Why did SRK name his bungalow Mannat? And why does Akshay Kumar remain Rajiv Bhatia on paper? ‘Astro-architect’ Neeta Sinha would be the right person to ask
Sanyukta Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; February 26, 2017)

Neeta Sinha does not approve of actor Ranbir Kapoor’s new Bandra pad. “It is not suited for him,” the 56-year-old says, clucking her tongue at her sprawling Juhu home that is located opposite Adi Godrej’s seafacing bungalow.

Sinha can afford to be disapproving of a top Bollywood star’s home, because she has ‘astro-proofed’ the expansive apartments and mansions of everyone from Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, and Hrithik Roshan to Anil Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and Shatrughan Sinha. Astroproofing is what astro-architects claim to do, and Sinha is the country’s only astroarchitect of any consequence. It all starts with a belief that “every home has a horoscope”, and one of the first people to be convinced about it was Ritu Nanda, matriarch of the eponymous Delhi-based business family.

Back in 1999, Nanda, who was then overseeing the construction of the family’s new farmhouse near Delhi, was introduced to a flamboyant young woman, who offered her inputs that were more practical than those offered by vaastu and feng shui experts. She hired Sinha for the job, and the latter combined her academic background in architecture and knowledge of astrology to create, she claims, “a harmonious balance of energy for the farm house”.

But, come again, what exactly is astro-architecture?

Astro-architecture, says Sinha, is a science based on the relationship between man and the cosmos. And like us, she, too, was sceptical about it when she first heard about it 30 years ago. But a chance meeting with the late Dr L N Kusuma, a cosmic scientist and a student of the renowned astrologer KS Krishnamurthy helped her to see things in a different light.

“The accuracy with which Dr Kusuma predicted how my life would turn out brought a deep desire in me to study Vedic astrology, and how it worked in day-to-day life. That is how I started practicing.”

Sinha went on to study over 30,000 homes and other spaces in high-rises to better understand the effects of the laws of Vaastu. “I pondered over a crucial question: why is it that in a high rise, in which the vaastu of all the houses are the same, different individuals get different results? That led me to the discovery that every place has three negative sectors and nine positive sectors. I first study the architectural maps and plans of a house, and then work to enhance the positive sectors, and diminish the negative ones.”

Sinha’s first client in Bollywood was Karan Johar, and she suggested he use yellow and orange in his bedroom to bring “calmness and positivity” in his life. Johar, who found “the lady delightful”, introduced her to his buds, and the heavens, so to speak, smiled on Sinha.

When SRK first purchased his now iconic sea-facing bungalow, he faced much opposition from heritage committees over alterations to the structure. Sinha suggested that the home be renamed to a word that began with ‘M’ to eliminate the trouble brewing around the house. And that’s how ‘Mannat’ got its name.

Neeta has also changed the entrance to Akshay Kumar’s duplex in Juhu, separating the garden from the entrance. She studied the “energies” of Akshay’s Juhu home and asked him to maintain all paperwork in his birth name, Rajiv Bhatia. “I encouraged Akshay Kumar to even buy his house in the name of Rajiv Bhatia. This change of name proved very beneficial to him.”

Small changes made by Sinha to Preity Zinta have helped the actor “bring positivity into her life”. “The naming of the house is crucial and whose name the property deed is made on is equally important,” says Neeta, who goes on to detail the changes she usually suggests to her clientele.

“Balancing the North East corner of the house is crucial, since it is one of the most auspicious areas in a home. Mirrors should not face each other, and bedrooms should feature yellow and orange hues.”

What about her home? How did she channel positivity into it? “The artefacts placed in my living room are made of brass. Brass is a good metal for me. Additionally, yellow, the colour of brass, is also a good colour to surround oneself with. The paintings in the living room are all in shades of red, which keeps the mind active. Red should be used in a room that involves a lot of activity such as the hall room, or the study. I also have an idol of Goddess Laxmi facing a statue of Lord Ganesh, which is very beneficial to my star sign.”

Kirron Kher, one of Sinha’s earliest clients in the city, describes her as not just a vaastu expert, but more of a “family physician”. “There definitely is an improvement in the quality of our lives, since Neeta came. She regularly calls to enquire whether a particular remedy is effective or not.” Sinha has also worked on Kher’s actor-husband Anupam’s ‘Actor Prepares’ office in Andheri West.

In 2015, Sinha began work on the Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge Centre in Navi Mumbai, making several changes to the already designed property. “There was a temple in the premises facing a certain direction that was not in sync with the energies of the landscape. I recommended that the entrance be moved to another direction, and added brighter colours to the building. New mirrors and plants were also placed at strategic locations.

While many have benefitted from Neeta’s expertise, there were many powerful people who chose to not pay her any heed. “Not everybody cared to listen to what I had to say. But I guess it has been their loss,” she quips, recalling her meeting with the late Bal Thackeray. When the Shiv Sena pushed for the city’s name to be changed from ‘Bombay’ to ‘Mumbai’, Sinha requested a meeting with the charismatic founder and powerful politician. “Balasaheb Thackeray argued that Bombay was destined to become Mumbai. I told him that ‘Bombay’ was the title that gave him the gift of power that he held over the city. I repeatedly tried to explain that ‘Bombay’ suited his rule and legacy and changing it to ‘Mumbai’ would lead to his own downfall. But it was too late. Balasaheb had already made up his mind and there was no changing it.”