 2. Examine Your Critical Self-Talk

Become consciousness of the negative things you say about yourself in your head, over and over.

Become aware of the related events, feelings, the critical self-talk.

Start reprogramming your subconscious mind with positive self-talk.

See Carolyn Ball, Claiming Your Self-Esteem.

  • 3. Begin Codependency Recovery

Become aware of how you give your power away for a temporary boost of self-esteem to feel better.

See Melodie Beattie, Codependent No More.

  • 4. Heal The Wounded Inner Child

We all carry wounds from our childhood, which still affect us.

Our inner child connects to our emotions. When the child heals, we heal.

See John Bradshaw, Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child.

  • 5. Heal The Unconscious Shadow

The negative parts of ourselves, which we avoid, remain buried where they continue adding to our suffering.

Our relationships and life situations mirror these parts back to us daily.

By bringing our shadow parts into the light of our awareness, they can heal and thereby reveal new strengths to us.

See Carl Jung’s writings on the Shadow.

  • 6. Conscious Choice

Choose to become aware of your resistances to life, to your unconscious reactions to say “No.”

Open to divine grace and miracles, which ease suffering like sunshine melting snow.

See Kandis Blakely, Your Body Remembers: A Conscious Choice to Live.

  • 7. Develop Your Strengths/Be Of Service In Your Life Purpose

When we follow our passion in service to others our personal sufferings fall away for we get out of ourselves.

When we rise above our personality selves, our sufferings fall away and grace can enter.

Dan Millman, The Life You Were Born to Live explains our life challenges and areas of service.

When will you start your healing for your emotional stress relief?

Michael David Lawrience is the author of Emotional Health: The Secret from Drama, Trauma, and Pain. His book provides ways for improving emotional health, easing pain and stress, healing physical and emotional abuse, and spiritual awakening. See book on Amazon


10 Inspiring Women In Indian Cinema

Indian women have excelled in the last few decades. No matter which field, Indian women have shown that they can surpass and outshone their counterparts.

Hindi cinema, also referred to as Bollywood, is part of the largest film production in the world. In the last century and this one, Bollywood has produced several show stopping actresses.

Leena Kundnani compiles a list of 10 inspiring women in Indian cinema. 

  • 1. Hema Malini

Also known as the “Dream Girl”, Hema Malini is the iconic, power woman. She is well known for her Hindi films, perhaps the most iconic one being Sholay. She is also remembered as a trendsetter, being one of the first actresses to wear bell bottoms and shirts in Hindi movies.

Hema Malini

Hema Malini is not only an actress but also a producer and a renowned Bharata Natyam dancer and choreographer. Born on 16th October 1948, she was born in the Tamil-speaking Chakravarthy household on in Ammankudi, Tamil Nadu. Her father was V.S.R. Chakravarthy and her mom, Jaya, was a film producer.

Jaya had performed as a dancer in a 1961 regional movie. However she was rejected by a Tamil Director, in the year 1964. However, Hema didn’t give up and eventually debuted opposite legendary showman, Raj Kapoor in ‘Sapnon Ka Saudagar‘ just 4 years after her rejection.

Hema has, since then, starred in nearly 155 movies; produced and directed two movies, and also directed a TV serial ‘Noopur‘. These days she is actively engaged in politics as well.

  • 2. Madhuri Dixit

Madhuri Dixit is perhaps one of the most inspirational and gorgeous female icon Bollywood has ever produced. Born as ‘Madhuri Shankar Dixit’ on 15th May 1967, in Mumbai, Maharashtra, she initially planned to become a microbiologist and attained her Bachelors Degree in Microbiology. While studying, she also trained as a Kathak dancer.

Madhuri shot to fame in the 80’s and 90’s. An all-time favorite, the beautiful actress is best known as the “Dancing Queen of Bollywood”. Besides being an excellent dancer, Madhuri is also a very talented actress who can play different roles with equal ease.

In recognition of her great talent, Dixit has won several Filmfare Awards for Best Actress. She holds the record for the highest number of Best Actress nominations at Filmfare. She also bagged the award for the Most Inspirational Bollywood Icon at the 3rd Annual Bradford Inspirational Women’s Award in the UK.

In 2008, she was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award by the Government of India. Not only is she talented but she also supports various charities such as Goodwill, Sotheby, and Emeralds for Elephants. She is married to Dr. Nene and shuffles between the USA and India.


