Monikangana Dutta ushers me into an efficient looking anteroom in her lavish, minimalist sea-facing apartment. Big picture windows and large expanses of white here turn to straight lines as Moni takes her place behind a desk and flips open her laptop to give us some background music, as it were. Pink Floyd's super Us And Them plays gently behind us -- possibly a distracting choice of ironic song, but only if the supermodel wasn't attractive enough to blur out the background.
Supermodel. It's a big tag. There are only ever a dozen or so in the world, and while all-time icons like Cindy Crawford prove that a supermodel remains always in style, Moni -- sandwiched between Priyanka and Preity on the inaugural cover of Vogue India -- is one of the latest lasses to hop aboard the coveted, oft-shot brigade. Automatically, it means international acceptance and a look that transcends both boundaries and designers.
Not bad for a girl cutting college in Delhi. The Jesus And Mary College in Chanakyapuri is a girls' college surrounded by eager male and co-ed colleges, and the JMC girls often choose to tantalisingly frequent the neighbourhood Nirula's -- fast-food is but a pretext. "Also, we didn't have any money in college, so we couldn't afford to go to really fancy places for meals. So Nirula's it was, and someone came up to me and asked me about participating in a modelling contest."
Discovery was as simple as that, with Dutta initially sceptical but encouraged by the thought of being groomed by Noyonika Chatterjee. Moni did superbly at that exotic show, the French
Metropolitan agency's 2003 Top Model Contest in Ecuador. As one of the top five, she bagged herself a modelling deal in Paris in January 2004. She had a blast, but candidly admits it might have come a little too soon.
Text: Raja Sen
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