She crafts 3D impressions of hands and feet — though what she really does is preserve memories. We speak with India’s first life-casting artist, a pioneer in the field, to get to know her much- loved ‘art with a heart’ better.
HELLO!: Tell us how you got into this field of art.
BJ: I’ve always been passionate about listening to my heart and mind. My creative side was just waiting to come tothe forefront. So when I chanced upon this concept, I was sure I’d make this work. Training for it in London, in the fifth month of my pregnancy, launching it on the 11th day my daughter Tia was born and making castings of her baby hand and feet made the roadmap to my new creative enterprise clearer!
HELLO!: When you launched First Impression two decades ago, how confident were you in its potential and how this art form would be received?
BJ: At the risk of sounding pompous, I knew in my heart that this art would be tremendously successful in an emotionally driven country like ours. We are emotional people who celebrate and cherish family! So whether it’s the birth of a child, a wedding, a milestone, an anniversary or preserving the blessings of our parents, we want to feel these beautiful moments forever. So I was pretty confident, but it was my passion and perseverance that helped me sail through!
HELLO!: You describe your work as ‘art with a heart’...
BJ: We all want to decorate our homes with beautiful, branded artefacts and trinkets. Even when we admire these commercial pieces, we don’t have our emotions invested in them. People or their loved ones are involved in the making of what I do. Memories and feelings are all involved in these priceless works, which compound over the years. Hence, I aptly choose to call it ‘art with a heart’.
HELLO!: Your repertoire of clients is as vast as it is varied—from the late Lata Mangeshkar and our prime minister, the Ambanis, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Deepika- Ranveer and Aishwarya-Abhishek. How was the experience creating these frames for them?
BJ: My experience with all of them was warm and very human! Celebs are celebs portrayed to the world, but they are such regular people. Deepika and Ranveer were like any couple in love. Nita and Mukesh Ambani met me as happy parents excited to get their children’s impressions casted. Lata didi was so humble and oblivious of her status to the world. And our Narendra Modiji encouraged me, like any elder in the family would, to keep soaring higher!
HELLO!: It must feel especially heart-warming to know that your work of art holds the pride of place in so many homes…
BJ: Absolutely! I feel blessed and an absolute destiny’s child to be put in this place where I’m able to help patrons immortalise their cherished moments forever!
HELLO!: Being an all-women-run firm makes First Impression even more special. Was this a conscious decision pattern that evolved gradually?
BJ: Honestly, it was not a conscious decision. I believe in equality of all kinds, including gender. Though I do believe women are better multitaskers; they inherently are because of the multiple roles and responsibilities they juggle anyway in their personal lives, too.
HELLO!: Of all the awards and accolades you’ve won, which one would you say is most special to you?
BJ: The fact that I’m so loved even after completing two decades in the industry, being referred by clients to their loved ones and having my art placed in their homes, is the greatest award I can ever receive!
This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in HELLO! India’s August 2022 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!