You don’t need to worry about a theme or colour combination — as long as you like them, they will work. This piece of advice was handed down by jeweller and royal, Hanut Singh of Kapurthala, to Amrita Gandhi, on one of her many visits to the homes of royals. “I have been to around 30 former princely states or more,” says Gandhi who happens to be the great-granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi. The book, Live Like a Maharaja, to be launched next Wednesday at Amethyst, draws from her travels for her show Royal Reservation that aired on NDTV Good Times about five years ago. However, Gandhi insists that it is not an extension of the show. “The show was a travelogue. But the book is a lifestyle guide. It has ideas and royal takeaways, with a lot of anecdotes from my travels,” she clarifies.
Featuring royal names like Raghavendra Rathore, Saif Ali Khan, Hanut Singh, Radhikaraje Gaekwad of Baroda, Esra Jah of Hyderabad and Rajyashree Kumari of Bikaner, among others, the book is a complete guide on how someone can convert even a small flat into a royal space. “There are guidelines on how to make a windowless room look large, how to make a crowd pleasing mock fish dish, wardrobe secrets from Saif Ali Khan who talks about his staples and even a secret pickle recipe handed down to Shobhal Singh of Ajaigarh,” says Gandhi, who, after her travels, fell in love with the use of fabrics on walls. “I don’t upholster them with fabric. Instead, I frame large pieces of fabric and hang them on walls,” she says, adding that the most unexpected fabric/colour that she found was the pink ikat that adroned the sofas and walls of Adil Ahmed’s home.
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She shares a few tips for small spaces that she picked up from the expert on interiors: “If you don’t have a window, you can use a large tapestry that depicts the elements — such as the tree of life — in your space,” she says, adding that two large, identical, neutral sofas with bolsters, will add a royal touch and big mirrors will add depth to the room. Gandhi also suggests trying to reuse something old, citing an example. “Rishma Kaur of Patiala transferred the embroidery from one of her grandmothers’ heirloom saris to a lehenga and then onto a coat,” says Gandhi, who is working on “another writing project” that she refuses to share too much about. “It is fiction, and yes, there is a royal connection,” is all she allows.
Live Like a Maharaja (`699) will be unveiled on August 13 at Amethyst. Deta-ils: 9840438608
— Ryan Peppin