Thirteen years ago, Mumbai-based Bhavna Jasra started ‘First Impressions’, an art shop, in which she hopes to make every memory of her clients count by creating something that they, whether a couple or young parents, can cherish forever. Because even as Bhavna puts it — there’s so much going on in life, time can pass by in a jiffy.
Right at the start of our interaction, Bhavna gives us a peek into her art. “My art involves casting of expressions of hands and feet in metal finishes like gold, silver and bronze. I then frame them to make memorable keepsakes for life,” she explains, adding that she’d chanced upon this concept in the UK, and was drawn to it when she was a mother-to-be.
Even then to her it had seemed a very beautiful way of preserving the lovely memories of a baby’s tiny hands and feet in the form of a keepsake to be cherished for a lifetime. “Being a mother-to-be myself, I could relate to the emotion and was sure there’d be many in India who’d feel the same way. Being a marketing consultant with a creative flair, I could see it as a viable business. I decided to learn the process, fine tune it to the Indian sentimentality and launch the business in India,” adds Bhavna.
The sweat and work of it
The artist–entrepreneur doesn’t whitewash the effort involved in the art process. “It’s definitely very meticulous and involves a lot of precision,” she begins. “So, supervision is important at every stage of making a piece.”
At the onset, says Bhavna, the impression of the subject is taken in an impression mousse imported from Italy. “And, honestly, to me, this stage is the most crucial one because the arrangement of the hands/feet determines the final look of the product,” she articulates. “The impression taken is then used to make the cast by baking the resin at various graded temperatures. The cast is then treated with various chemicals for longevity, after which it’s subjected to various desired metal finishes. Then, it’s lacquered using special chemicals to prevent oxidation of these metal finishes.”
Bhavna then explains that the framing process, which follows the above processes, is also very detailed, providing the final showcase for the cast. “It involves silk work, embroideries, Swarovski embellishments and picture prints, which are done by different departments but require immense co-ordination,” she adds.
As we wrap up our interaction, Bhavna shares her views on the cast-work she has done for some of her famous clients, giving us a sneak-peek into the celebs’ relationships. “It is through these experiences that I realise celebs are couples and parents first, and for them their relationships are most important,” states Bhavna.
Friends for life: Rana Daggubati and Miheeka
Though she’d posted the pictures of the couple’s cast on social media only recently, the actual casting had happened three weeks ago.
“When celebrities get married, friends and family of the couple have limited options of gifting. Similarly for Rana and Miheeka’a casting, one of his very close friends got in touch with me to create this perfect and intimate gift for the couple,” she says about her work with Rana, adding, “What I realised while working with them was that they are very good friends.”
Yin and Yang: Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone
“Not many get the opportunity to be with the celebrity couple on their wedding day and get to witness them at their candid best, but I was fortunate enough to be with Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone on their wedding day as I got their casts done. They are so much in love, yet witty. I still remember that after getting the casts done, I’d asked Ranveer for his choice of frames, to which he had replied, ‘Do you really want to discuss aesthetics with me?’ Deepika simply smiled and said, ‘It is better I look into that.’
Down to earth:
Jr NTR and Lakshmi Pranathi
“I will remember interacting with Jr NTR and Pranathi as my most embarrassing moments. It was Pranathi who got in touch with me to get their kids’ casting. I was not aware how big a star Jr NTR was, but my assistant who is Telugu was super excited. I had asked Jr NTR his name, to which he had laughed out loud and said, ‘You are the first person to ask me that question.’ Jr NTR is very humble and it’s impossible to know his star status while interacting with him,” she says, smiling.
A gift for all: Hardik Pandya and Natasa
“I had done castings for Hardik Pandya and Natasa, and they have loved it so much that they are planning to gift the concept to Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma,” Bhavna adds.
The most memorable of them all
There have been many memorable experiences in my journey. However, there are some people who get etched in your memory. One such is definitely our honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is radiant, humorous and very encouraging. I also made impressions of all the players that were a part of the Indian Cricket team that won the World Cup for India in 2011. Meeting and interacting with all the members of the winning team including Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli were truly memorable. Meeting the great Rajnikanth and experiencing his humbleness and grace is also something I will always cherish,” she says.