04 March, 2020
Rhea has a way with people. Perpetually ready with her self-deprecating wit, and warm hugs for anyone with grey hair or little-er than 7 years of age, Rhea is happy to give support to anyone who needs it. She genuinely believes that people are basically good. Here we talk to the Delhi-based lawyer about her work, what inspires her, what affects her and most importantly how she feels about having a (small)role in the naming of JODI

Please give us a brief line about what you do and where you are based?

I am a lawyer. I have an independent practice in Delhi. I primarily practice in the Delhi High Court, District courts, Supreme Court, NCLAT, etc.

As you know JODI's naming is inspired by you. How does being a twin make you feel?
It's difficult to explain but the relationship we share is bonded to pretty much the core of my being. I wouldn’t say, think or do half the things or be anything close to who I am, if I didn’t have this unrealistically optimistic-aggressive-cheerleader, by my side through life. She’s my person. In the most complete sense. I like the way we are unapologetically demanding of each other. I like the fact that our relationship has never really changed. The way we love, laugh, cry or share, with each other hasn’t changed from our 10 or 20 or 30 year old selves. She’s my constant source of everything that matters- love, comfort, humour (and jodi clothes).

What's the most amazing thing that's happened to you in the last five years?
Mowgli. My idiot dog. He’s 3.

What's the importance of sisterhood according to you?
I can’t imagine figuring life out without my girls. There’s absolutely no judgment. I love our conversations, ideas and the connection we share. I feel like it’s the most liberating and empowering space for me as a woman.

Rhea wears the Maya Satin Dress.

One thing you'd like to go back and tell your younger self (when you were in school).
I was quite a tomboy in school. I would tell younger me, to confidently and wholeheartedly embrace that label/personality type.

What are the struggles you face being a young female advocate who is running her own private practice?
Litigation is a man’s world. The whole ecosystem, peer interaction, chamber or office culture, organisational support, etc, is tailor-made for men. I do feel that as a woman, I have to work harder to gain the confidence of a client. It’s quite a struggle because it has nothing to do with technical/legal knowledge. There is this inherent bias where clients think men are better suited to maneuver the legal world.

Rhea wears the Mia Dress.

How do you deal with the implicit gender bias that exists in workplaces? Have you been able to voice how you feel?
Of course, I voice it. I don’t necessarily make an aggressive point about it, but anyone who knows me would tell you that I call it out. I like to make sure there is at least an awareness of the fact that there is bias. Rest, gender discrimination is a mammoth battle to win. It's culturally too ingrained in our mindset.

What is the scariest part of having your own practice?
The fact that there is very little clarity on the longevity of my practice and the dent it will make on my work-life balance front.

How do you feel about the political dialogue in our country right now?

I find it disheartening. After 70 years of being an independent state, our political dialogue hasn't matured past its communal/divisive narrative. I thought this was done and dusted by our founding fathers, but evidently not. This narrative is fundamentally ruining our understanding of nation-building, nationalism, dissent and our social fabric in general. It's frustrating that real issues like development, environment, education, etc occupy so little a space in our political discourse

Rhea wears the Yara Wrap Top with the  Arundhati Wrap Skirt

Who are some of the ladies you look up to?
I have my all-time favourite role models - Maya Angelou and Oprah. But I want to give a shout out to a few others. 
Meghan Rapinoe has been so inspiring. Her activism for equal pay and higher investment in women athletes, her game, her unapologetic voice and the fierce team she leads has changed how women are perceived in sports. She has given us a glimpse into the huge untapped potential of a female fan base in the world.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge has made me fall in love-love-love with her writing, wit and her refreshingly fresh take on feminism.
Mahua Moitra, I admire her debates/speeches in the parliament. The way she articulates and identifies issues, she is single-handedly lifting the political discourse in our country.

Rhea wears the Bela Silk Slip Dress

What are you reading right now? 
Upheaval by Jared Diamond. Possibly the most relevant time for me to pick up this book since it examines how a nation is impacted by crises and ways to recover from it.

If you were given one superpower for a day, what would you choose?
Some sort of telepathic mind control. Think of all the decisions I could make instead of those being made by men sitting in high chairs.

4 guests you'd love to have over for dinner. 
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Will Smith, Tiffany Haddish and Woody Harrelson. Because this would entail hysterical laughter at least till dessert is served. :)

Pictures by Aditi Gupta