Hair is the most important and beautiful part of our body. (I’m talking about the hair on our heads.) But in a metropolitan city like Mumbai, it is so difficult to manage hair of any length because of obvious reasons such as pollution, population and of course, our hair sticking to our lip glosses. Only girls can understand the pain of it. But guys, why fear when we’re here. We had a playful discussion with the hair stylist who’s responsible to make the models at Lakme Fashion Week look all the more prettier. Ms.Nikisha Bhatia, who also assists her father in their own salon called Shyam’s Salon gets candid with Tell Me Nothingabout the journey of her hair styling and more. Scroll down to have an insight about the hairy interview:
So, Nikisha Bhatia! Tell us something about yourself :
Hello folks, my name is Nikisha Shyam Bhatia. I basically belong from a Rajasthani family. I love dancing and teaching. I am being trained by Shiamak Davar’s Institute of Performing Arts. I’ve been a part of SDIPA since past 8 years. My family has, from the very start, been into this industry of hair styling and wellness.
What have you done professionally?
Well, I have done my graduation in commerce. When I cleared my 12th grade, my father introduced me to the world of hair styling. He used to take me along to his shows where he used to be on stage, sharing knowledge and the auditorium used to be full of people listening to him and looking up to him just like their Guru. That is when I got to know in bits and pieces about this entire business. So, having deciding to move ahead as a hair stylist, I started studying the subject at my father’s salon and simultaneously studying the course with L’Oreal International as a student after my 14th grade and also, I interned with Hakim Alim’s. Once when I completed the my graduation, I joined my father’s business, Shyam’s Salon.
Your father is a well known hair stylist. Was it your plan from the start to join your father’s business?
Honestly, if you would’ve asked me this question 5-6 years ago, my answer would’ve been a straight no. But my father always wanted me to join him, as he knew what this industry had to offer me. As I mentioned earlier, my family has been into this industry since like, forever. My grand father Mr. Harish Bhatia, whom I have immense respect for, owns one of the largest salons across India called Bigg Boss. I was never forced by my family to get into this. My father guided me step by step, like a baby to this industry by taking me along to his shows. Then happened a real funny incident. One very fine day my grand father called my father up saying, “Beta, we have this competition coming up for under 18 kids for hair styling called World Skills. Enroll Niki for the same.” Next morning, I am holding my toolkit and waiting for the car to arrive. Now World Skills is a platform where kids from all around the globe come and compete with each other and this lasts for continuous 2 days. We kids were standing on our feet for a constant 46 hours styling the models. Of course, we used to get some sleep, but early next morning the competition used to begin. It turns out to be that I’m declared to be the gold winner of the competition. After which comes the another competition in the picture, which was held in Pune, where I was staying away from my family for a time span of 6 months. The trainer over there was Asha Hariharan, who happens to be the hair stylist of Priyanka Chopra and at a leading position in Wella. In one such competitions, we were asked to style the models. I actually felt like I am in a zoo where we are behind the glass doors, people coming and seeing us, clicking pictures and we had absolutely zero idea of what’s going around. At that moment, while I was styling my model, a man suddenly came in front of my glass door and stood there stagnant. I was wondering that why is he not moving. And when I lift my eyelids to see who is he, it was my father. The hair brush slipped out of my hands, I went running outside, I hugged him and cried, and he hugged me tighter and cried, too. I was given a warning by my mentor to come inside else I shall be disqualified. That moment is so precious for me. Post the World Championship, I was sponsored by Government of India to represent out country at Jakarta, in an event for Asian World Skills Competition for NSDC. After which, there came another competition called the Tressemme presents “A Cut Above” which was broadcasted on ZOOM TV. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the finals, but people still know me and remember me as compared to the girl who won the show. My dad always insisted me on participating in some or the other event, because I believe that is your true test. Competition shows you where exactly you stand in the respective industry of your profession. And I did all of these at the age of 19. After which, I decided to step into this world completely. Because this industry has three major things to offer you – unlimited money, trust of the clients and belief in us which the client has in abundance.
What and who was your motivation to get into hair styling?
Well, apart from my family, I can name one lady who has motivated me a lot. While I was studying at L’Oreal, there was this lady who is now at a very senior level out there, named Priya Kasturi Rangan. Usually, an image of a hair stylist is always so funky and loud. But this woman was so calm, down to earth, modest and soothing. Whenever she used to teach us, we actually used to understand every bit of it. She had her own style of teaching, which was just so serene and lovely. I’m sure, if I have to become like someone, I’d be like Priya Ma’am.
You do a lot of bridal hair and make up. Any plans to a bride anytime sooner?
Hahaha! No. No thoughts to be given about at this point of time. The best part about it is, even though I belong from a Rajasthani family, my parents are not at all pressurizing on me getting married.
How has being a professional hair stylist changed your life?
