Our Real Women series is beyond fashion. It is an insight into not just the personal style we celebrate, but also the Zariin women themselves. A piece of jewelry or an outfit takes a different form on different people, and works well to accentuate and deliver their self-expression. A Zariin muse is eclectic and she skilfully balances and manages various facets to her life. She’s a million different people from one day to the next playing all her roles in symphony of sorts. These women are our biggest inspirations and our collections are driven by the needs of these women. These real women are adding a strong dimension to the Zariin story telling by opening their trove of delightful stories to us. In focus is Madhurima Mukherjee – she truly epitomizes the power woman title. Her strong sense of style and attitude will leave you inspired.
You sit on many laurels. Often referred to as the “Queen of the Capital markets”, and many iconic deals to your fame, your journey has been exemplary. What next?
Thank you for your appreciation. However, when it comes to labels such as “Queen of Capital Markets”, real life resembles reel life quite closely sometimes. The corporate world is not far from Game of Thrones in that respect and there is always someone younger, fitter, more eager to dethrone someone and claim the spot. People love to bestow titles and are equally happy to strip it away.
As a corporate lawyer, you are unfortunately as good as your last email. For me being a corporate lawyer is about the learnings, the intellectual challenge, the survival in a male dominated universe, interacting with clients and practicing the law. I continue on that journey and I survive by not taking myself or these laurels too seriously. The race is long and ultimately, it’s with yourself!
To be a woman in the so called man’s world – the world of lawyers?
To be fair, I have been very privileged in my journey as a lawyer in India. I worked in the most prestigious law firms in India, with equal opportunity being the baseline. However, the corporate world is not so kind sometimes. There are a lot of men! Men, especially Indian men, don’t believe that a woman is in a position to give them any advice, let alone legal advice. To top that the capital markets is a small club of mostly privileged, rich men. Therefore, initially it did take grit and hard work to keep at it. But again, once people understand the value you can bring to the table, gender prejudices do take a back seat.
More than the general gender bias, I think being a mother in the corporate world and legal profession is hard. The demands of the profession and corporate world don’t allow for women to take time off for pregnancies and children. I have been seriously judged for leaving office at 5 p.m. just because I wanted to spend a few hours with my kids. Even though I have worked through the night, weekends, travelled on my children’s birthdays and labored on to ensure all deliverables have been met. No one has the time to wait and people’s memories are very short.
Spell out a usual day at work.
It’s everything Dilbert describes it to be. It’s coming into work, quick cup of coffee, discussing the day’s agenda with my team, calls, drafting legal documents, reading the law (which is the fun part), mundane administrative work (which thankfully my excellent secretary helps with). Rush, rush, rush to finish and get back home to deal with homework, which is a much bigger challenge these days than any legal conundrum.
How do you balance? A full time consuming job and your family. Please share your life hacks.
I think I lucked out. I could only manage due to my amazing husband, who is always there. He can replace me any day as a parent. As a lawyer, he also understands the demands of my job. It is impossible to have a work-life balance without a solid support system at home.
No quick hacks unfortunately, just some thoughts:
• Don’t quit, if you have a choice. The guilt fades and children grow up.
• Children always need their mothers. But children adjust and grow more independent without helicopter mothers obsessing over them.
• They say it takes a village to raise a child. Build your own village.
• When working, give it your best shot. Don’t use children as an excuse. People automatically judge you less.
Please define your work wear for us and how do you differentiate it with occasion wear.
Lawyers have serious work-wear. Formal, solid colours. Traditional, conservative, to ensure people take us seriously. So, I make my occasion-wear fun. My style is eclectic. I love Indian colours like fuchsia, orange, bright blues and greens. The bolder, the better!
We love your saree collection. What does this garment mean to you?
It signifies everything in women which is left unsaid. Like Tagore’s poetry. It flows but yet its beauty is, in its fragility – in what it leaves to the imagination.
How relevant is a saree today?
Young women seem to move away from sarees to more western-wear or modern Indian wear such as salwar suits or lehengas. But the movements such as ‘100 saree challenge’ has brought back focus on its elegance and beauty.
I personally feel if an Indian woman wants to entice a man, she should wear a saree. A woman’s beauty lies more in what she hides, rather than the skin she exposes.
The three sarees that you wore for the shoot. Any stories behind them?
Being Bengali, my personal taste is sarees tend to be simple. I don’t quite subscribe to the Manish Malhotra school of Bollywood sarees with bling and embellishments. The red and blue ‘gamcha” saree, is typical of a Bengal cotton saree, with the vivid colours and checks. The colours of the pink and orange handwoven linen spells fun but elegance to me. Both were impulse-buys on my various birthdays.
The black and white checked “Raw Mango” saree is a Diwali gift from my husband. Lawyer colours, but my favourite.
You are an avid traveller – favourite travel memory?
“If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa” John Hemingway. Africa. Everyone should go to Africa.
As a voracious book reader – your current favourite book?
That’s a tough one! Lately, I have taken to reading children’s literature with my children. My current favourite books are ‘Echo’ by Pam Munoz Ryan, ‘Wonder’ R.J. Palaccio. Must read for adults as well as children.
Your relationship with jewelry?
It’s my one true love.
Your take on Zariin. Which Zariin collection resonates the most with your personality? Any favourites?
Zariin is a perfect blend of elegance and fun. It speaks to me. I find some Zariin jewelry to wear for every occasion. While my penchant for Zariin jewelry is insatiable and I can never have enough, the pearl collection is my personal favourite for all occasions.
Would you wear Zariin to work?
Yes, of course. I wear Zariin almost every day to work. It’s elegant and is perfect for work-wear.