Just the surname of Alam Khan spells success and sophistication. One of the oldest regal families of Hyderabad, the Alam Khans have continued to conquer the higher echelons of Hyderabad’s elite society with their class and cuisine. However, Samia Alam Khan, one of the most well known daughters-in-law of the Nawabi family, did not rest on the laurels of her illustrious clan. Instead, she went ahead and carved a niche for herself as a competent business woman in Hyderabad. RITZ chats up the reigning Chairperson of Yound Ficci Ladies Organisation who breezes through challenging roles and does justice to every one of them.
For Samia, entrepreneurship comes naturally. With a flair for numbers, she would help her father with his office work and account keeping when she was just a girl in her pigtails. “I was rewarded with extra pocket money in return which made me independent and strong quite early in life,” she reminisces. And for somebody who tasted financial freedom that early, it’s quite obvious that she would follow her own path as an adult. While many girls in her circle made marriage their sole vocation, Samia’s marriage to Manzoor Alam Khan spurred her on to pursue her career with renewed vigour.
It must have been tough for a zesty girl to fit into the huge family that is reputed for their customs, traditions and living together. Some 40 odd members are known to get together every day for most meals in their family home. The sheer magnitude and opulence of their family get togethers, weddings and other important occasions are legendary in the city of Nizams. Every unit of the family is known for their distinct lifestyle. While the men zip around in their mean machines, the women carry themselves with a rare grace in their chiffons and Basra pearls. But the family, as a principle, neither speaks about their legacy nor of their philanthropic endeavours. While it may be in to flaunt Rolls Royces and Bentleys and announce your charity initiatives to the world, the Alam Khans downplay their material possessions because they believe strongly that it goes against their faith. However, when it comes to feasting and feeding, they pull out all stops to ensure that the world gets to savour Hyderabadi cuisine in their signature Haveli.
Patriarch of the family Nawab Mehboob Alam Khan, a consultant for Taj group of hotels, an Indian food connoisseur and culinary expert of Hyderabadi cuisine, is also well known for restoring many lost recipes of the Hyderabadi tradition. However, the spirited Samia held her own and went a step ahead to develop a strong identity that maybe enhanced by her family name but a lot of it has to do with her business acumen.
So how does it feel to belong to one of the famous families of Hyderabad? How has the experience been?
“Obviously, it feels wonderful. Even though I was married in a joint family, because of my husband’s work, we lived in the US and the Middle East during the initial period of our marriage. The family I am married into is extremely private and comprises a cultured ecosystem. Other than the various industries they manage, they have a very keen sense of giving back to the society and do so privately. The family invests into and enjoys nurturing varied interests and hobbies. Over the years, I’ve been exposed to various things like sustainable farming, horticulture and animal husbandry which has been quite an eye opener of sorts,” confides the lady and continues, “I have had the good fortune of tasting the food of some celebrated chefs in India and globally. But then there is a culinary genius within our family – Nawab Mehboob Alam Khan, Manzoor’s eldest uncle, is beyond compare. He wears many hats as a successful entrepreneur, educationist and a highly respected person in the social and political space in Hyderabad. But that’s not what his family, friends and guests remember him most for. He is arguably the best Deccani culinary genius in the world as his Biryani is rated as among the most brilliant dishes to be had. He is a connoisseur of Mughlai cuisine and can whip up a magical feast overnight.”
A specialist at conceptualising and bringing to life fashion & lifestyle based events, Samia has been curating and organising several one day fashion exhibitions in Hyderabad since 2010. She curates Mana Shetty’s signature exhibition, Araaish, which is a leading transnational fashion exhibition brand with considerable presence in India and overseas. Managing director of Samia Alam Khan Enterprises, a company she set up in the Lifestyle & Fashion space, she has made a name for herself with her pursuit for excellence. So how did the idea of turning an entrepreneur come about? “I completed my MBA in marketing and finance way back in 1997. I always wanted to set up something of my own. The fashion and lifestyle space has tremendous potential. Luckily for me, some lucrative collaborations fell in place and things worked out beautifully. It has been a lot of hard work,” she says with a smile.
Getting elected as the Chairperson of Young FICCI Ladies Organisation, 2015-2016, was just the shot in the arm she needed to make her presence stronger in society. “YFLO gave me the platform to pursue interests which are close to my heart, like working on the health initiative, organising free health camps for the needy, etc. I have had the opportunity to witness how, what comes so easily to certain parts of the society, can be like gold dust for some!”
Personally, she counts the arrival of her daughter Sanya and son Aftab as the most precious events of her life. “They are grown up now. My daughter is 17 and my son, 15. But you know how it is with mothers. We can never compromise on their upbringing,” she says and we can’t agree more.
Another turning point was her marriage to her childhood sweetheart. “It was definitely a huge moment. But then the birth of my children takes the cake as far as defining moments in life are concerned. It is an experience unlike no other. It’s something intensely personal and absolutely spiritual. And I will not trade anything for these,” shares Samia.
A voracious reader, her all time favourite pastime is watching a movie while munching caramel popcorn “Movies are my favourite pastime, we don’t miss any big release, be it in Hindi or English; my all-time favourite stars are Tom Cruise and Saif Ali Khan, even though right now Ranbir Kapoor simply rocks,” she muses.
She also digs travelling big time and loves cats. “I just adore my Persian cats, Zoro and Sheza,” says Samia who is a shopaholic and a spa addict. “New York and London are my favourite shopping destinations,” she confides. Her family’s expertise has rubbed off on her as well though Italian cuisine is her specialty.
In addition to consolidating and expanding her business further, she also wants to start an NGO. “I would like to focus on creating sustainable opportunities for the people who are economically marginalized,” she shares. Nice.