  • 3. Sridevi

Sridevi hails from Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu, and was born to Ayyapan and Rajeswari on 13 August 1963. She started her career as a child actor in the 1967 in a Tamil movie, ‘Kandhan Karunai‘.

She also starred as a child actress in a Telugu movie ‘Bangarakka‘ in 1977, and in a Malyalam movie ‘Kumara Sambhavan‘ in 1969. She is regarded as one of the greatest and most popular actresses of Hindi Cinema. She is also often cited as “The First Female Superstar of the Indian Cinema”.

She has acted in a diverse range of movies and has an impressive 63 Hindi movies, 62 Telugu movies, 58 Tamil movies and 21 Malyalam movies between the years 1967 through to 2007. She was the only actor, perhaps, who was able to say no to films with Amitabh Bachchan and yet come up trumps.

Besides the big screen, Sridevi has also made her presence felt on the small screen when she appeared in the TV series ‘Malini Iyer‘. She also judged a TV show ‘Kaboom‘ as well as appeared in numerous print and TV ads. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Asian Academy of Film & Television.

Sridevi got married to producer Boney Kapoor, Anil Kapoor’s older brother, on June 2, 1996 and they are now proud parents of two daughters, Jhanvi and Khushi.

  • 4. Sharmila Tagore

Sharmila Tagore is an iconic Bollywood Actress. She was born a Hindu on 8 December 1946, and later converted when she got married to Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi.

Sharmila shot to fame when she starred with Shammi Kapoor in 1964 in the movie Kashmir Ki Kali. She has several more hits under her belt such as An Evening in Paris (1967), again with Shammi.

Sharmila Tagore

That was the first appearance of an Indian actress in a bikini, and it not only shocked conservative Indian audiences but also set off a new trend of more Indian actresses, such as Zeenat Aman and Dimple, shedding their inhibition and appearing in bikinis.

Sharmila is the proud winner of the National Film Awards and Filmfare Awards for her performances. She was also part of the Indian Film Censor Board from October 2004 till March 2011.

  • 5. Rekha

Rekha was born on 10 October 1954 in Chennai to Tamil actor, Gemini Ganesan, and Telugu actress, Pushpavalli. Having acted in over 180 films in a career spanning over 40 years, Rekha has also done several arthouse films and played the role of strong female characters.

Rekha in Umrao Jaan

Her portrayal of a classical courtesan in Umrao Jaan (1981) is still remembered and also won her the National Film Award for Best Actress. She is also known for her role in Khubsoorat (1980), Khoon Bhari Maang (1988) and Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi (1996).

  • 6. Madhubala

Madhubala was born as Mumtaz Jahan Begum Dehlavi in New Delhi, on 14 February 1933. She hailed from a conservative Muslim family and was the fifth child among eleven children. She was regarded as one of the most beautiful film stars and is sometimes still considered as someone with unparalleled beauty.

Madhubala in Mughal e Azam

She shot to fame with the movie Mahal, and later starred in several successful movies in the 1950s and early 1960s. It was the film Mughal-e-Azam that marked what many consider to be her greatest and definitive characterization as the doomed courtesan Anarkali.

Madhubala became one of the most sought-after actresses in India, and also attracted attention from Hollywood.

  • 7. Mumtaz

Mumtaz was born to Abdul Saleem Askari and Shadi Habib Agha on 31 July 1947 in Mumbai. She started her career as a child actress at the tender age of 12.


She is best known for her roles in Tere Mere Sapne (1971) and Khilona (1970). She even bagged the Filmfare award for the Best Actress for Khilona.

Mumtaz acted in 108 films in a career that spanned 15 years till 1977. She married Mayur Madhvani on 29 May 1974, and they have two daughters, Natasha and Tanya.

  • 8. Aishwarya Rai

Aishwarya learnt classical dance and music for five years during her teens. She also started modeling at a young age and was seen in several advertisements; some of the most popular ones being the garden sari and the Pepsi ad.

She narrowly missed being crowned Miss India and was crowned Miss World in 1994. She made her acting debut with the 1997 Tamil film, Iruvar. Her first Hindi film release was Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya, also in 1997.

Aishwarya Rai

Her first commercial success was the Tamil romantic drama, Jeans (1998), after which she received wider recognition and began her collaborations with the filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) and Devdas (2002).

