Internationally renowned make-up artiste Cory Wallia tells he is happy with the choices he made and that he is in a happy place

Cory Wallia believes “dogs have masters while cats have staff”. Cats have played an important role in the life of the internationally-renowned make-up artiste as it was a poster of kittens that turned his life around. “I was managing the family business. I hated it and was thinking of excuses not to go to office. One day I was walking on the streets of Mumbai and I stopped to look at this poster of kittens — I am mad about cats. On the poster I read the lines ‘doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is life'.”

That was the turning point and Cory gave away (gasp!) the Rs. six crore family business. “Wish I had sold it!” says Cory who was in town for the launch of the new Lakme Studio in Indiranagar. “But I have no regrets. I was sick of playing it safe. I had no creative or individual fulfilment. I wanted to do something on my own, to throw away the life preserver. I was lucky that at the age of 30 I was given a second chance. I was lucky to have a niche. I started out at the beginning of the media boom; it was all happening in the field of make up. It seems like there was a special shelf with my name on it.”

After giving up the family business, Cory went abroad and did two courses in make-up. “They were holiday courses, which I did for fun. But they prepared the ground for my work.”

Despite being the make-up artiste of choice for the loveliest ladies in the land including a certain Ms. Rai-Bachchan, Cory enjoys dressing up brides. “Doing make-up for an advertisement is to sell a product, but making a girl look stunning on her wedding day is something else. You are creating a memory for keeps, because that would be the face in the video and in the wedding pictures. A bride is a goddess.”

If you thought make-up is all shallow and frivolous, you have another think coming. Cory does not “work or promote fairness products”. Yes!

A zealous animal rights activist, Cory does the work “for all PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) campaigns. I don't use products tested on animals. I have five cats at home. They teach me how to live, they are survivors.”

Cory does not believe there is any vanity in women doing make-up. “Men doing make-up is vain. In women, however, there is neither vanity nor insecurity in make-up. A woman doing her face is part of sringar — it has been celebrated over 5,000 years.”

There was a time when Cory said he would not work in films as he was getting constantly short-changed. He seems to have made peace with tinsel town. “I did ‘Fashion' didn't I?” he demands.

Being the top cat in the field for 21 years, means Cory has seen phenomenal technical advances. “It is a double-edged sword. Now the cameras and lenses are so good, that they can pick up the tiniest flaw but then you have photo-shop to smoothen out every imperfection.”

The 51-year-old advices girls to look upon “Make up as an ally, not an enemy. Cosmetics will not jump off the shelf and slap themselves on your face. You need to decide on your individual style and make it work for you.”

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