Nina Pillai talks with You & I
That inspired you to get into writing?
From 2000-2007, I wrote two weekly columns, and then one every week for the Indian Express group of newspapers. I enjoyed the challenge that writing posed; many a time, I talk faster than I think. The humility of thinking before writing taught me a valuable life lesson. I write a weekly column for DNA now and, truth be told, it gives me great pleasure. It’s an opinion column, which gives me an opportunity to freely communicate with my readers on any subject that appeals to me. I’ve also got a contract with Harper Collins to write the story of my life whenever I decide to publish it. I plan to do a fictionalised version rather than a biographical one.
What aspects of Sakhi TV do you handle?
Four years ago, I was approached by the Sakhi team to be chairman, a role that later expanded to the Sakhi Group. As a non-executive chairman, I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of the channel, but the group and TV channel address women’s issues and are marketed as ‘for women, by women, to women’. Girls and women’s issues are very close to my heart; despite comprising nearly half of the country’s population, women are unrepresented in many fields, and equality is the exception versus the norm.
What about Triveda?
I’m the founding chairman of Triveda Fine Arts, which I run along with my sons Krishna and Shiva. Triveda is an art auction house and fine arts venture that seeks to showcase the best of Indian art. We unify the creative and cultural vision of the founders with the aid of professional experts and consultants, offering rare and unique pieces from India’s foremost artistic talents. Triveda Gallery exclusively handles the prodigious talent of NRI artist Aslam Shaikh, who is based in Dubai and London. Aslam has over a dozen shows to his credit, both in India and abroad, and is currently working overseas on a collaboration.
How do you manage it all?
Striking the right balance is what everyone aspires to do. For me, that is family, work and prayer. My sons are my pillars of strength, and raising them as a single mother was a challenge that I would willingly undertake again if given the chance in my next life. The love, respect and warmth that my parents and sons brought to my life after my late husband Rajan Pillai passed away is what keeps us together. My favourite saying is, “A family that eats together stays together.” That holds true for us.
Three things about you that people don’t know...
After a youth spent collecting many things, I’m happy to say that I’ve realised that only people matter. Second on the list, I have a passion for the underdog, and I make a better friend in times of trouble than when the going is good. And third, I want to give back for all that I have been bestowed with despite the tragedy of losing my husband at a young age. I would like to do as much as I can for the greater population of our nation; a cause that is dear to my heart.
What is your greatest fear?
That I will run out of ideas, stop thinking of the future and merely live in the past. Old age also is a challenge, but I would happily sacrifice the life I have if called to in the name of family or country.
..... as told to Anahita