“I am what I am, not what I ought to be, not what I should be”
For Maureen Wadia, this sentence is more than just a string of words, it is her gusto.
For the world, Maureen Wadia’s story is the stuff dreams are made of. She introduced middle-class India to the world of glamour, sexuality, sex and, of course, the unforgettable Dream Lover almost three decades ago. A former air hostess, who heads Gladrags Magazine, married Bombay Dyeing's Nusli Wadia, and have two sons: Ness and Jehangir.However, this spunky passionate and unusually candid corporate wife wanted an identity of her own and she fought a long lonely battle to find her own voice and when she finally did, she made sure the world took notice.
"In India, if you are married to somebody who is an industrialist or somebody who is fairly famous, you become excess baggage. I decided if you can’t beat him, you may as well join him," Maureen told CNBC-TV18 in an interview that aired on May 12, 2007.
Nusli Wadia, an Indian-born British Parsi businessman, entrepreneur and the chairman of the Wadia Group, supported Maureen.
"Nusli was very encouraging. In fact, my tryst with glamour really began after Air India and my modelling, was when I took over the advertising of Bombay Dyeing," she recollected.Around 1986, when the television had just forayed into Indian homes, Bombay Dyeing came up with its Dream Lover campaign. The ad generated mass hysteria, as did Karan Kapoor, son of veteran actors Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kendal.
"I only learnt recently that girls thought that every time they undid a Bombay Dyeing towel or a sheet, Karan Kapoor would pop out of it like a genie," she said jokingly.
But it wasn't a cakewalk for Maureen to launch such a bold ad at a time when the Indian advertising industry was trying to build its niche.
"When I did the Bombay Dyeing campaign with Karan Kapoor and Lisa Ray, even when I did the first beauty pageant, I am perceived to be a threat for people who have been in the business for like a 100 years which is so crazy, that you don’t run my ads and things like that. India is such a big country, there is room for everybody in it."
According to Maureen, it is extremely difficult for any woman, who has a so-called high profile image, to carve an image for oneself.
"I think there are a couple of things wrong with this, any woman who is moderately attractive and has a brain in her head is considered a threat. It is very difficult to prove that behind glamour there is intelligence."
And Maureen soon realised this fact. She wanted to build an image of her own, different from the one she was bestowed with as Nusli Wadia’s wife."Yes, 30 years to be known as Maureen Wadia. I soon realised that if I am just going to be Mrs Nusli Wadia, am I going to sit at home and cook the dinner every night and frankly I can’t fry an egg. However, nobody has ever said, I was good at any other things I have been good at."