Woman of substance: Ramona Arena is an aesthetic combo of style, tune & words
The nonchalant demeanour with which she struts around and sashays into her creative space makes a delightful canvas. Meet Ramona Arena. After all, she is no stranger to the world of glitz, music and vee-jaying. The scintillating persona is on a travel spree, globe-trotting and scorching the scene across the world, be it India or London.
The diva with a boho-chic sense of style and the magnetic persona eponymous to hippie and a rebel dabbles in the paraphernalia of show biz with equal ease: music, social media, hosting and yes, poetry. You heard it, right. Ramona Arena weaves effortless words as a poetess. The hidden talent for words is unfurled on her personal space, RA-flowing with a pen. You shouldn’t be surprised.
Like a Queen of Heart, Ramona Arena is a powerhouse of talent who believes in not only striding ahead but making her mark in such a manner that you can’t get enough of her. Put simply, Ramona is an enchantress.
She is daring, simple, exudes confidence and hotness yet believes in making a difference to lives. Ramona comes with a flick of light and like a lush of gentle breeze, spreading her vibes wafting through our surrounding. She is a real combo of re-defined hotness, being unabashedly sexy with a whiff of intelligence.
It was during the early 2000s when Ramona sashayed inside your living room, a time where pop music wore a thin veil and as time whizzed, the scene became ablaze. It was the MTV days, when we grew up, feasted and lapped on pop culture.
You may call her sexy with an attitude. Think again! She is not all of that but eyes brimmed with dreams to conquer her world. A great believer in humanity, Ramona refuses to be confined to genres when I ask what one makes of her as a rebel, dreamer, and hippie.
It was on the blog that I met her, ensnarled by the effortless and sensual words that the poetess composes. Ra, as she is affectionately called, readily agrees to play along and accepts to feature on the blog. There is no starry air and she flits with ease into her own skin. There is no pretension.
It’s been a long journey for Ramona, whether as the lovely MTV host or being Sonia in Karan Johar’s star-studded family saga K3G which happened much before her music television days and host to various labels. Since then, there has been no looking back as Ramona flings her charm be it on the music scene, hosting shows and poetess to the great delight of her bevy of admirers.
She doesn’t flinch once when she says, “You can make of me whatever you like! You have an opinion you’re entitled to.” Spot on!
She is the stuff dreams are made of. Ramona could have been a princess but her in-your-face attitude and honesty take you on a unique ride. Mesmerizing by her uncanny talent, I explore the mystery behind the lady who dabble into so many things at one time. I flouted the question after reading the description on her website, ‘I sang before I spoke……I got a free meal …Life has been full of exciting adventures.’
The star simply says, “I just get very uncomfortable when people try to give me a label and put me in a box. I don’t see why human beings in general, feel the need to define me or themselves. Or, anything else for that matter.”
Ramona Arena can be clouded and shrouded in mystery. After all, who wouldn’t love to decode her in the current avatar? Her life seems to take a lot of twists and turns in her ever-changing career, constantly defining and pushing herself to the edge as an artist. After all, wasn’t Ramona the same girl who sent tizzy of excitement when she scorched the scene on MTV to steal our hearts!
Ramona Arena could well be a rock star and rightly so in experimenting and wearing various hats. She doesn’t hide under a comforting label and is shorn of labels. “Who said you have to be only X or Y or Z? Why can’t I be everything or just different things at different times without restrictions and limitations of labels and expectations?”
The nonconformist’s winged words are spelled with aplomb, “You are in a constant state of flow as you live life, you are never ‘really’ in control of most things – change can happen at anytime, in fact it’s the only constant thing in life, so trying to make something of me is pretty pointless!
“And, that Top 10 was called World Chart Express .” She corrects me with the charm of a bird spreading its wings above the rainbow. Guilty as charged, I defined the most loved show on MTV as Top 10.
The diva with eclectic facet spells the story of her life that unspools, harking back to her growing days in Bombay, an alumni of the hip and happening Jai Hind College where she studied literature. No wonder she has a knack for words.
One thing led to the other and Ramona explored her hidden talent be it singing, poetry, hosting and films. Her true calling, she attributes to, “The growing up years definitely contributed to who I am today. But my calling came the day I took my first breath.”
She got the wild look and can be coy one imagines. Gotta revise my copy for Ramona Arena is not spittle-flecked when our conversation verges towards MTV that was huge for my generation in an era where pop culture was lacking in India but exploded like baby boomers. Music runs in her blood like an adrenaline rush and it’s only natural to ask her on the shift in music channels veering towards lurid content and the bevy of reality shows mushrooming nowadays.
Ramona avers, “It’s heartbreaking. Entertainment is fine and music channels should have it in doses, like it used to be. Vh1 is amazing – it’s stayed true to itself, full props. Music Television used to be about music, creativity, art, fun and that it’s none of these things anymore – just about feeding rubbish to brain dead people and making them believe they want it.” A sharp and incisive observation on the sorry, shoddy state of television and music channel, from the horse’s mouth.
Her love for music is no secret. Ramona effortlessly slips her soul into V-Jing, music video and theatre with her magnetic presence and prose. Getting into movies was a natural choice when she forayed and strode into flicks like K3G, Kal Ho Na Ho and Aetbaar.
Remember Sonia, Kareena Kapoor’s, friend in an ensemble cast composed of Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Rani Mukherjee. For sure, it must be a magnificent experience to brush shoulders with the biggies and working under Karan Johar.
She says, “Yes, it’s always fun to be on set, though sometimes the long waits between shots can be very boring. I was very lucky to have made a few good friends (some I’m close to even today). Karan is great fun as everyone knows and is extremely hard working. My best K3G memories, though, were with Yash uncle, a gem of a human being.”