She is quoted as being “The most beautiful woman in the world” and has been featured in “Time’s 100 most influential people in the world twice.” She is now married to Abhishek Bachchan and has a 4 year old daughter.

  • 9. Kajol

Kajol Mukherji was born on born 5 August 1974. Her father, Shomu Mukherjee, is from Bengal while her mother, Tanuja, is from Maharashtra. She has a younger sister, Tanisha Mukherjee who is also a Bollywood actress.


She made her acting debut with Bekhudi (1992), while she was still in school. She had her first commercial success with Baazigar (1993), opposite Shahrukh Khan.

As their screen chemistry was fabulous, she subsequently starred with Khan in several blockbusters such as Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001). Kajol starred with Sharukh in 5 movies, all of which were super hits. She won 6 Filmfare awards.

  • 10. Tabu

Tabu was born on 4 November 1971 as Tabassum Fatima Hashmi. Niece of veteran actress Shabana Azmi, Tabu spent her early years Hyderabad. She was known to study far too rigorously for her school exams.

This often worried her grandmother—a kindergarten teacher for 35 years who didn’t like children getting so stressed about studies. Says Tabu, “I always felt films were a big distraction. And all I wanted to do was stand first in class. And I could never achieve that, because there was always someone smarter.”

Tabu in The Namesake

Tabu is believed to have more than hundred nicknames such as Tabs, Tubs, Tubby, Tobler, and Toblerone. She has appeared in Hindi, English, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi and Bengali films.

Some of her most popular movies include Maachis (1996), Virasat (1997), Hu Tu Tu (1999), Astitva (2000), Chandni Bar (2001), Maqbool (2003), Cheeni Kum (2007), and Haider (2014). Life of Pi and The Namesake are some of her other well-acclaimed movies.


The ‘Indian Mom Program’ and How To Override It

As an Indian Mom, for the last 16 years I have had a program running inside me. It’s taken over my life, sometimes to the point of making it unmanageable.

I have had to fight against this program every moment of the day to make sure it doesn’t rule my life and my child’s life. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. I accept it as the win some, lose some principle.

Indian Mom

The “Indian Mom Program” is a master program that runs a whole lot of little programs or modules. The problem is that all these modules are impossible to uninstall.

All we can do is write and install a new program to override the old ones. Here are some of the modules that come installed with the Indian Mom program and how to override them.

1. The ‘Feed Your Child’ Program

This is probably true for moms all over the world, who believe that their kids will starve to death without them. And it’s probably true when your kids are newborns or under the age of 12. Or if you live in a place like Somalia.

This module is installed when your child is born, and you (and your breasts) are their only source of nourishment. Unfortunately, this module tends to take over our lives, so that, even when our kids are teenagers who can serve themselves a meal, we’re still running behind them saying, “Baba, you’re looking so thin. I made your favourite meal today. Please eat some.”

And then you sit there, glowing in pride that you’re still providing your 30 something child with food that they could have made for themselves. “Oh how wonderful that she’s eating something,” we think. “She would never have taken it for herself.”

Until a little voice says, “That’s because she has you to follow her around stuffing her face, you dolt. If it weren’t for you, she would be cooking and serving her own meals.”

So how do you override this module of your programming? You need to install the “Let Your Child Eat By Herself” module. As this is a very hard to find program, especially for Indian Moms, it requires a lot of digging into your own resources of self-control and discipline to find it.

Also, install the “Don’t Fall For The Whining” program just to make sure you can resist those complaints when your spoiled, enabled, overfed children realize they have to get off the couch and serve themselves.

2. The ‘Overprotect Your Child’ Program

This is a program that both moms and dads have installed. Sometimes it takes over one parent’s life more than the other’s. Again, this is a module installed when our kids are babies, crawling around, touching everything, putting everything in their mouths.

When they’re small it plays an important role, because they don’t yet have the knowledge not to put their little fingers into an open electrical socket or know they shouldn’t eat that bar of soap.

But when your child is well into their teens and you won’t let them go out with friends, take a rickshaw to school by themselves, or go camping with their school mates, then the program has outlived its usefulness and needs to go.

To do this, you need to install the “Let Your Child Get a Scrape Or Two” program, that allows you to let your child explore and experience life without you getting a heart attack.

Resist the temptation to uninstall this program the next time your child has to go to meet her friends or go camping without you. Give her the freedom to learn to ask for help and find her own way in the big, bad world out there.

