Sudeshna Chatterjee: One Firangi Kolkatan
By A Correspondent
There comes a time in life when we begin to question ourselves and the purpose of our being. At one such turning point in ace singer, Sudeshna Chatterjee’s life, she decided to return home to Kolkata, after having lived in California for nearly two and a half decades. All her life, Sudeshna had been touching people with her music but she began to feel a deep longing to build lives and to support the under-privileged.
The artist in her called out to create something different – something that would touch human lives and appeal to everyone; seemingly everyday work but something that will bring joy to people.
It has been nine years. And Sudeshna has been relentless in her pursuit of setting up her business ventures. “I had no experience of running a business and had no idea what it would entail.” But with terrible hunger in her belly and a dream to lend a hand to the downtrodden, she egged on.
Sudeshna’s first venture, with her paltry savings, was an ethnic boutique, Firaangi Desi, born during the festive season of 2012. “There were huge challenges from identifying a location to finding the right employees to sell my creations.” Their biggest draws are Sudeshna’s displayed designs and customization of apparel and sarees at any level. And today, Firaangi Desi sells exquisite clothing to not just the who’s who of the city but to out-of-state visitors and foreigners alike.
The most important aspect of Sudeshna’s work is to be able to see a happy bunch of people, who previously struggled to find employment, thrive under her roof. “Not only do they produce world-class ethnic creative women’s apparel, it is heartening to see them supporting their families, as primary bread-winners,” she says with a twinkle in her eye.
The restless self in Sudeshna soon persuaded her to do something different; again a first of sorts. In the summer of 2014, she helped to create the now very successful and chic Ladies’ Spa – La Mode.
While setting up and ensuring the success of her businesses, the artist in Sudeshna never took a break. Amidst the chaos of dabbling with myriad demands of customers, exceeding their expectations and generating employment for the downtrodden, she fostered her deep-rooted inheritance, her first love, her passion for soulful Rabindra-Sangeet. And in the past 5 years, she was able to create 5 successful music albums (also available on iTunes and Gaana.com).
However, the jack-in-the-box trait kept following her, and to whet the gastronomic appetites of food lovers in the city, she built Mad Hatter’s, a unique restaurant that is already the talk of the town. While they have a regular menu, hungry souls get the opportunity to create their own food. “We call it Mad Hatter's way,” says Sudeshna. “You combine your own spices or combos! And we have authentic chicken roast and lamb chops which have become rare in Kolkata.”
So what’s next? Waiting for the entrepreneurial bug to bite again, she feels fortunate, “I see the cheerful faces of the people working and taking pride in Firaangi Desi, La Mode and Mad Hatter’s and a great sense of bliss takes over.”
Dressing, grooming and feeding her ever-widening clientele, Sudeshna Chatterjee is not just living; she is living her dream.
Firaangi Desi, La Mode and Mad Hatter’s are all under the same roof at 40A Ballygunge Place, Kolkata – 700019.