From dancing in hit Pakistani films to designing home accessories in the US, popular actress Kavita has travelled a long way. Now, she is travelling further. She has gone into the construction business in the UK and hopes to open an office in Dubai.
Kavita is the deputy chairperson of Doria Holding Group Ltd., a Manchester-based enterprise that incorporates long-established companies. "We do major projects in the UK. We are now meeting top people in big construction companies in the UAE.
I want to work closely with them, even open an office in Dubai. I'll work as a sub-contractor and bring skilled manpower out of South Asia," she says, during a recent visit to the city.
The thirty something former heroine is quick to accept construction has nothing to do with acting. That is exactly the point, she says, stressing that she gets bored very quickly and needs something new and different fairly often. "I love challenges, they move me forward. I feel if there are no challenges then life is not worth it," Kavita smiles, flinging her long brown hair out of her eyes.
Kavita quit her film career seven-eight years ago. She remembers clearly how it began.
"I joined films when I was only 11 years old because I insisted. My mother, Mehtab Banu, wrote the stories. My father, Tayyab Hussain Rizvi, produced and distributed the films. I did light, bubbly romantic comedies. My sister Sangeeta and I made a great pair. We had hit films like 'Ishq Ishq', 'Miyan Biwi Raazi' and 'Thodi Si Bewafaai'. Then my sister got married and my father fell ill with throat cancer. I stopped acting in films, preferring to spend time with my father while he was being treated in UK."
After a gap of around a year, she began her second innings in films. "Satish Anand, an Indian producer and distributor and a cousin of Juhi Chawla (Indian film star), offered me roles in his films which had heroines from Turkey, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh - all over the world. I acted in films like 'Manila Ki Bijliyan', 'Aalmi Jasoos', 'Manila Ke Jaanbaz', 'Barood Ki Chhaon'. These were all hits in Pakistan. I changed my image completely, moving from a romantic to an action heroine," Kavita recalls.
Then again there was a break in her film career. There was a loss of popularity in Urdu films, she says, while Punjabi movies became the rage. "When I was offered roles in Punjabi films, I didn't know whether I could do it. I did not speak the language and I wasn't built like the popular heroines of the day. But then I thought I'd accept the challenge."
So, she learnt her script, picked up the accent from watching other actors and did Punjabi films 'Siren', 'Paani', 'Dakait' and 'Khudabaksh' with full gusto - the dances, the high drama and everything.
Then, Kavita says, she decided to quit. "There, was no scandal, no flops. I left the film industry when I was at the top. I kept thinking, is this my life - getting up in the morning learning my lines, doing sensuous dances? I decided I'm going to give it all up."
So, the actress went off to the US. Specifically to New York where her brother was based. "Ali was into dry cleaning and construction. He had a friend who was in home accessories. I went to the friend's showroom in New York one day. They said, "we've just fired our designer, can you draw this design for us because we need to fax it immediately?" I thought I've never taken a pen out to write anything except my autograph, but why not? As I said, I love challenges. So I sat down and drew out the designs."
And then we were in business. The home accessories travelled to gift show across the US. Today, VUI is based in New York with factories in Moradabad and New Delhi. It supplies wares to top stores in the US and UK.
"Once the business started doing well, again it all became a routine. My heart was not in it anymore." So Kavita moved interest and country. Went to the UK and rushed headlong into construction.
Kavita plans to channel a major portion of the money to charity work and children are her priority as she claims that she can die for them.