Designer Nisha Jamwal talks to T. KRITHIKA REDDY about how one of Jeffrey Archer's short stories in the recently released compilation “And There by Hangs a Tale” is inspired by a slice of her life

A Rajput prince falling in love with a non-Rajput girl at a traffic signal! Sounds so Bollywood. But it's a true-life inspired tale that assumes freshness through Jeffrey Archer's eloquent storytelling in “And Thereby Hangs a Tale.”

“Caste-Off”, one of the 15 short stories in the newly-released compilation, is based on a surprise-sprinkled love saga of Mumbai-based designer Nisha Jamwal. “My life has never been ordinary. I'm not saying that it is good or bad. There have been rapids and troughs, highs and lows. It's just not been a humdrum existence. Perhaps Archer was intrigued by all the happenings in my life that he chose to chronicle them. And nobody I know can tell a story quite like him. He has a way with words,” smiles Nisha, her caramel skin glowing in the warm lighting at Taj Mount Road.

Association with Archer

Between posing for the camera and answering calls on her Blackberry, the vivacious designer speaks about her association with Archer. “My husband Kanwar Rameshwar Singh Jamwal (an IIM, Ahmedabad gold medallist with a royal lineage) and I met the famed author at a dinner hosted by a friend in Mumbai. It was a scintillating evening which he has related in ‘Caste-Off'. He seemed very interested in the twists and turns in our love life. He was in Chennai the next day for a book launch. When the readers asked him what inspired him to write, he had said real-life stories and people. He even mentioned about a couple from Mumbai inspiring him to write his next story. At the end of the session, when my mother who was in the audience approached him for an autograph and told him about my meeting him in Mumbai, he smiled and informed her that the couple whose story had fascinated him was none other than Nisha and Jamwal! I had no clue he was going to write about us. I was surprised when my mom called up.”

“Caste-Off” has all the ingredients of a Bollywood potboiler. “Talks are on with producers. The story has raised a lot of interest. And Archer has used original names. People recognise me in the story; I'm getting calls and mails.”

Archer, Nisha says, came into her life when she was very young. “I remember reading ‘Kane and Abel' before my exams by keeping the copy inside my History textbook! I've read each and every bestseller of his and followed his life with great interest. Like a sponge, he absorbs so much from his surroundings and weaves them into compelling stories. I admire the man and his mighty pen. Recently, he presented me an autographed hardcover of “And Thereby Hangs a Tale” with a “Happy Birthday” note. It was the most magical moment in my life.”

Nisha Jamwal is all charged up. No batteries required. During the launch of her new line “I Believe I Can Fly”, she speaks about her plans for Chennai and the metaphor of flight that's close to her heart.

READY FOR ME? The city has changed so much since I first brought my clothes here a few years ago. The younger lot has a more daring sense of dressing. The fashion walk at Taj Mount Road is a forerunner to my big plans for the city. “& Couture”, that's to be opened soon, will be showing a chunk of my pret and couture lines. And guess what? The prices will be as low as Rs. 800. Yes, I just want to slice into the market!

FLY ABOVE, AWAY We are going through tumultuous times. “I Believe I Can Fly” uses the metaphor of flight. It's something that appeals to me no end. Sometimes, you just feel like flying away from the cares of the world. This idea is augmented by a collection that's light and breezy in chiffon, georgette and organza.

NOT JUST PAGE 3 My line is not just for the famous and wanna-be-famous people. I'm inspired by working women with a mind of their own. It's for people who are not conscious of being broad in the beam. It's for the time-pressed lot looking for cross-over clothes.

SOCIAL STANCE Yes, as designers, we are affected by what's going on around us. Socio-economic happenings impact our designs as well. My line “India Phoenix” celebrated the resilience in all of us. It was conceived soon after a bomb blast in Mumbai. All my tailors and masters reported for duty on time. Life has to go on…

CRAFT-CENTRIC I love to incorporate traditional Indian embroidery and block prints into my work. I've written two books on saving the rich craft traditions of the country. My recent collection gives a new twist to an old stitch that's special to Gujarat.

HEART COUTURE As a designer I'm very detached. I like to approach my work as a painter would approach his canvas. I've never participated in the fashion weeks because you get caught in the crowd. I'd rather do niche shows for people who appreciate my work. Critics call me OTT (over the top). But I've mellowed down. More monochrome now.

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