3. The ‘Make Your Child Totally Dependent On You’ Program

For moms whose entire lives revolve around the home and kids, this is a very, very hard program to override. Mostly because their self-esteem comes from being President and CEO of the company called “My Kid’s Life.” They want to believe that, were it not for them, the kids would collapse into a helpless, shivering heap that need to be rescued from every situation.

This is an especially hard program to override mainly because many moms are not motivated to do it, and don’t have an alternative to being the “be all and end all” of their children’s lives.

To override this program, you need to install two very important programs that every parent needs:

The “Get a Life” Program

This module ensures that you, as a parent, find fulfillment outside your family and your kid’s lives. It will motivate you to get a hobby, a career, new friends, a business to run. Anything but chase after your kids constantly, overseeing every aspect of their lives. And seeing you go after your dreams will teach your kids that their goals and dreams are important too.

The “Healthy Self-Esteem” Program

Moms who live for their kids are lacking in a very important part of any person’s makeup – a healthy self-esteem. Installing this module will help you value yourself more, so that you no longer allow yourself to be a slave to your family’s whims and fancies.

The benefit of getting a healthy self-esteem is that it will make you a better role-model for your kids, teach your kids to value themselves, and show them how to create healthy self-esteem for themselves.

4. The ‘Don’t Let Your Child Fail’ Program

Indian parents are so paranoid about their kids failing in life. It’s a program that was installed in our own childhoods, when a failure in school or any other aspect of life, such as losing your job, was seen as shameful.

As a result we don’t allow our kids to try new things, explore new careers that they might be better suited to, and instead push them into “tried and tested” fields or MBAs, never mind if it’s not what they have a passion for.

But, if you read about any successful entrepreneur or achiever, you’ll learn that their lives were riddled with failure. And that sometimes those failures were the best things that happened to them, because they used them to learn lessons that ultimately helped them succeed.

To get over the aversion of allowing your child to fail, you need to get over your own aversion to failure and start seeing it as a learning process and a stepping stone to success.

Installing the “Failure Is The Best Thing That Can Happen To You” module will help you and your child let go of shame, and take pride in trying out something new, whether or not you succeed at it.

5. The ‘Don’t Let Your Child Be Herself’ Program

As parents, we see our kids as extensions of ourselves – little beings who are there to fulfill our own unfulfilled goals and dreams. But your child is an individual, with her own personality, dreams and goals. She may see herself as very different from you and your upbringing.

She may see herself as atheist, non-political, vegan, gay, transgender, Goth or something that you could never imagine being. The fact is that your child is not here to fulfill your dreams and fantasies of being a parent.

Your child is here to be the fullest expression of herself, her goals, her dreams, her personality and individuality. And it’s not up to you to prevent her from doing that.

To override this module, that was installed in us by our own parents, you need to install the “Learn to Let Go” module. It will help you let go of your expectations from your child, and will allow you to make peace with her choices. After all, what most parents want for their kids is for them to be happy.

I hope that installing these programs will help you override the “Indian Mom Program” and that you and your child have a wonderful relationship. If you have any of your own tips to share, please do so in the comments below.

© Priya Florence Shah

Naaree Interviews Dr. Seema Rao: Commando Trainer

Her calm and friendly disposition belie the fact that she is the first, and till now, the only woman commando trainer in India. Having black belts in several martial arts, and being a 7th degree blackbelt holder in military martial arts, this charming and lithe lady of 5ft 7 inch can easily kill a well-built person with her bare hands.

But there is no reason to be apprehensive in her company, for she is extremely peace loving and compassionate, and always tries her best to not hurt anybody, physically or otherwise. Swarnendu Biswas interviews martial arts expert and commando trainer, Dr. Seema Rao.

The Art of Becoming Superwoman

Besides being trained in several martial arts, Dr. Seema Rao and her husband Hon.Major Deepak Rao are prominent exponents of close quarter battle.

Dr Seema Rao Beauty PageantThey have close to 20 years of experience of imparting commando training to various forces in India, all of which they did without compensation! Her hobbies are as fascinating as her passion for commando training; they include scuba diving and sky diving.

“I love to view the world both from the bird’s eye view as well as from the dolphin’s view,” she said along with engaging laughter, which put me at ease before her magnetic personality.

She did earn her Para Wings by qualifying in the parajump course of the Indian Air Force Adventure cell. “My assignment of training the IAF commandos was my inspiration to earn my wings,” Seema reasoned.

