Celeb Diaries

Beauty with a Soul

Meet Manasi Parekh-Gohil, one of the most popular faces of the small screen, who is also making waves on the big screen.

Text: Benaifer J. Mirza

The girl-next-door charm, looks that not only please the eyes but touch the soul, too, and an abundance of talent. These are just a few of the many things that define Manasi Parekh-Gohil. Actor, singer, producer, and content creator, this multi-faceted lady is currently basking in the (extremely well-deserved) glory of her brilliant performance in the recent film, Uri: The Surgical Strike. Speaking about it, a very excited Manasi shares, “Life post Uri… has been quite amazing, thanks to the outstanding and overwhelming response that it has received. My role and performance have been appreciated a lot and I am quite happy about it. I have worked across diverse mediums in my career, but I think that being a part of a successful box office film gives you another high! The film has definitely been a benchmark at all levels.”

In a conversation with Hair, Manasi lets us on her hair and skincare routine, favourite products, guilty pleasures and a lot more.

What are your earliest memories of decking up?

It goes back to a fancy dress competition when I was approximately five years old. I remember how my mom dressed me up as a punk rockstar! She made me wear different coloured wigs, and had tied my hair into braids and given me an Afro look…with pink lipstick! I looked all funky! Since my childhood years, my mom used to love dressing me up in different characters. It was great fun.

What’s your hair care regime like?

When I was a little girl, my mom oiled my hair and made this special homemade boiled shampoo to keep my hair in good shape. But when I started going to college and then working, I didn’t really take as much care of my hair. Though, now I’ve got back to an excellent routine. I make sure to eat the right vitamins for my hair and use this particular ayurvedic hair powder that has different kinds of herbs. I oil my hair regularly with an excellent cold-pressed coconut oil. I don’t use the hairdryer unless really needed.

What are your favourite hair products?

I love the products from Kerala, such as the Akshanga Thailam, which is an excellent hair oil for hair loss. The cold-pressed coconut hair oil and amlashikakai shampoo from Isha Yoga are great products, too. Coming to international brands, I like the ones from the South Korean brand, Ballvic. I use the shampoo, hair pack and moisturising liquid (to stimulate hair growth) from Ballvic. And, I used argan oil serum to keep the frizz down.

What does your skincare routine constitute?

My skincare routine is simple. I moisturise my face with a vitamin C serum. I also use a good sun-block and a bit of lip balm for my lips to keep them hydrated. When I am applying make-up, I ensure to apply good quality products such as Bobbi Brown or Tarte Cosmetics. I remove my make-up with Dermalogica’s Micellar Water. Kiehl’s make-up remover is also excellent. And, before going to bed, I ensure that my face is absolutely clean, without even any moisturiser on it. I just let my skin breathe throughout the night.

Do you use any natural products and packs?

I only use natural products and packs, as I think that the more organic you go, the better it works for you. While organic products do take a little long to show results, it is better to go the simple and natural way, especially when it comes to the hair and skin. One of the traditional hair and skin routines that have been passed down from my grandmother and mother to me is that of chane ka aata (gram flour) mixed with a bit of fruit, or just some haldi (turmeric) and dahi (yoghurt). This works as a great facepack. For my hair, I regularly use a pack that consists of chane ka atta mixed with a Kerala hairpack that has shikakai, amla and several other things that are good for the hair. This is pretty much what I do, and avoid overdoing anything.

Are you a spa and salon junkie?

I love indulging at spas and salons! My husband and I love trying out new massages and techniques at various spas. The best one that we have been to till date is the Ananda in the Himalayas Spa in Rishikesh. It was an outstanding experience. Right from the massages to the clean-ups and even the food—everything is amazing! We have tried the Thai massage and other therapies at various places abroad. The stone massage is my absolute favourite.

Tell us your craziest hair story.

The one thing that I can never forget was when I had coloured my hair yellow. It was for my first show, on MTV. My hair was so yellow that when I was travelling around the city, kids would actually come to me and ask me if they could touch my hair! The second is when I was 25 and woke up one day and just chopped off the front portion of my hair and made this weird, uneven fringe. It looked terrible on me.

