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Standing Her Ground Away From The Crowds – Shweta Nanda, The Unknown Bachchan

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The individuality and personality of a person is to a large extent defined by the parents of the child who bring him to this planet. Assuming six billion humans in the world and 12 sun signs, it would seem that 500 million of us belong to same zodiac house.

That is however just one-twelfth or eight percent of the story as the position of the other planets in your birth chart is also equally significant in determining your traits and future. Today, there are possibly thousands of people in the world who may have the exact same birth chart but they turn out to be very different people. Even twins who are born a few minutes apart can have very different destinies. For instance did you know that Scarlett Johansson, Ashton Kutcher and Gisele Bundchen each have twin siblings who are virtually unknown to most of us.

The importance of family lineage in a society is inversely related to the level of social mobility of the nation. The lower the social mobility the more important it is to be born to the right parents. This phenomenon is perhaps the most predominant in India which has the second highest population in the world and tremendous economic divide. Whether it be politics, entertainment, sports or even general career decisions, the achievements of your ancestors play a very important role in determining your future. Bollywood in particular is one field which has virtually been taken over by star kids and beauty queens in the past decade. The dynasties that rule Bollywood prominently include the likes of the Kapoors, Deols (Sunny, Bobby, Abhay, Dharmendra), Roshans and last but not the least the Bachchans.

The Kapoors who came into existence almost eight decades ago when Prithviraj Kapoor started his career in 1929 are the equivalent of the Gandhi’s and undoubtedly the most influential family in the industry. Of the remaining family clans, it is the Bachchans who seem to be heading in the direction of the Kapoor’s with Amitabh Bachchan being the founder of the dynasty. Amitabh, his wife Jaya, son Abhishek and daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai are two generations of actors in Bollywood with a likelihood that more members from the next generation of the family will join the industry in the near future. For a nation that has been infatuated by one Bachchan or another for roughly four decades, there is one unknown Bachchan who has stood her ground and deflected the perpetual fascination that the nation has with her family.

38 year old Shweta Nanda confesses to have never been inclined to be a part of Bollywood. Apart from a short-lived incident involving being the host of a TV show, which she terms “disastrous”, Shweta bluntly says, “I’m scared of cameras and I’m not good with crowds,” She adds, “I don’t think I have the talent or the face to be a heroine. I’m happy where I am.

Nanda has always been the unknown Bachchan, a woman standing among her kin at events but rarely choosing to speak. “She is quietly effective,” says her mother Jaya (whom Nanda calls her biggest critic). “She shies away from the limelight.”

With only two years between them, she and younger brother Abhishek have always been very close. While they attended Boston University, they shared an apartment, dividing chores and working on school assignments. “I would cook, and he would clean; he was in charge of the accounts, while I did the decor,” she recalls.

Aishwarya, she says, has easily taken on the role of daughter in the house and the grandparents are completely in love with the newest little addition, Aaradhya.

Shweta is the proud mother of two children, Navya – 15 years old and 12-year-old Agastya. Talking about Navya, Shweta says “She’s a total girl, I love having her at this age. I’m living vicariously through her, buying her pink sequined shorts and high top sneakers that I really can’t wear now. She’s already taking some of my neon bags and accessories, picking the pieces she wants to keep.

Fashion wise, Nanda is an interesting hybrid of the older Bachchans. She’s glamorous, yes, but considers herself far less flamboyant than her father, and she appreciates her mother’s pared-down choices.

Her look has evolved drastically over the years, moving from American casual to an effortless sophistication. At her father’s birthday extravaganza, you couldn’t miss Nanda-statuesque in shimmering gold-greeting guests warmly, dancing up a storm and out-shining many of the stars. There she was definitely not seen as the unknown Bachchan.

I work on my look a lot more now,” Nanda admits, but there’s a paradox in this that makes a strong case for her inherent elegance. “I’m more groomed, but I’m still lazy. I don’t like to put things together—I’m not big on accessories, and I prefer solid hues.”

Times are tough, and no one wants to invest in single-use clothing,” she says sensibly. “Provocative is for Lady Gaga and Nicky Minaj. Elegance lasts so much longer.

Wise words from the daughter-in-law of Rajan Nanda, chairman of the billion dollar Indian engineering conglomerate Escorts Group. While Shweta Nanda chose to be the unknown Bachchan it remains to be seen what path her children Navya and Agastya or her niece Aaradhya Bachchan will chose. In any case it will take just one of them to take the Bachchan dynasty forward and keep Amitabh’s legacy alive for many decades to come.

Credits: Cover Image and Interview with Shweta Nanda is courtesy of Vogue India magazine.