These are not her only amazing aspects. The combat shooting instructor also has a medal in mountaineering and rock climbing from the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, complemented by the fact that she was also a Mrs India World beauty pageant finalist.

Describing Seema, who has an MD, an MBA in crisis management, and a Phd degree, as a multifaceted lady or a woman of great substance seems too much of an understatement. I finally realised that “Superwoman” is not a myth… and that she can be very down to earth too, making sincere efforts to put a poor journalist, in awe of her, at ease.

Induction to Combat

It surprised me further when she revealed that she was bullied in school. “But I nursed a deep desire to be strong and in control. I yearned for the power to dominate my fear,” she reminisced.

She got the opportunity to convert this desire into reality when she met her future husband, Hon. Major Deepak Rao. At that time, she was only 16 years old. Hon. Major Deepak Rao was into martial arts since he was 12 years old, and he inspired and initiated Seema into the empowering journey in the world of martial arts.


While on their journey to excel in martial arts, they also acquired great skills in sport shooting and weapon defence skills. “I could shoot an apple off a person’s head from 50 yards without giving him a scratch and I could evade a speeding bullet aimed at my head with ease,” Seema said laughingly, without any trace of pride, as my jaw dropped further.

Training the Armed Forces

Daughter of Professor Ramakant Sinari, a freedom fighter, the seeds of patriotism began to sprout within the recesses of Seema’s mind since her childhood years. “I often used to hear from my father stories about his participation in the freedom struggle, which stirred patriotic feelings in me,” notes Seema.

She firmly believes that “Great desire often finds its own opportunity.” The ardent desire of the Rao couple to do something constructive for the country was channelised into commando training for various Indian armed forces.

“We have trained the Indian forces for close to 20 years in the capacity of Guest Trainers. About two decades ago, we made the decision to go fulltime into armed forces’s training without accepting any compensation. Two factors inspired us to take up this Herculian challenge. One was the intense patriotism and the desire to serve the personnel who guard our freedom and/or protect our people, that too without any monetary gains. The other was the instinctive need to get engaged in combat,” says Seema.

They carried forward their resolve to train various Indian forces without compensation, despite the fact that, in the initial years of their marriage, they were plagued by financial hardships.

“During the nineties, we got invited to give many demonstrations to various forces and invitations for conducting courses began flowing in. Eventually, we approached the then Army Chief, the then Navy Chief, and the then Paramilitary DGs and they all approved our training courses for their commando personnel. That is how our journey to train Indian armed forces began,” narrated Seema.

And what a fascinating and challenging journey it was; a journey that is still on!

“We have possibly trained every known and unknown force in India. “Commandos from the Indian Army, Indian Navy’s MARCOS, Indian Air Force’s Garud, National Security Guard Black Cats, ITBP, BSF, Police QRTs of 16 states have been trained by us,” she elaborated while discussing the Rao couple’s huge purview of training across various Indian forces.

Until now she and Hon. Major Deepak Rao have trained over 15,000 personnel from various Indian forces. And they have not hung their boots up as yet. “We are always earnest to train the Indian forces and serve the country,” asserts Seema.

Unarmed Combat Forces Instruction

Introducing the Advanced Commando Combat System in Close Quarter Battle

Dr. Seema and Hon. Major Deepak Rao’s nationwide fame is largely due to their huge strides in the realm of Close Quarter Battle (CQB). To them goes the credit of developing the ACCS or Advanced Commando Combat System which is a unique and modern method of CQB.

“Close Quarter Battle is the art of fighting at close quarters, that is within 30 metres. CQB includes anything and everything that can be used in proximity combat such as reflex shooting with rifles, quick shooting with pistols, and also entails the precise use of knives, bayonets, and other appropriate combat weapons. It also involves bare handed combat,” explains Seema, adding further, “CQB also deals with the art of force multiplication, i.e. it deals with how a small team of commandos can take on a larger force on the mere basis of physical prowess, skill and protocol. Room combat and confined space combat such as anti- hijack operations also come under the purview of CQB.”

The discussion on CQB followed the evolution of the Advanced Commando Combat System. “ACCS or Advanced Commando Combat System is the name we have given to our modern method of CQB. We researched many CQB methods while training personnel from a cross-section of Indian forces and eventually reinvented the best possible CQB techniques, for the exclusive use of our Indian forces only,” proffered Seema, while maintaining that “ACCS is recognised as a military martial art worldwide.”

