Anand Ahuja: “Sonam and I can’t go for longer than 2 weeks without seeing each other”
Talk about love in the 21st century
One of the most loved-up couples in Bollywood right now, Anand Ahuja and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, have their own share of struggles to face. The two are based out of different cities, and to make sure he’s spending more time in Sonam’s hometown, Anand has expanded his entrepreneurial ventures — the multi-designer sneaker boutique VegNonVeg and the contemporary fashion label Bhane — to Mumbai with a brand new store that opened this weekend. While it still means that the couple will have to deal with distance, Anand has figured out some tricks that help him and Sonam sustain their relationship. We chatted with Anand at the store launch about Sonam, sneakers and style.
ELLE: Now that you have a store in Mumbai, how are you going to divide your time between Delhi and Mumbai?
Anand Ahuja (AA): I love Mumbai. Even before I met Sonam, I would be visiting the city — my best friends from college live here, so I’d be in and out of the city all the time. But my office is still in Delhi; I end up being in the capital on the weekdays and in Mumbai on the weekends. It also depends on Sonam’s shoot schedule, which is a little restrictive.
The VegNonVeg and Bhane store in Mumbai
ELLE: Coming to that — how is the long distance relationship going with Sonam?
AA: Long distance can get tiring, but we’re lucky that Delhi, London and Mumbai are all home, for work. It could be worse, but it obviously could be better. It’s hard to not be together, especially after you get around to being married and you want to have that time. But Sonam’s got a hectic schedule this year — she’s got four films coming up. But we make it work. We have certain tricks — for example, we always have a meal together over Skype. If she’s in India and I’m in London, then we do my lunch and her dinner, or she’ll do her lunch and my breakfast. So those small things — even if you keep 30-40 minutes aside — changes everything, because you get that dedicated time. It’s that consistency you build over time which can really help.
When we first met, we would go as long as three to five weeks without seeing each other, and I realised that Sonam gets really impatient after two weeks. So, now we try to not make it go longer than two weeks, and taking short trips help in that sense.
ELLE: Your love for sneakers is quite well known. In fact, we’ve seen Sonam turn into a sneakerhead herself.
AA: It’s funny — I often tease her that I added a cool factor to her. She had a few sneakers, but they weren’t so nice. Her workout sneakers were all beat up, and they were small for her. We fixed that, pretty early on. She understands well-made stuff, so she doesn’t care about what’s in hype and what’s in trend. She is currently obsessing over the Nike Flyknit Racer — she has narrow feet, so the narrow shoe works for her — and she has three pairs in white, two pairs in a multicoloured shade and two in black. Then there’s the Adidas Samba, which is also a narrow shoe. She has other shoes that I buy her, but these have become her go-to sneakers.
ELLE: And what about you? What’s one pair that you would never let go of?
AA: The Adidas Futurecraft that Sonam got me — they’re 3D printed, and they’re really hard to find. I love innovation in shoes. I grew up playing basketball, and I would always be looking out for lightweight shoes; that’s where my love for sneakers comes from. Then, there’s another pair I really love, which is the Nike Flyknit Racer in a multicoloured shade — the same one as Sonam.
To the love of my life and the kindest gentlest soul I know, a very very happy birthday! You make my world better and I’m so blessed you were born today. “We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.” Luciano De Crescenzo #everydayphenomenal #30072018 #alwaysandforever @anandahuja
ELLE: Let’s talk about your entrepreneurial venture, Bhane. You’ve mentioned that the fashion label stands for empowerment, universality and individuality. Where did the idea germinate from?
AA: When I came back to India after being in the US for 9 years, I realised that the style in India had really evolved. And I was so happy to see it, but I saw that there was no brand that was speaking to that audience. So that’s where Bhane was born. It’s targeted at the young, creative, modern Indian boy or girl. And that’s what the idea is, to create your own language by wearing the product in your own style.
ELLE: And what would you say is the inspiration behind the designs, considering that you don’t use logos in your products?
AA: The design should speak for itself, that’s the main philosophy behind Bhane. The logo can become something that you become too dependent on. Without a logo on a garment, you really have to put a lot of thought into the design.
ELLE: Considering that Sonam and Rhea share a strong sartorial sense, do they pitch in for Bhane?
AA: Yes — they help me ideate, but not as much for design as they do for strategies. They understand style; their inputs help a lot. For example, I wasn’t so keen on the space for the store in Mumbai — it’s on the first floor, and I was looking for space on the ground floor, but Sonam convinced me. So we definitely have a lot of conversation about work. In fact, the first conversation that Sonam and I had, part of how we fell for each other, was about work. We were talking over the phone about my experiences with Bhane, and she was talking about what she had got going on. We talk about all that a lot, even now.
ELLE: So, are we going to see a collaboration between Bhane and Rheson?
AA: At our wedding, it just so happened that Bhane made these T-shirts for some of the guests where Rhea made the graphics. So that was our first collaboration. But it would be cool to do something between Bhane and Rheson; there’s nothing in the works right now, but at some point it has to happen.
ELLE: Coming to your sense of style — you’re definitely into athleisure. Sonam has always kept it classic and chic, but of late we’ve seen her borrow a lot from your style.
AA: It’s true, I’ve started dressing more classic, and she’s started dressing more casual. And the great thing is that we both like it. I really like classic styles and classic colours, but it’s nice to see that conversion.
ELLE: What else have you learnt from her?
AA: Sonam’s very decisive; she’s sees everything in black and white. I’m the opposite — I’m very indecisive and flexible. So she helps me be more decisive, and I help her be more open-minded and see both sides of a situation. And I think that’s a nice way to play off each other.
ELLE: Who would you say is your inspiration?
AA: When Sonam and I first spoke, I was inspired by her, and that’s something I always wanted in a partner. She’s been working since she was 17-18 years; she’s gone through so much, and she’s built herself that way. I met Sonam two and a half years ago, and before that, around five-six years ago, I didn’t know Anil Kapoor was her dad. I knew them both as actors, but not part of the same family. So Sonam is definitely where I drive my inspiration from. Even her dad, he’s all about work, and her mom is so smart, she runs the house. My dad and Sonam are similar in that way — they’re both very competitive. My mom, on the other hand, is the support system that made my dad who he is today.