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Dreams of glamour and stardom: Here's where they start!

Last updated on: January 31, 2012 18:25 IST

Dreams of glamour and stardom: Here's where they start!

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The Lakme Fashion Week 2012 model auditions, held in Mumbai last week, saw only 10 aspirants chosen from among 350. But win or lose, each one has a dream to follow, a story to tell and a lesson to share. Divya Nair reports.

Every year, scores of youngsters from across India audition for arguably the biggest fashion event in the country -- Lakme Fashion Week.

Each one is tall, has a svelte figure and aspires to become a supermodel someday.

While a handful of them return home happy to tell a story of success, hundreds find an excuse to brave rejection.

And this year was no different -- the auditions, held on January 23 at the Grand Hyatt in Mumbai saw approximately 330 young men and 120 women register for the event.

Dressed in their best -- sleeveless tees, shorts and croptops to show off their toned, taut bodies -- each anxiously awaited a turn before the panel of judges, which features the who's who of the fashion world. IMGR fashion director Anjana Sharma, designer Narendra Kumar, supermodel Nina Manuel, choreographers Lubna Adams, Shy Kalra and Anu Ahuja and photographer Farokh Chotia are not easily swayed; they know who they're looking for and it's not easy to match up to their high requirements.

For some, it is the first time and they nervously fidget in order to look their best; others are here to try their luck once again, sharing their audition experiences and tips with the newbies.


Image: Supermodel Nina Manuel (fifth from left) poses with winners of the Lakme Summer 2012 auditions
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

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'I will not eat anything till the auditions get over'

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Twenty one-year-old Minakshi Sanyal from Chandigarh, a PYT in a red tank and denim shorts tells me how she was rejected the last time around. But she's confident of making it today, because she is better prepared and will not repeat her past mistakes.

"I will not eat anything till the auditions get over. I don't want any unexplained weight around my tummy or hips," explains Minakshi. "I have worked out for a month to tone my body. I want to look my best when I am on the ramp," she quips, minutes before entering the audition room.

And 'unexplained weight' is not the only issue modelling hopefuls have to contend with. "Do not smoke. Do not have alcohol. Drink lots of water. Do not follow crash diets, they don't help you much," advises 22-year-old model Krithika Babu, a Femina Miss India 2010 contestant who participated in the Lakme Spring/Summer 2009 showing and aspires to make a catwalk comeback this season.

As time passes, the hopes of several young girls run dry when they are asked to leave. Just then, Dayana Erappa's name is announced by the organiser.

Needless to say, Dayana is elated to know that she is among the finalists who've made it to the last round. "This is my first audition at Lakme. I never expected to make it this far," says the 21-year-old the literature graduate from Bangalore University between hugs, as her fellow contestants offer their congratulations.


Image: Dayana Erappa, one of the finalists, couldn't believe she was selected at her very first attempt
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

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'Being a model is not only challenging, but also expensive'

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After a really long time, Lakme has also invited applications from aspiring male models this year.

However, from among the 240-odd male aspirants who turn up at the venue, a good number are asked to leave as they do not meet the height requirement of 5'11".

Vikrant Singh, a 23-year-old graduate from Delhi is among those rejected. "I wish I was an inch taller, I could have made it," he says, disappointed as he buttons his shirt and picks up his bag to leave.

Krishna Chaturvedi, 21, who cleared the first round and is asked to wait outside says that male models have to struggle a lot before they get selected by popular brands.

"For more than a year, when I was struggling to make a mark in the industry, no one cared to help me. It was only later that I realised how important it is to have a professional portfolio done. You also need to hire a good agent who will promote you well before clients," he says.

Krishna has appeared in advertisements for brands like Snapdeal.com, Myntra.com and Jaipur University. He goes on to explain how being a model is not only challenging but also expensive, especially if you don't have the right people to guide you.

"You have to wear the right clothes, look good and invest time in networking. If you meet and follow the advice of the wrong people, your modelling career will be finished before it's even started," cautions the commerce graduate.


Image: Krishna Chaturvedi, who cleared the first round, says that male models have to struggle a lot before they get selected by a popular brand
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

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'Splitsvilla taught me that you can't be a winner all the time'

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Another aspirant who doesn't make it to the final round is Dushyant Yadav, winner of MTV's reality show Splitsvilla (Season 4).

Sharing his experience, the 25-year-old mass communications graduate from Noida says, "Splitsvilla taught me that you can't be good to everyone and you can't be a winner all the time."

Dushyant, who also previously worked as a crime reporter with India TV proudly claims that the judges like to interact with people who have "variety in their profile".

When asked to explain, the reality star says that people are often fascinated to learn that he chose to become a model after being a journalist with an organisation he likes to call "the most popular news channel in India."

