Itís onwards and upwards for fashion designers Swapan and Seema, known for their trademark wedding lehngas and saris that they sell from their studio on Sarat Bose Road, Vachi. Theyíve been showing off their collection at the Lakm' India Fashion Week since 2002. And they say itís been a learning curve. ďThe first year we worked very hard to make a good collection and it turned out to be a really good experience. We got a chance to interact with designers, buyers and the media. Then afterwards, we knew what we were headed for,Ē says Swapan.
This year, they gave their traditional repertoire a twist by displaying their Ďgreení concern for the forests. Their clothes were in a palette of brown and green hues. ďIt was a collection which is as feminine as a life-giving tree, a tribute to every woman who loves life. Whatís more, this year we also got orders from abroad,Ē says Swapan. They supply their designs to 13 stores across the country as well as to six stores overseas.
The couple has a 12-year-old daughter, Devanshi, and a 10-year-old son, Siddharth.
SWAPAN ON SEEMA
We have been married for 15 years now and it was an arranged marriage. When I first met Seema, I was quite impressed. But as I could not decide overnight, we decided to meet and chat for a while so that we could get to know each other better. What appealed to me was her shy confidence. She was pretty young at that time. But there was a certain simplicity and modesty in the way she replied to everything that I asked her.
The icing on the cake was that she knew about the arts and the first thought that came to my mind was, yes, she could help in my trade. At that time, I was already into fashion.
Everything was very positive about her except for her height. She was five feet two inches tall and could manage a couple of inches more with heels on! Iíd wanted someone who was taller but it wasnít a major issue. I am after all only five feet eight inches myself. I told myself if Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan worked as a couple, why canít we' You canít always get 100 per cent of what you want.
Now, over the years, what really appeals to me is her positive approach to life. She guides me to think straight and to be positive under all circumstances. We spend almost all our waking hours together, given our profession. But we always agree on everything. Thereís no need to play hide-and-seek as everything happens quite in the open.
If thereís one little thing I donít like in Seema, itís her tendency to keep things hanging for a long time. I keep worrying while she is cool and relaxed. I am the kind who would rather arrive an hour early for my appointments. I am not that chilled out.
But in spite of everything, our marriage has been a success. My cousins and friends often wonder about the secret behind it. I feel arranged marriages work only if you get married while you are young. Once you cross 30, your ideas get more fixed and you find it difficult to compromise and adjust. This is what is happening today. People are getting more independent and that is why you see more and more single people all around.
Mutual compromise is the most important thing. If youíre too rigid in the way you think, no partnership will work. So, my advice to the new generation would be, Ďdonít take quick decisions, think things over and learn to settle for the middle ground.í
SEEMA ON SWAPAN
I was quite impressed by his personality the first time I met him. He is handsome and I was quite taken by his looks. I saw in him what every girl wants to see in a man. His confidence was reflected in his personality. But quite soon I also discovered he was a perfectionist and that gave me the shivers. He was good- natured but very rigid and strict.
Over the years, we have become really good friends. He guides me in everything I do. I quite like the way he sizes up a situation. For instance, he shows me both sides of a situation and then leaves the choice to me. The way he does this is quite unique because soon I realise that I have taken a step in the direction of his decision.
The only negative thing in him is his short-fuse temper. It gets really bad, but thankfully his tempers are short-lived. To balance it, heís very sensitive and observant. He never comes up with quick decisions; heís a good judge of people and far-sighted.
What has made our marriage work is the mutual understanding and the trust that we have between us. Too much exposure leads to lack of tolerance and thatís what is happening with a lot of young people today.
Photograph by Subhendu Chaki