According to her, “ACCS is largely different from conventional CQB. The reflex shooting method with ACCS is unique. It is our gift to the Indian forces. Moreover, the unarmed methods with ACCS are easy to learn and their exercise can quickly handicap or cripple the enemy with the least effort. The team tactics with ACCS are different too and prescribe employing only one woman/man for one task as opposed to conventional western CQBs which generally entail that all team members are to be engaged together in executing one task.”

The Rao System of Reflex Fire

Here it deserves a mention that, based on their years of experience in training Indian forces, Dr. Seema and Hon. Major Deepak Rao developed an indigenous method of reflex shooting, which is known as the Rao System of Reflex Fire.

“The conventional methods of shooting generally uses up many seconds to aim precisely and then shoot. This is beneficial in long range combat when the enemy is say 300 yards away, covered by a rock. But when the enemy is just 20 yards away and in front of you, quick shooting without using too much time for precise aim is needed. To cater to this need in modern warfare, we devised Rao System of Reflex Fire. The Indian forces have found this very beneficial,” affirmed Seema.

However, here it is worth noting that the Rao couple has purposely limited the dissemination of their awe-inspiring commando training skills and all their innovations in the field of military training to the Indian forces only.

The Role of The Unarmed Commando Combat Academy

The Rao couple also constituted the UCCA or the Unarmed Commando Combat Academy, an elite military martial arts academy, to help train the Indian forces and also to publish training books for the forces. It is a government registered NGO.

“With UCCA, we have published seven books till date and three of these are limited editions for the exclusive use of the Indian forces. Our book Encyclopedia of Close Combat Ops is the world’s first encyclopadia on CQB training and it has found a proud place in FBI library and the INTERPOL library,” notes Seema.

Home Secretary of India

UCCA also has a civil chapter which runs the Jeet Kune Do Ideology center. This academy offers training in Jeet Kune Do, a martial art discipline founded by Bruce Lee.

“We also teach a variety of other exotic martial arts to civilians, and have an Unarmed Combat Blackbelt program for civilians. However, these services are in lieu of fee,” stated Seema.

It is worth noting that JKDI is not only about martial arts. This center deals with holistic human development at all levels, which entails physical fitness, nutrition & weight management, spirituality and philosophy, life management & self improvement skills, martial combat for adults and healing & health management.

The teaching faculty comprises ex forces instructors, dieticians, physiotherapists, professional martial arts experts and doctors who can cater to gradual tailor-made training process for busy, stressed out, working adults.

S5Empowering Women

Seema feels very strongly about women’s safety and their physical and mental empowerment. “I have designed a program specially tailored for ladies to deal with eve teasers, molestation, sexual assault and rape. It is called DARE (Defense Against Rape and Eve Teasing). The ‘DARE’ program is equipped to prepare women, both mentally and physically, to face adverse situations posed by potential eve teasers, molesters, and other sexual assulters,” she informed.

Lately, she has also produced and acted in a mixed martial arts movie named Hathapayi, that revolves around a woman protagonist. “The movie is India’s first mixed martial arts movie and portrays Jeet Kune Do for the first time in Indian cinema,” observed Seema.

She minces no words when she categorically states that “all my film scripts will always feature hard core action where the woman beats up the bad guys.”

The Price and the Pride

Greatness often comes at a price, and Seema was no exception. She had to repeatedly prove herself in the male dominated field of commando training, and often brave hostile terrain and highly uncomfortable weather conditions.

“I frequently meet different trainees in every course, many of whom are resistant to learn from an outside resource, leave aside a woman. I not only have to discipline them, but also have to gain their confidence in my ability to teach. However, eventually I have always managed to earn the respect of commandos I have trained,” she said with unmistakable pride in her voice.

Moreover, she had to endure multiple injuries towards fulfilling her noble calling for the country, and had to forgo motherhood in the process. But despite all these sacrifices, her body and soul are still committed to the nation and to the exciting and exacting world of combat arts.

Army Chief Citation

She was bestowed with several awards during her amazing and inspiring journey, which include the World Peace Award at World Peace Congress in Malaysia, US President’s Volunteer Service Award, and three army chief cititions among others. But she considers her greatest reward her satisfaction in training the Indian armed forces.