The star was always fascinated by acting and reminisces, “I always acted through school and college-I love being on stage. I love films…I just wish there were interesting and challenging roles for me. I’d act for free – it’s not about the money – if I found someone that had a great script – an actual story, that he was passionate about, knew what he wanted from me as an actor and how to bring it out from me, I’d do it in a heart-beat. I love it but Music will always be no.1.”
She infuses life in what she does, be it her constant presence on social media connecting with followers and fans, striking the high note in music, acting, hosting and writing. I am in awe. I ask how on earth she juggles so many things and finds time to get everything rolled like the dice. Her confidence and passion are echoed in her choice of words, “You make the time for the things you love. All these things are me.”
Touche! The girl in tinsel town is crisp and hit the cudgel, “People often advised me to stick to one thing – don’t be the jack of all and queen of none. I have a different perspective.” Being someone who knows her mind and an unflinching belief in the positive side of life, she affirms, “This planet has so much to offer – countries, cultures, colours, food, clothing, fabrics, landscapes, etc… I’d be a fool not to do it all, see it all, taste it all!!! Why would I ever limit my experience to one thing when God has given us so much variety?”
Why not?! After all, the more the merrier for someone as exuberant as Ramona who can bring the house down with her personified charm, poise and easy demeanour. The sky has always been the limit for her, be it her refusal to be stuck in a specific genre and never shy to make her real self, comes alive with spark.
Ramona never plays the safe card and says with unabashed honesty, “ It feels like the stupid troll logic one often finds on social media – if one is a singer or actor etc, they apparently should only stick to doing that and not have an opinion about anything else – especially political issues. That is so daft. You’ll never live or experience the diversity of life if you do.”
And, the girl who wears her heart on the sleeve is never short of intelligent humour. “And-do I really want to be a Queen?”, she jests.
She is so full of surprises. It was the time I discovered the effortless power of her ink, crafting inspiring and soulful poetry that makes you stop and reflect on life. It’s the real deal and icing on cake. The inspiration behind her powerful words must come from somewhere. May be an inner voice sensually stroking her mind!
She belts it out, “I started writing when I was a frustrated 13-year-old because I didn’t know how acceptable it would be to say the things I wanted to, without a filter or conscience and anyway, there was no one around I could say them to.”
“Inspiration is all around – sometimes nature, sometimes people’s stories, sometimes travel – mostly life…it has so much it is constantly teaching you,” she muses.
Imbibed with the gift for impeccable writing and counting the fact that every celebrity in town is coming with a book, hasn’t the bug hit her yet? She laughs, “Ha! I have been asked many times to write a book. I don’t think I’m ready to do a work of fiction just yet. If anyone is interested in publishing my poems or my travel writing like The Rajput Diaries I’d be happy to start with that.”
Her poems and music are all about celebrating life in style and being face to face with one’s inner side. How much of Ramona, the rebel in town, do we see in her work? She reflects, “Of course – creativity is always personal. Deeply personal. But not everything I write is about me or what I’m going through. There’s a lot that influences me, my thoughts, my moods and therefore my writing. As a reader, you’ll never know which piece is about me, how much is inspired by something or someone else, and what actually is true about ‘me’.”
She’s as flabbergasted as I am when I quiz her on her collaboration with Pentagram which turns out to be flying rumours. She shrugs it off: “Don’t know if I’m more shocked at this news or if the boys will be. I have never collaborated with Pentagram or Indus Creed. The Penta boys are all dear friends – Vishal being one of my closest.”
Now, I am quite shocked at the shocking revelation since I read about the news somewhere. Ahem!! But, no one can deny her scintillating voice in ‘Wanna be your Only Love’ and ‘Hello World’ that blew our mind. Get her on music that continues to wow us, raving about her performance and there is no stopping her to spur the tale. “I’ve written the songs and lyrics & sung for WBYOL, Hello World wt Anish Sood producing both, have done the same for Feel with Mexican Dj/Producer Rickber Serrano, In Time wt Lost Stories and Peeya wt the Swiss/Irish duo Blumenkraft.”
Ramona never shies away from experimented with music where she made her first outing with a Hindi movie. An exhilarating experience, Ramona says, I also composed 3 tracks for the film Roar as per the film director and producers requests – that was an interesting experience. Never really done stuff in Hindi.
An incredible and true artist, Ramona Arena’s fans are in for a treat for there are more on the silver plate and innings. “You’ll be hearing a lot of different sounds from me very soon. I am always open to collaborating with musicians – unknown, known doesn’t matter – it’s always about the music.”
A soul who nudges friends but also creatively inclined artists who lack the moolah to make the world hear and applaud them. Her mind is brimming with ideas and it was on social media that she flouted an idea of collaboration to give fillip to voices, dreaming of making it big. She calls it, ‘The idea of creative barter never left.’ Ramona shares an anecdote, ‘It came back even stronger when I saw a kid at The Coalition in Delhi, so heart-broken about having to give up on his passion, his dream career for lack of support.
Spirited, intellectual and filled with passion for her plethora of creative pursuit, Ramona Arena doesn’t wear blinkers and is on a spree. Her effortless charm echoes the persona with zing and the girl wins your heart through her powerful reflections. You gotta stay in tune for Ramona balances her act with verve and will never cease to surprise the world with projects bearing her mark for she is a great believer in creativity as a unifying platform. Till we meet next time, I can say Ramona Arena knows how to win hearts and minds.
That’s Ramona Arena, a go-getter in life, spunky to the core, free-spirited, bohemian or put simply, a woman of substance.
Post-script: I met Ra on her blog early this year and became hooked to her words. I am a self-confessed fan during her MTV days and she is more than I knew about her in terms of artistic creative. We exchanged e-mails and the interview was sent one month back. I got a bit late and it’s fresh from the oven.