An opportunity to model for the Kingfisher Calendar opened the path to the glamour world for Karishma Kotak. Born and brought up in Northwest London to Indian parents who had their own business, Karishma lived in India briefly when she went to a boarding school in the hills.
Later, she went back to London, and graduated with a degree in advertising and marketing. She was 20 when she moved to Mumbai, and within a couple of months, was cast as a swimsuit model. There was no looking back.
“I was a very confident, fearless girl,” says Karishma of her younger self. “You tread with more caution once you’re older.”
Soon, various modeling offers came up – from skincare brands to fashion and jewellery – and Karishma became a known face in the advertising circuit and in fashion magazines. This was later followed by a few film roles. But it was Bigg Boss that really made her a household name.
It happened in the year 2012. Though Karishma’s father was ailing back in London, he convinced his daughter to take the offer to appear on the reality TV show in India. She went for it, and later learnt she was repeatedly mentioned in the news for typical Bigg Boss preoccupations such as not sharing her bed with her fellow contestant Niketan Madhok, because it would make her mum uncomfortable.
“Being in the Bigg Boss house is like a course in Vipassana meditation – you are cut away from the entire world and have no clue what is happening outside,” she says wryly.
But then tragedy struck. Karishma had to make an unscheduled exit a few weeks later when her father passed away. The experience was a challenge for her, both professionally and personally.
Refusing to qualify it as either positive or negative, she says people in the Bigg Boss House are after all normal people. “It’s as real as it gets,” she admits. “I was in the House for 80 days, which is a lot of time to be away from your life.”
Soon after her reality TV experience, Karishma was offered the role of TV show host for Indian Premier League 2013. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and it opened the gateway for her in live cricket reportage. “What I love about the Twenty20 format is that anything can happen – it’s such a fun sport,” she laughs.
Since then she has been TV anchor and live interviewer for many other cricket leagues, and this month she will anchor the 2018 edition of Cricket on Ice Trophy Tournament in St Moritz, Switzerland.
Not one for too much partying, the 35-year-old prefers to watch movies and cook dinner for friends to unwind. Fond of reading both fiction and non-fiction, she is also addicted to watching Netflix shows and keeps her iPad handy during her travels. She feels blessed to have the best of both her worlds – UK and India – and believes there are no shortcuts in life, especially for women.
“No matter where you are in the world, success doesn’t come easy. You have to work hard and master your craft so that you’re ready when the opportunity arises,” she says, adding in a moment of candour: “I hope to be remembered as kind and loyal.”