Monday, June 17 2019


Gitanjali Kirloskar

The biggest challenge while writing about the chairperson of Kirloskar Technologies, Geetanjali Kirloskar, is to define her. Is she a businesswoman? An actor? Art collector? In a freewheeling chat, Arathi Menon finds out that she is all these and much more.
For the weight that her second name holds, Geetanjali Kirloskar is surprisingly light. Like a feather, she glides across the facets of her famous life without making a big deal about any. Entertainer at one moment, loner at another, the actor-traveller-business woman can gaze at mountains for hours and pen sombre poetry when creativity strikes. But most times, you will find her presiding the boardrooms of the sprawling Kirloskar Business Park.
Wife of Vikram Kirloskar, Geetanjali Kirloskar is the chairperson of Kirloskar Technologies Ltd and Toyota Tsusho Insurance Broker India Pvt Ltd. She was not new to fortunes when she got married in her late teens to one of the most respected business families in India. Born in the famous Rajawade family of Pune, she describes her upbringing as one steeped in old wealth, culture and royalty. But her marriage to the freethinking heir of a wellrooted business family made her soar in the realm of her choice. “I always wanted to be a businesswoman,” she says.
Her husband sensed her potential. After sixteen years in the advertising field, she retired four years ago as the head of Quadrant, a Kirloskar-IPG venture. Concentrating on Kirloskar’s small businesses like real estate, she is also honorary consul of Finland in Bangalore. Ltd. In between, she finds time for acting, travelling and writing.
Having acted in two movies – Samay and Cheluvi – she wants to act in more. She also had a TV show, Life’s Like That. “Acting is ingrained in me. I got offers from films even when I was a student at Lawrence school in Sanawar, but my father was unrelenting,” she says. She admits if she hadn’t got married at a very young age, there would’ve been a lot of fireworks at home. “My father was very chauvinistic and difficult to live with. I grew up in rebellion. I’m not a bra-burning feminist but my dad’s controlling nature got to me. I never met him on the same ground,” she recalls.
But by then her arranged alliance with the Kirloskar scion materialised. “Every woman, I believe, needs a male anchor in her life. At least I do. My husband believes everyone should respect the other’s need for freedom and not judge others. This is the best lesson I’ve learnt from him,” she says.
Kirloskar radiates energy, and is no stranger to compliments about her youthful looks. “Maintaining yourself is a mix of sensible eating, exercise and very positive thoughts,” she says. “When you are a prominent personality, the negative energy arund you will get to you after some time and that’s when you begin to age. Positive thinking alone can help you here,” she adds. One of her favourite travel destinations, Nepal, affirms the spiritual side to her personality. “For many generations, my family has been following the Radhaswamy path and I believe in it too,” she smiles.
Despite the abundance of wealth she has lived with, very few material things excite her. Mostly seen in traditional wear, she loves well-fitting churidars with delicate embroideries and big dupattas. When we meet, she is wearing Abhishek Gupta. A Stella McCartney tote rests by the side of the table. You press her and she mentions Marc Jacobs, DvF, J.Lo, Juicy Couture to name a few brands she turns to regularly. And she loves LV limited-edition bags too. Among Indian designers, she likes Tarun Tahiliani and Kavita Bhartia.
Happy in her big little world with her businessman husband and artist daughter, Kirloskar admits that she couldn’t have asked for a better life. “After I die, I want to be remembered as someone who brought a smile on everyone’s lips,” she trails off.

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