Keeping It Close - Shilpa, Samrat, and Sahitya Reddy

Excitement fills the air, the city is lit up, stores are offering incredible sales, and everyone across the country is gearing up for the festive season. Raksha Bandhan may have passed, but the season still has many festivals in the pipeline, like Gandhi Jayanti, Janmashtami and Onam, leading to the biggest and most widely celebrated ones – Dussehra and Diwali. To mark the onset of the festive season, we chatted with three well-known siblings from the city – Shilpa, Samrat, and Sahitya Reddy, amid a lot of giggling and selfie sessions. Read on to find out what binds these gorgeous three together.  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           -- Niharika

What are your hopes for the coming festive season?
Shilpa: As a fashion designer, this season is really important for me as we plan our calendar months in advance with regard to the colours and styles for the season, keeping in mind the numerous festivals that occur during this time. There are lots of weddings that take place this season, too. So it’s an important time of year for me, and of course we want the best sales from the new collection. We Indians are very happy people, so we always dress in bright colours on joyous occasions. Therefore, any bright colour is welcome, whether it’s an orange, red, pink, yellow or purple.
If every woman, whether grown up or a teenager, can manage to have at least 20% of their wardrobe as Indian handlooms or weaves, I think we can protect the dying culture and help keep the artisans’ work intact.

Sahitya: I currently live in Doha with my husband and children, and every year we come to India during these two months when my children have summer holidays to spend time with my family. Luckily, many of our birthdays and several festivals fall during this time, so I get to be part of the celebrations. Even when there’s no festival or wedding, just being together with my family creates a festive feeling. We’re always singing, dancing and making merry. After many years I will be in the country during Ganesh Chaturthi too, so I’m looking forward to be part of the festivities.

Samrat: Since I’m newly married, this year will see a bigger celebration, both at my house as well as my in-laws’ place and I’m looking forward to it immensely.

What is your favourite festival?
Shilpa: For me it’s got to be Diwali, because there are many parties leading up to the main festival day. You get to dress up not just once, but many times. There’s festivity in the air, people are happy, empathetic and more giving. Everyone wants to share their joy with their loved ones during this time.
Sahitya: Diwali. For most Indians who live abroad, Diwali is one of the only festivals that is celebrated with pomp and show. In fact, it’s not just Indians, but people from different nationalities and religions that come together and celebrate Diwali.

Samrat: My favourites are Sankranti and Ramzan. The excitement of flying kites with close ones and the thrill of cutting a kite is like none other. I’m a total foodie and the delicious offerings during the month of Ramzan are my favourite.

Given how busy you are with your respective lives, how does it feel to be together on Raksha Bandhan?
Shilpa: We’re really close to each other, so whether it’s Rakhi or even going to Gandipet for a picnic, it means the same to us. But this shoot really means a lot to us because it’s the first time we three siblings have come together for the cover of any magazine; moreover, You & I is like home to me.

Sahitya: This is one festival that we three have always looked forward to, right from our childhood days. And it’s one that I never miss, no matter which part of the globe I’m in. My husband is in the merchant navy, so we’ve travelled and moved from country to country quite a bit in the past. Nonetheless, I was always in Hyderabad to celebrate Rakhi with Samrat and Shilpa.
Samrat: I feel very lucky to have both my sisters with me on this day every year. We ensure that we never miss Raksha Bandhan, no matter how busy we are.

What do you think about the look?
Shilpa: We’ve shot with two looks. One is a tribute to Indian weavers; everything celebrates Indian art and artisans, including the colours, jewellery, weaves, and print on the saree. The second look is more towards contemporary India – a blue lehenga with a yellow dupatta. Each has its own distinctive feel.

What is the one thing that binds the three of you together?
Shilpa: Humour (laughs)! And bullying each other... Your family is what keeps you grounded and tells you who you really are. You could be anything outside, but your family really brings you down and points out the mistakes you make and corrects you to make you a better person. It’s the comfort level we have with each other that makes us so close; we can tell each other anything without actually affecting our relationship. Not every family can boast of it, but luckily we have the nerve and courage to tell each other about our best and worst qualities.

Sahitya: We are quite open to criticism and always take it in a positive way. No matter what the problem is we manage to find a solution. People say that as you grow older it’s difficult to keep the bond alive, but we’ve managed that quite well. We still behave like we did when we were little kids, goofing around and laughing at each other.

Samrat: The three of us have been very close since we were young kids. Since there’s seven and eight years age difference between my sisters and I, we’ve shared a very special bond; they treated me like their son growing up, and now we’re like best buddies. We never had to put in an effort to make our bond special; it always came naturally.   

What do you do when you’re not working?
Shilpa: I do a lot when I’m not working. I have a son and two lovely dogs, and they keep me on my toes always. We play football, running races, roll in the garden, jump on the trampoline, indulge in artwork, and so much more. I read when I get the time and sometimes sing, too. I often call some musicians home to play some Indian classical music for me. Twenty-four hours is not enough; I think I can do with a few more hours in a day!

Sahitya: Previously I used to work for a news channel as a talk show host, and then ran a school of my own. But after I moved to Doha I gave that up to be a hands-on mother. I’m now a homemaker and in my free time I travel, host coffee mornings, and get-togethers.

Samrat: Being an entrepreneur there’s not much free time I can boast of. But whenever I get any I spend it with my wife or indulge in gaming.

What is your fashion forte?
Shilpa: My style is completely according to the season and the mood. When I’m going for a cocktail party I would wear a Hervé Leger bodycon gown or dress, whereas when I’m going for a wedding or Indian function I’d love to wear everything ethnic, from a bindi to ghungroo. I’m always dressed appropriately for every occasion. But I think I am more inclined towards a saree, and I like to tweak it a little, maybe with a shirt, belt or jacket to make it more interesting and show off my personality.

Sahitya: Whites are my favourite, and I like wearing comfortable fabrics like linen and malkha. I’m most comfortable in Indian clothes that are airy and have volume. When it comes to dressing for festivals and weddings I don’t break my head; I simply go by Shilpa’s suggestion.

Samrat: At home I chill out in my casual wear—a T-shirt and shorts and when I go out I prefer to keep it simple in semi-formal attire.