First Impression is a unique concept introduced for the first time in the country 15 years ago by Bhavna Jasra. Her art involves casting expressions of hands and feet in metal finishes like gold, silver, and bronze and their variants, and framing them to make memorable keepsakes for life. In a freewheeling chat with us, Bhavna opens up about her work and its influence on her clients.
First Impression is a unique idea! How did it all begin?
I was five months pregnant when my husband Gautam and I travelled to London to take time off work and indulge in some baby shopping. During a visit to my friend’s place, I chanced upon a frame with her baby’s tiny feet and was so mesmerised by the concept, that I requested my friend to take me to the studio where these masterpieces were made. She called and informed me that there was no appointment available for the next three weeks, and explained that the more appropriate time to visit this studio was when I would travel to London after the birth of my child.
Since my maternal hormones were raging and I had planned to be in London just for a week, I landed up at the studio the very next day, hopeful of squeezing myself through. Sadly, no such thing happened, and the diehard optimist in me found myself waiting in the reception area for five consecutive days after that. When I finally met the artist, I asked her if she would teach me this art form, as I was convinced that this concept would become immensely successful in an emotionally-charged country like India. After an hour of negotiation and paying a hefty franchise fee, we convinced her to take me on as an apprentice. I launched First Impression on the 11th day after the birth of my daughter Tia, and I’ve never looked back.
In 16 years of being in this business, I’ve had the joy of casting impressions for memorable moments in the lives of Deepika & Ranveer Singh, Nita and Mukesh Ambani, Anjali and Sachin Tendulkar, Sania Mirza, Abhishek and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Amir Khan, Shilpa Shetty, Rajnikanth, Jr NTR, Akshay and Twinkle Kumar, Sanjay and Manyata Dutt, John Abraham, Jyotika and Surya, Dhanush and Aishwarya Rajnikanth, Suneil Shetty, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Farah Khan, Rani Mukherji, Ekta Kapoor, Subhash Ghai, Bobby Deol, Lata Mangeshkar, Sanjay and Pinky Reddy, Neerja and Kumarmangalam Birla, Gopal and Soni Hinduja, Gautam and Navaz Singhania, Celina and Jeh Wadia, Urvi Piramal, and many more, including our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
I have also created memorabilia of the cricketing champions who won the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011 for India, and I have had the privilege of casting impressions of the six great cricket captains: Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Arjuna Ranatunga, Clive Lloyd, Allan Border, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
What’s most challenging about what you do?
My art involves taking impressions of hands and feet and then developing impressions from it, which represent beautiful memories that one can cherish a lifetime. For this, it is very important for me to meet the clients personally and understand their feelings behind making this impression. I also see and evaluate the space in which the piece will be displayed, so that everything is in perfect sync. I ensure that the final masterpiece is flawless, and this itself is challenging, considering how much work we do and the travel involved. But the love and passion I have for my work and the gratification I get from my clients just keep me going.
You meet quite a few celebrities for casting either theirs or their babies’ impressions. Do you ever get starstruck?
Not really. Every star that I’ve met for my casting work has met me not as a star but in the role of a parent, spouse, or a child who wants a casting done of a loved one. But I must admit that meeting Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh for casting their impressions was my biggest fan moment!
What’s in the pipeline for First Impression?
I’ve been engaged in personal commissioning for over 16 years now. The next step is organising my solo show of multidimensional art pieces with castings as the focus, which can be displayed in any space – personal or commercial – as pure art displays. I’m planning this towards the end of the year.
What was your first cast impression?
My daughter Tia’s hand and feet castings, done on the day she was born. They are most precious to me! – as told to Sumana