Hindustan Times - Brunch - - Front Page - by Supriya Sharma pho­to­graphs by Roberto Ferri supriya.sharma@ hin­dus­tan­ Fol­low @DoNotRam­ble on Twit­ter

Read about her fairy-tale life in Italy

Exclusive pic­tures of her daugh­ter

Madhu Sapre is go­ing to be very busy this week. She hasha to fi­nalise a theme for a beach par­typa (“Dis­ney’s Frozen is quite pop­u­lar, but I’m think­ing maybe The Jun­gle Book?”), ar­range dec­o­ra­tions­deco and props ac­cord­ingly, de­cide on the cake, fix the menu (can­dyfloss and pop­corn are musts, she’s been told) and make sure ev­ery­thing is per­fect. Her daugh­ter, Indira, turns four on May 10 and noth­ing less than the best will do. “I am get­ting all her friends to­gether for the party,” says Sapre, 44, her voice ris­ing in ex­cite­ment. “I’m hop­ing it is sunny on Tues­day and the kids can play on the beach.” Sapre, one of In­dia’s first su­per­mod­els and Miss In­dia (1992), lives with her hus­band, Ital­ian busi­ness­man Gian Maria Emenda­tori, and daugh­ter, Indira, in Ric­cione, a small town on the east coast of Italy. She met Emenda­tori through mu­tual friends while he was in In­dia on a hol­i­day. They got mar­ried in 2001, af­ter which she moved to Ric­cione. “It is a beau­ti­ful beach town with a pop­u­la­tion of about 30,000 – pre­dom­i­nantly Ital­ian,” says Sapre. “It has taken me all these years to make friends in the com­mu­nity and for them to get to know me.” Given the hec­tic life she had led in Mum­bai, the change cer­tainly was huge. While she con­tin­ued do­ing

‘‘Indira speaks gib­ber­ish with a twang and pre­tends she is speak­ing Marathi. She does that in front of other kids to show she knows an­other lan­guage’’

‘‘As a par­ent, it's im­por­tant to dis­ci­pline kids with­out break­ing their spirit’’

fash­ion shows and shoots off and on and even made her Bol­ly­wood de­but with Kaizad Gus­tad’s em­i­nently for­get­table Boom (2003), Sapre took on the chal­lenges of her new life with the en­thu­si­asm of a mil­i­tary re­cruit.


“Like In­di­ans, Ital­ians love to talk,” says Sapre, who bought a copy of Learn Ital­ian in Three Months to pre­pare for her new life. “And they talk fast. For days, weeks and months, I used to just watch peo­ple talk at lunches and din­ners, not un­der­stand­ing a thing,” she says.

Her lan­guage queries were ad­dressed to Emenda­tori and later Sapre went to her hus­band’s teacher to clar­ify her doubts. “I can say con­fi­dently that I now speak Ital­ian very well,” says the multi-lin­gual Ma­ha­ras­trian, who can also speak Hindi, a lit­tle San­skrit and English. She taught her­self English by read­ing clas­sics and lis­ten­ing to the news af­ter she be­came a model be­cause “I couldn’t speak English and ev­ery­one made fun of my ac­cent”.

To­day, a mix of Ital­ian and English is spo­ken at home. Indira, says Sapre, has heard her con­verse in Marathi with her mother dur­ing their vis­its to In­dia, but she only un­der­stands some words. “Some­times Indira speaks gib­ber­ish with a twang and pre­tends she is speak­ing Marathi,” laughs Sapre. “She does that in front of other kids to show she knows an­other lan­guage. So now I have to start teach­ing her Marathi se­ri­ously.”


It was around 2005, Sapre says, that she started think­ing of start­ing a fam­ily. It took six years for her to con­ceive. “We thought we wouldn’t be able to have a child, though we hadn’t found a rea­son why I wasn’t get­ting preg­nant.”

Sapre is a stay-at-home par­ent by choice. Her hus­band trav­els a lot for work and she “didn’t want Indira to grow up with a nanny”. At times, she wishes her daugh­ter could have a sib­ling. “If I could help it, I would have a house full of kids,” she says.

Sapre has man­aged to achieve what most par­ents can only dream of – to get her kid to eat ev­ery- thing. “I never ran af­ter her to make her eat,” Sapre says. She cred­its this to mak­ing her kid fol­low a rou­tine. “She has play time, sleep time, eat­ing time, and knows what to ex­pect from her day.”

Her par­ent­ing phi­los­o­phy is to let the child be her own per­son. “At times, she tears pages from books and I let her do that. It is im­por­tant to dis­ci­pline chil­dren with­out break­ing their spirit. I don’t want my child to be what I want her to be. I want her to be the best she is.”

Most im­por­tantly, Sapre wants Indira to have a sim­ple up­bring­ing like her own, which, she be­lieves, helped her stay grounded as a su­per­model. “I was close to my par­ents. I want her to have that.”


Given their love for food, wine and a good laugh, Ital­ians are like Pun­jabis, says Sapre. “They love life. My hus­band and his fam­ily have a vine­yard apart from their gelato busi­ness. We throw par­ties ev­ery now and then. Thanks to them, I’ve learnt to ap­pre­ci­ate good food.” She has also be­come quite a pro in the kitchen. “I can cook all Ital­ian sauces and some dishes,” Sapre says. “I got recipes from my momin-law and my hus­band’s grand­mother.” Her in-laws in turn have de­vel­oped a taste for In­dian food. “My fa­ther-in-law and sis­ter-in-law love chicken curry and keema.” There is hardly any traf­fic in Ric­cione. It is a tourist hub in the sum­mer, but even then the pop­u­la­tion grows to just over a lakh. When Sapre wakes up in the morn­ing to make cof­fee for her­self and ready Indira for school, she can see the sea from the bal­cony of her bed­room. But she says she still misses Mum­bai. “I watched The Lunch­box yes­ter­day, and I started cry­ing,” she says. “The dab­bawal­las and the train rides... I was raised in And­heri and trav­elled in trains, ate street food. I miss all that. It is squeaky clean here, but when I visit Bom­bay, I make it a point to go eat vada pao and pani puri,” she says. Shoot­ing for the Brunch cover has made her all nos­tal­gic, says Sapre. Does she miss the cam­era? Would she like to re­turn to the life she left be­hind? “If I get a good op­por­tu­nity, why not?” says Sapre. “You only live once.”

Hair: Sa­muela Mag­nani Clothes & Makeup: Madhu Sapre


1&2 Madhu and Indira at the beach in Ric­cione. 3&4 On a fam­ily hol­i­day to St Moritz, Switzer­land. 5 Cel­e­brat­ing Indira’s third birth­day in Hong Kong 3





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