Gizele Thakral puts her fashion stamp on Dubai
The Bollywood actor and model chats with City Times about celebrating her birthday in Dubai, Sushant Singh Rajput and post-pandemic fashion
Fans of the popular Salman Khan-hosted Bigg Boss show would remember her from the ninth season when she joined the reality show as a wild card entry. Though the starlet played her game well, she was evicted from the house. The elimination came as a shock for both the audience and model-turned-actor Gizele Thakral, but it did not put her off-track in terms of her career. Soon after, she made her foray on the big screen with movies like Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 and Mastizaade. She has also featured on the Kingfisher calendar, participated in reality shows like Survivors India and Welcome: Baazi Mehmaan Nawazi Ki and has now turned an entrepreneur with a fashion project in Dubai.
The beauty who has close links with Dubai having spent part of her childhood here, is now in the city to celebrate her birthday on September 3.
"Dubai is like a second home to me. I have a house here. I haven't been to the emirate for the past five months as I was stuck in Mumbai due to the travel restrictions. I was staying in Dubai after returning from the London Fashion Week, then I went to Mumbai to meet my mum, but got stuck there. Usually, I take off to some other destination to celebrate my birthday, but this year, I decided to celebrate it in Dubai. I just love the place," Gizele said.
The actor has a deep connection with Dubai having lived here during her childhood.
"Dubai is very close to my heart. I lost my dad at a very young age and after that, we moved to Dubai. I was 7 years old at that time and I remember how (unsettling) it was moving to a new place, it changes your entire life. But I'm glad I came to Dubai. The place has had a huge impact on me. Also when I was a teenager, and modelling, people in India would think that I'm Lebanese or Arab because of my fashion sense which can be attributed to Dubai. It's my second home and some of my best friends are here," she added.
Gizele reveals that she has technically been living in Dubai for the last two years and that was the reason she decided to set up shop here.
"Last year, I started a company in Dubai which deals with fashion, tech, investment, warehouse. But the fashion (section) is my scene. I've worked very hard to build this company. I'm very excited about my fashion project and soon I'm going to announce a couple of good things."
On post-Covid fashion
Being a model and having walked on the ramp for international shows, Gizele is familiar with the fashion scene. She's a regular at fashion weeks in London, Paris and Milan, and is well versed with trends. "The fashion industry has to move from survival to revival post the pandemic," she explains.
"Covid has affected the fashion industry in a big way. September is the time when the couture season picks up, but not this year. The whole world has been hit badly. What we need to do right now it to strategise for the future, for the time when things get back to normal."
On Bigg Boss
Bigg Boss is among the toughest reality shows on Indian TV, it tests your physical and mental endurance and Gizele has lived in the house. While the audience is in the dark as to the future of the show due to the pandemic, Gizele is confident the show will go on. "The pandemic will not affect the show in any way because people follow the show from the comforts of their homes. The only change I see is the delay in the starting dates. Bigg Boss was originally slated to kick off in September but now it's been moved to October."
On Sushant Singh Rajput & Rhea
Like many other Bollywood fans and celebrities, Gizele too was shocked by the death of Sushant Singh Rajput. "Not just Bollywood, I think fans all over the world are in grief over Sushant's death. I froze when I heard about Sushant's death, it was unbelievable. I used to hang around at his place, for parties. He never came across as a person who would take his own life because he was very proud of his achievements. He's struggled a lot and has achieved a lot and I think, once you reach that stage you don't give up. You may give up during your struggling days, but not when you're successful. I recollect when we used to chill out at his home, he used to show us his workout videos and tell us about the importance of being healthy. He was a teetotaller and used to be very concerned about his health and workout. He was a very intelligent person. It was very shocking to hear about the incident."
"I don't know Rhea Chakraborty, but I remember meeting her a couple of times in Mumbai when I was doing a show for MTV. She seemed a bit over-confident, but I don't know much about her. However, a young man lost his life; it was shocking, and we're still to come to terms with it. The entire nation has been affected by his untimely death."
On mental health
Discussion over mental health picked up steam ever since the death of Sushant Singh Rajput, proving that even stars are vulnerable to the pressures of life, but Gizele has found a way to keep negativity away.
"Maintaining my mental health has never been an issue because I'm into yoga, I practise breathing exercises and meditation which dissipates negative energy. A positive mindset makes a lot of difference, even if you don't practice meditation. Life will be easier if you see good in everything. Avoid getting disturbed by mental pain or by people who try to pull you down. Whenever you experience failure, you should look at the brighter side of it. After every failure comes good, something new. Everyone faces ups and downs in life, especially now, during the pandemic. I counsel friends going through depression. I talk to them for hours. I feel good that I'm able to do that. Exercise is also important, walk for half an hour or workout every day, you'll feel refreshed. A positive approach is also very important."
On detaching from issues
It's not easy being in the limelight, fans are curious to know everything that happens in a star's life and with it comes criticism, which is part and parcel of the job. So how does Gizele detach herself from the goings-on in the industry?
"It's difficult to detach from what's happening around you. If you happen to be an empathetic person who feels for others, then it's natural to feel bad about wrongdoings. I've been practising Brahma Kumari meditation ever since I was a kid because my mother was into it. It has made me a peaceful and relaxed person. I know what to take seriously and what not to. I know how to maintain the balance in my life. It's unlikely for me to get upset over little things. But having said that, the pandemic has surely affected me - people have lost their lives and jobs. But it has also taught me the importance of maintaining one's health, keeping oneself grounded and how the love of close ones matter."
On returning to movies
While starting a new business kept Gizele busy, now that it's up and running, she has plans to get back to movies.
"I had planned to shoot for a web series in April but it got delayed due to the pandemic. I'm also working on a couple of music videos. I had been busy with my business, so I didn't get time to work on movies. Honestly, I was not getting good offers after my last movie, so I decided to take a break. I didn't want to work in a movie just for the sake of it. I prefer to choose quality over quantity. Now that my company is up and running, I will get back to movies. People have been asking me when I'm going to appear on-screen next, it makes me feel special and loved. I'm blessed to be doing so many things at this stage and I thank God for it. This birthday is special for me and I'm looking forward to celebrating it in Dubai."