Well, people who do not belong from this industry needs to understand one thing that they are aliens to us. Being a hair stylist has made me feel so proud of myself and made me all the more secure. Our clients trust us so much, that they even share their secrets with us. They shower us with so much of love and warmth, which is insane.
You are the reason to make those faces at Lakme Fashion Week all the more prettier. How has your experience been with it?
A lovely question. Firstly, there’s a story as to how did I get into Lakme Fashion Week. When I used to work with L’Oreal, there was one of our seniors called Mr. Rohit, who later started working with a brang called called “TiGi”, which is a part of Hindustan Unilever (HUL). Lakme, being a part of HUL, he wanted someone in-house to do the hair for their models. That is when he called me and said, “Niki, I know 2000 other people but still I choose you. Will you be a part of Lakme Fashion Week?” I jumped out of joy and said a big YES. Coming back to the question, well, it has been a beautiful experience. It is so much fun to create your own look for the beautiful models out there. One thing that it has taught me is speed. You have to be so quick because one by one the names are being called. You have to be on your toes throughout as those models change twice after hitting the ramp once. You have to create a very unique look because your hair speaks a lot. If it is bikini show, you have to leave the hair messy with a rough and beach look. And if it is a bridal show, the hair has to be more tied up in a sophisticated pony tail as the costume is the highlight out there. There’s this incident that I’d like to share. It was during a show with designer Vikram Phadnis wherein he came to the green room and asked me to do a bun for one of his models. And, I created a bun. “I want the exact same hairdo for all 40 of my models”, is what he said. Word-to-word. I took a chair from behind, banged right in front of him, stood on it with a hair spray in between my legs and comb in my hands, and said “Bring on the girls!” Those pretty ladies were standing in a queue for such a long time. We started from 5:30 PM and the last name was called at 8:00 PM. for straight two and a half hours, I was just standing still on the chair in one position. Post the show, Vikram came and gave a big tight hug to me, took my number and said we will do many shows together in future. Such experiences bring nothing but joy in your life.
We know that Shyam’s Salon has styled Mr. Universe, Rohit Khandelwal as well. Tell us something about that experience.
Oh, yes! My brother Vivek Bhatia had styled him, Rohit is a very good chap and was playful all the time. Basically, my father is in the entertainment industry from quite a while and has developed some real good contacts. Along with Rohit Khandelwal, we have also styled Vivek Oberoi, Pyaar Ka Punchnama fame, Kartik Aaryan and child artist, Harshaali Malhotra as well.
Any crazy fan story or some craziest experiences you’d like to share with us?
Oh, many! People follow us like crazy. For them, we are their Gods. They literally call you up for every advice like what should we name our salon or what color should we paint our walls and etc. I remember a story when we were in Dubai and my dad had posted it on social media about the same. A girl who is my father’s fan actually messaged him saying “If you visit my house, it will be the holiest place I’ll ever live in.” She had requested to such an extent saying I shall send a car to pick you up, regardless of wherever you are. She was not able to come to receive us because they had Lord Ganpati at her place and she couldn’t leave the Lord alone. Such people give us so much on inspiration and shower us with immense love.
What is your favorite hair style that you can live forever with?
Wow! I think, it would be the beach look. Totally messy and raw hair do, hit by the wind.
How does one maintain their hair perfectly in a city like Mumbai?
I always emphasize on people using both Shampoo and Conditioner of any brand that suits you. I believe, Shampoo and Conditioner are your best friends. In a city like Mumbai, I’d just give you one piece of advice. Don’t leave your hair lose while traveling. Rather, tie a messy bun when you leave your place and then once you reach your work place, let them lose and see them fall in a beautiful way. When it comes to girls having extremely curly hair, all I’d want to say is, fall in love with your curls. I’d do anything to get curly hair because for me, straight is just boring. To maintain the curls, you can use the Liss Control or Spiral Splendor from L’Oreal.
Who is your favorite hair stylist or who is your motivation?
Well, there was a very famous hair stylist whom we term as Godfather of Hair Styling named Vidal Sassoon from London. But unfortunately, he is no more. He is my idol and I so wanted to meet him once. Currently, I am highly motivated by Farouk Shamuratov. He is one of the leading hair stylists we have.
Any message for the viewers of Tell Me Nothing?
Whatever you do, fall in love with your work and the industry. Have immense knowledge about the same and keep on challenging yourself everyday to do something new and unique. I believe when you get into a competition, that’s when you actually get to know where do you stand in the market.
Tell Me Nothing, you guys are a doing a wonderful job. You people are unique in your own way because you are giving such a platform to budding entrepreneurs and artists, which gives them a motivation to do much more better. Much love and power to you guys.
And that’s how Nikisha Bhatia signed off. We had taken this interview in the salon itself named Shyam’s Salon located in Bhayander, Mumbai. Have a look about the fun our Director Shweta Shah had with the young talent:
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