Anitha Kholay - Race cars and haute couture

An international rally driver, a designer, a model and actress, amongst other things, Anita Kholay gives “multitasking” a whole new meaning.

Winner of Ms Bangalore 1998. An international rally driver and the first Indian woman to step into the international circuit. Winner of Malaysian Rally 2016 in the RC5 category. A fashion designer, an actress and a model. An entrepreneur. A wife and mother. Anitha Kholay dons all her hats with determination and style. Here, she talks about her multiple roles and her love for travel.

1) Breaking the stereotypes  – an Indian woman rally champ. How did that come about?

Anitha: I ventured into Motorsports in 1994 as a navigator on 2 wheelers. I had just graduated from high school when I set foot into the sport. Initially, it was just the adrenaline rush and loads of fun to be handling fast cars and bikes and to take part in the race events. Eventually, winning became a habit. I wanted to take it up a notch and hence in 2003 I formed my own ladies team and started driving national rallies (Indian national rally championships). I have also taken part in many drag races, hill climbs, autocross and won most of them.

During my college days, I won the Ms Bangalore crown and soon after I finished college, I had my own design studio. I have been designing IPL cheerleader outfits since 2009.

In a nutshell – Fashion is my profession and motorsport is my passion and I am equally dedicated to all the things I do

2) Tell us a bit about the designer Anitha Kholay.

A: My brand The Designer Ensemble was established in Bangalore in 2001. We design both women’s and men’s wear which is a mix of luxury and urban chic with paradoxical textiles and signature styles. We have styled celebrities like Mandira Bedi, Anushka Sharma, Suman Ranganathan, Kirti Reddy, Cyrus Sahukar, Gaurav Kapoor, Prateek Babbar, etc. My forte is western wear, Indian wear and sports. Apart from designing the IPL cheerleader uniforms, we’ve also designed the IPL umpire uniforms and Kingfisher calendar model costumes.

3) You have travelled all around the world. What does travel mean to you and how has it impacted you as a person?

A: Travelling is very important firstly to bond with the family/loved ones and make unique memories. It is very important to me because it is a great opportunity to explore new places and understand new cultures, their way of living, the language they speak and also their food. It is a great way to unwind and it is highly necessary to cut off from all the stress every single chance you get.

4) What is your typical travel style?

A: My travel plans include nearly 3 international trips in a year and it is mostly with family and the destinations are chosen entirely different from one another. It will be either a beach holiday, a snow destination, a destination with a wonder of the world, an adventure sport holiday, a destination which hosts a rally or exclusive shopping. I prefer trying one idea at a time. I never preferred packaged tours.

5) Which are some of your favourite travel destinations and what fascinates you about these? Tell us one of your ‘Discover the real’ moments. places in Europe for the scenery and breathtaking experiences.

A: London, mostly for shopping and nightlife. Islands like Maldives and Mauritius just for relaxation and to cut off from the world. Melbourne, Sydney, Australia mostly for beaches and water & adventure sports.

6) A rally champ, designer, model, wife, mother… how do you juggle such diverse roles with ease?

A: My passion for cars and eye for fashion – both are innate and I began at a very early stage of my life. I made use of time and opportunities in the most appropriate way and made things happen. I am a risk-taker and would like to give it my best shot and accomplish all the things I am passionate about. With a well-planned day, one can find a lot of time to work towards various activities. I don’t believe in wasting time or being idle. That habit has helped me multitask. While planning and creating time for various roles is ideal, it is also important to pace yourself to be completely focussed and dedicated to one task at a time.

7) What does being a woman mean to you?

A: It is very tough yet beautiful to be a woman. When the going gets tough, the responsibility increases. Hence it makes us strong, mature and sensitive all at the same time.

8) What are the challenges you face as a woman in India and how do you overcome them?

A: In my case failure was not the stepping stone to success. My first success paved the way to subsequent success stories and I have always had the urge to successfully finish what I’ve started.

But not to forget, I am in a man’s sport and especially when winning becomes a habit, there were a lot of times when people wanted to socially undermine everything that I did. My positivity has helped me overcome all uncertainties. I also want to give credits to my strong beliefs.

Constantly reinventing myself and challenging myself has helped me achieve a milestone like the Malaysian International rally win in 2016.

9) Your words of wisdom for today’s woman.

A: There is no such thing as failure. Each individual is a combination of their physical strengths and mental abilities. Choose activities that work for you best because your work is a reflection of your personality. Never let go of the right opportunities.

Always remember strong women encourage each other and elevate each other’s spirits!

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