Have you ever made some terrible haircare or styling mistake?

In my 20s, I was unaware of any haircare routine that I should follow, and because of that I didn’t really end up taking care of my hair. Now of course, I have realised that one has to take good care of hair, and more so after pregnancy. Scalp is the main base and it needs to be well-hydrated. I didn’t realise this in the past. But, now, I am quite aware of it and thus take good care of my scalp.

Tell us more about how your pregnancy treated you?

My pregnancy was a breeze! I had fabulous nine months of just being on my feet and working, partying, and making sure that I have loads of fun. My hair was amazing during pregnancy. I had shiny, thick curls throughout, thanks to all the multi-vitamins that I was prescribed and the happy hormones that my body was producing. After pregnancy, my hair became weird because I was feeding my baby for a year and also owing to the body’s hormonal changes. I lost a lot of hair and then the new hair that I got was greying. My doctors told me that, at times, such things happen after child birth. Now it has started growing like before, and thus I’m taking good care of my hair by nurturing and nourishing it well.

What’s your fitness regime like?

I workout 4-5 times a week. I alternate between asthanga yoga, pilates, cardio and strength training. I do everything at home. Yes, I am very motivated and hence don’t need an instructor to push me to workout. Working out and exercising makes me feel happy and focussed. I do a 40-50-minute session every day and about 15-20 minutes of meditation early morning. I feel so happy when I start my day with a workout. What’s fun is that nowadays even my daughter works out with me.

What are your guilty pleasures on a cheat day?

For me, every day is a cheat day. I do not ever restrict or stop myself from eating. I eat well and make sure that I workout. My metabolism rate is high, so I don’t really put on weight. I love Thai- Asian food, Burmese khow suey, pizzas, South Indian and Gujarati food. And, of course, I love anything that my mom prepares because she is an amazing cook. Luckily, I’ve grown up in a family where food is taken seriously.

Who or what is your definition of ‘beauty’?

My definition of ‘beauty’ has evolved over time and once I saw more of the world. People who have the strength and courage to live life on their own terms and have a unique attitude of their own are beautiful. My mom and granny are such people who inspire me and are truly beautiful. Speaking about others, I am inspired by Priyanka Chopra; whatever she is doing is just fabulous. Her career choice, the milestones that she is setting and then reaching the top like a boss lady is wow. Then there is this whole tribe of filmmakers that I really admire, which includes Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti, Alankrita Srivastava and Nitya Mehra. I am in awe of these women and the kind of films they make. Their guts, vision and attempts really inspire me.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?

It has got to be when someone told me that motherhood really suits me and that I am a vibrant mother. Also, when someone told me that I am just getting better with age.

What are your hobbies and passions?

I love cooking, practising yoga, reading, travelling, spending time with my baby and singing songs with her. I love expressing myself as creatively as possible.

What’s your dream role, in terms of appearance and acting?

One is Salma Hayek’s portrayal in and as Frida (Kahlo). I love whatever Anne Hathaway does. I like the kind of roles that Konkona Sen Sharma portrays. I also liked Charlize Theron’s work in Monster. A dream movie would be Sunset Boulevard.

What’s next?

I just finished shooting for a Gujarati web series that I have acted in and also produced. It will be launching very soon. Then, I have shot for a short film for the international market that will be out soon. I have also done a few commercials, and a feature film which I will be producing. So, yes, a lot of exciting things are happening right now.

Your closing note for our readers?

Live by the mantra—less is more. Just do what your granny and mother did back in their times. Go organic and simple when it comes to beauty.

Images credits:

Styling: Gauravi Desai and Nupur Padhye

Make-up: Lochan Thakur

Hair: Bhavana Jain

Photography: Mrinmai Parab

Yellow maxi dress: Label Ritu Kumar

Lilac turtle neck & sequin skirt: Zara