As Managing Director of fashion house Ritu Kimar, Amrish Kumar’s foray into sartorial seas could be attributed to his being brought up in highly creative climes- after all, his mother Ritu Kumar does happen to be the high priestess of fashion in the country. But as a musician and owner of a record label that strives to promote interesting genres, the businessman reveals that when it comes to music, it is a 100 percent Amrish.
When he took over as director of design house Ritu Kumar in 2001, Amrish Kumar went about corporatising the premier couture brand, backed by his proficiency in analytical finance and branding marketing, with a fire that came to fruition quite quickly.
Clearly, Kumar isn’t one of those clichéd star children.
And he doesn’t care to live in his mother Ritu Kumar’s rather stylish shadow. Because, not only has he made a name for himself by giving the family business a new direction, he is also a musician, having performed lead vocals with bands from Bombay and Delhi. And he also owns a record label that promotes indie music.
Amrish Kumar was just one among the millions of fans who sat transfixed when they saw Michael Jackson’s Thriller for the first time. “I was absolutely gobsmacked,” he recalled, “I don’t know if that’s what made me want to be a musician, but that’s the most definitive musical memory I have. Music has always been part of my life- it was very important to me even as a kid. I am a singer-songwriter, and in 2005 I suddenly had this brainwave to start a record label to promote genres that weren’t purely commercial.” Thus was born Mummy Daddy Records, with the aim to promote new genres of Indian urban music, which resulted in an album featuring the likes of Papon and Jalebi Cartel, with contribution from powerhouse bands such as Midival Punditz and Parikrama.
Kumar, who worked on the album for more than two years, also wrote a song ‘Zindagi’ for it. “As a songwriter, I never give myself a timeline. Sadly, I don’t have all the time in the world. Song writing for me isn’t a process- I sit with my guitar on most evenings and weekends, and experiment. Though I haven’t been able to dedicate a whole lot of time to music, thanks to my duties as MD of Ritu Kumar, I do hope to cut an album of my own work very soon; that’s my mission for now. It will be an album encompassing genres such as blues and reggae, with touches of electronica. Subir Malik from Parikrama will be helping me put it together.” Would he consider making music for Indian films? “If asked, then why not,” he said succinctly with the hint of a smile.
As director and designer at Ritu Kumar, one of the country’s fashion doyens, it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that Kumar is a force to reckon with. In fact, in a clime where, as an Assocham report says, the designer wear industry in India is likely to cross Rs 11,000 crore by 2020, riding a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 40 percent, his role in expanding and structuring the brand keeps him well on his toes. And the entrepreneur also has his work cut out with streamlining processes, establishing organisational structures, creating brands and building a retail footprint. He added, “I still do some designing too. As director I have to ensure that there is expansion, evolution and change every single year. People ask how it is to be working with my mother, and I say, there are challenges aplenty- a lot of ups and downs. The good part is, since I am always in an entrepreneurial atmosphere, I keep learning.” And what are his other pet passions? “Well, I love sports and travelling. I am very creative, so anything that indulges that side of me gets me excited,” he said.
Then, of course, as the cliché goes, he has one small dream; a song to sing.