And despite being rejected, he remains optimistic. "I want to be an actor and someday I will fulfill my dream," he states with conviction.


Image: Dushyant Yadav, winner of MTV's reality show Splitsvilla (Season 4) was among those who did not make it to the finals
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

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'Modelling is very much encouraged in Bulgaria'

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It's not just fellow Indians the LFW aspirants have to contend with -- a good number of applicants are international models from countries like Germany, Netherlands and France, to name a few.

Maya Mirchave, a final year psychology student from Bulgaria who started modelling as a teenager, says that being a very young model is not a big deal at all in her country. She was 16 years old when she first appeared on the pages of a fashion magazine.

"Modelling is very much encouraged in Bulgaria. My parents always allowed me to make an independent decision -- be it about my life or career," explains Maya. And maybe the head start gave her an edge at the audition, because she's one of the finalists.


Image: Bulgarian Maya Mirchave is among the winners who will participate in the Lakme Summer Fashion Week 2012
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

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'It doesn't matter whether you are fair or dark'

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The foreign competition is raising the bar for Indian models, but it does not seem to deter the hopes of aspirants like Emile Joseph, who is auditioning for the first time this year.

In fact, the 22-year-old mass communications student from Hyderabad is quite confident of making a strong impression on the judges, perhaps due to her dusky looks.

"It doesn't matter whether you are fair or dark. If you have the attitude and confidence to walk on the ramp, you will make it to the finals," she says before pinning up her hair and pouting her lips in an attempt to rehearse for the next round.

Not everyone is as confident as Emile, though. Sheela Tiruchi recollects the emotions she experienced when she was rejected by Lakme three times in a row.

"Last time, the judges told me that I should try to lose more weight around my hips. I was very depressed, but I decided to take their advice seriously. Basically, I am not a diet-loving person. I love food. So I decided I'd rather tone my body to get it to look more balanced. I did not lose any weight."

Despite having lived in Germany all her life, Sheela prefers to work in India with Indian designers. "Indian designers treat models better. We don't get that respect in any other country," says the model, who holds a masters degree in public management and is also a yoga instructor and choreographer, among other things.


Image: Sheela Tiruchi has been rejected thrice at previous LFW auditions
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

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'Modelling is a short-lived profession, so having a back-up plan is important'

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After six long hours of anticipation, seven female models and three male models emerge the finalists -- all of them will participate in the upcoming Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort edition, scheduled between March 1-6, 2012.

Interestingly, the winners comprise three girls from Bangalore -- Dayana Erappa, Sheela Tiruchi and Kritika Babu --along with international aspirants Maya Mirchave, Evelin Besters, Nina Zikovic and Sanja Radulovic. Among the guys, three of the four are Indian -- Nibu Joseph, Tahir Ali and Siddharth Rawal.

Evelin Besters, 24, from the Netherlands tells me that she's keen to finish her graduation in mass media and wants to use this opportunity to share a piece of advice with her peers. "I would like to tell all the aspirants that they must first finish their formal education. Modelling is a short-lived profession, so having a back-up plan is important."


Image: Evelin Besters, one of the finalists, emphasised the importance of formal education
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

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'My messy hair was quite a head-turner'

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Twenty four-year-old Nibu Joseph, a business management graduate from Cochin, had come unprepared and is quite convinced that not having a square face like the other male models helped him ace the audition.

"When I entered the audition, I asked myself one question: What is in me that's not in them? I looked around and saw many square-faced men. I looked at myself. I realised that I was certainly different from them. I wasn't square-faced. Plus my messy hair was quite a head turner," says Nibu.

"Being unique always helps at Lakme," reiterates LFW regular Siddharth Rawal, pointing at his "uncombed" Afro-like hair, which he feels has helped him for four seasons now.


Image: Nibu Joseph, another finalist who auditioned for the first time
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

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'Each time I was rejected, I resolved to work harder for the next time'

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Ujjain-born Tahir Ali is equally glad that he had the courage to sail through rejections with optimism to see this day.

"When I started off, I faced a lot of rejection -- making mistakes was common for me. Each time I was rejected, I resolved to work harder for the next time. Lakme is like a dream come true for me," says this 24-year-old, who holds a degree in computer applications.

"Passion," continues Tahir, "should reflect in your attitude. One should not disappointed by initial failures or rejections. Instead, you must be willing to learn from your mistakes."

"If you want to be a model, you need to be headstrong about your passion," adds Dayana, while Sheela wants young aspirants to believe that success comes to those who have the "fire in their belly". And of course, that applies to all fields of work, not just modelling.


Image: Tahir Ali was courageous enough to face his past rejections with optimism and as a result, has made it as an LFW finalist this season
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

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