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Michelle Poonawalla

The fashionable artist, wife & mother hailing from the first family of Pune, throws open the doors of her palatial home which she shares with husband, Yohan and children, Tania & Zayan. Hello! Captures a fun-filled day...

Jeena J Billimoria

“We’re reaching in 15!” reads an urgently typed message to Michelle Poonawalla on WhatsApp. The HELLO! team is running way behind schedule for a shoot with the svelte mother of two at her home in Pune. We are travelling from Mumbai (now at breakneck speed) to capture this fairytale like mansion and its inhabitants, but courtesy some unforgiving traffic, the gates of the Poonawalla home are only swung open for us 30 minutes later. The first glance of the property has you hooked instantly – a garage with an enviable fleet of sports and luxury cars, belonging to Yohan Poonawalla, Chairman and Managing Director of the Poonawalla Engineering Group; then a paved driveway that leads to the façade of a stately home, a large tree house for the children to play in, a garden and mini stable that is home to four proud little Shetland ponies (one of whom will make a cameo in a shot later today) and several other little animals that we catch glimpses of along the way. We also come across an art studio for Michelle that’s currently under construction, a garage for the largest model airplane in the world – and all this is before we even set foot inside the house!

The interior of the home is another statement altogether – plush but sophisticated, rich but tasteful. The vast black and white marbled floor is complemented by a beautiful wooden ceiling, from which chandeliers sparkle happily. Michelle’s trademark butterfly paintings hang proudly on the walls and on easels, along with the likes of other coveted artists. The scent of several flavoured candles waft through the air, accompanied by the latest hits that belt out energetically from the surround system, setting the tone for the day.

The real jewel in our midst however, is Michelle, who is striding towards us with a warm smile as she welcomes us into her own not-so-little paradise. In the comfort of this private space, she is relaxed and exudes a playful energy while we finish a quick tour.

“Our home was an old existing structure which was renovated when Yohan and I got married and was recently renovated again by us. We were both very clear on what we liked and the designs that we wanted,” Michelle tells us. “I have a background in Interior Design and we both chose the look and feel of the home together. We have our room, the kids’ rooms and two guest rooms. I’m very fond of landscaping and enjoy planning my garden. Coming from a racing family, we have a soft corner for horses. Yohan and I don’t like our kids to ride for safety reasons, but we wanted to keep horses at home nonetheless, so we have a special breed of miniature ponies that the kids can play with. When their friends come, they like to walk and feed them, they are very sweet natured and mild,” she laughs. We follow Michelle across the little stable shed towards a tree house built for the children when Zayan was born. “The kids were both going to be too small to climb up a tree, plus when friends came over, I wanted something safe, so I designed it amongst two of our trees,” the protective mother shares.

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October 2017