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'I know I am better. I know I can rise above racism'

By Rajesh Karkera
Last updated on: February 09, 2017 13:54 IST
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After successful stints at New York and Paris fashion weeks, Nepali model Varsha Thapa, 24, walked the ramp for the first time at the Lakme Fashion Week Summer Resort 2017.
The hot model opens up to's Rajesh Karkera about her modelling career, racism abroad, fitness and style tips and her ideal Valentine.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/

Nepali model Varsha Thapa

Why modelling?

I chose modelling because I don't really want to work for anyone. I like to work for myself.

I like to function according to my own instincts and intuitions.

When you're working with a company or when you're working with someone else you have to follow their instincts, instructions, guidelines and concept of work.

I didn't want to do that. I wanted to do my own thing and that's how I have always been in life.

Did you face any struggles as a model?

Struggle is in everything. It is a part of life and if not in modelling I'd have gone to the hotel industry. I would have had struggles there as well.

How did your parents react when you told them about your career choice?

My mom at first was very skeptical because she thinks its a very short lived career. I don't agree with her because I think a model can be a model for life.

As a model I can inspire people life long.

Career-wise, I think that as long as you want to model you can. You just have to keep looking young. And I try my best to keep looking young all the time.

At the makeup area in lakme

Any bad career experiences?

One of my bad experiences was during Paris Fashion Week in 2012.

I was casting for a big designer. I was standing in the queue to be seen by one of the casting directors and designer. When it was my turn, I went and stood up there; the designer looked at me and told the casting director, 'She's brown skinned'.

She spoke in French, which I understood. I wasn't selected for that show. 

That moment made me feel the sting of racism.

How did you handle it?

You cannot change people. But you can change the way you think.

You can just say, 'That's their way of thinking and my way of thinking is different. I think that everyone is equal. We have the same blood. Even if we don't have the same colour we are human beings at the end of the day!

I didn't really care about what they thought about me. It did sting at first but then I know who I am.

I know I am better. I know I can rise above it; so I did not take that to heart.

IMAGE: Walking for Nupur Khano's show at Lakme Fashion Week.
Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/

How did Lakme happen to you?

I've been modelling since 2011 and I've never done the Indian market.

I've modelled in NY. I've modelled in Paris. I've also modelled a bit in Spain. I so much wanted to travel to India.

This is where I grew up also; I went to school in Dehradun.

I wanted to get in touch with my roots again. 

You know that feeling. When you feel like you're way too away from your culture and your roots, you want to come back and feel that warmth again. You want to feel that love again. And you want to be among the people you've known your entire life. 

Honestly, I came here for the warmth. The people. Familiar faces. A little bit of comfort as well. And then, of course, I wanted to experience the fashion industry in India.

I love new experiences. Wherever my work takes me I always travel. But this was one of the journeys that I chose.

Was it easy to get into Lakme?


I mean all the other girls had to go through auditions. I had to stay in the room for a couple of hours but some others had to stay even longer and compete with hundreds of girls to get into Lakme.

I thank God and my agency Anima Creatives, who sent me to Lakme directly and they got me to see this person. 

She asked me to walk. And that was all I had to do to get into Lakme :)

Fitness, beauty and career tips

Nepali model Varsha Thapa

IMAGE: Varsha Thapa, right, at Lakme Fashion Week.
Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/

How do you stay fit?

I've been eating so much nowadays! I feel quite out of shape as a model. But otherwise I regularly go to the gym.

I try to include dance in my fitness regime.

Back in New York, I was taking belly dancing classes and incorporated lot of gym and yoga. I also do hot yoga in NY.

All this helps me maintain my fitness and balance.

If I go to the gym, I'm there for three hours! I don't know what happens to me but I go work it out hard every time and it feels like you've really done something.

How do you take care of your skin?

It's tricky because we normally have a lot of make up most of the time.

I try to take it off as soon as I reach home. That's the number one priority for me.

The longer you have make up on your face, more the possibility of you getting acne. So I take it off right away.

I use make up remover and face wash. I apply some moisturiser to hydrate my skin.

Most importantly, I take a lot of fish oil pills and Omega 3 capsules.

Three important qualities every model must have...

I think perseverance is very important. I can't stress enough about perseverance.

You need to have that drive. Somewhere down the line, if you are modelling for 5 to 6 years and nothing happens, you should give up at some point. 

But if you have the drive, you will just keep going. Keep trying because you know who you are.

And you shouldn't listen to anyone else's negative opinions. So it boils down to that.

IMAGE: Walking for designers Sama Ali with Meera and Muzaffar Ali at LFW.
Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/

How different are the fashion weeks in NY and Paris compared to India?

The coordination part during fashion weeks in India is a little wonky. But I like the choreography a lot. 

There is much more to choreography in India. It's much more cinematic vs NY, where it's very straightforward.

You just go straight in and out. It's not complicated at all. It's like you walk in, you walk in a straight line, you walk out. You don't even stop. You turn around and you exit.

So it's very simple minimalistic and basic in NY. 

While Paris is a bit cinematic as well but I am really glad to have experienced something more than choreography in Paris.

The people here I think work very hard. The choreographers try to make it so grand and it's so luxurious to watch this. It becomes an experience and not just a runway walk!

I'm really glad that I came here and got selected at Lakme Fashion Week.

A perfect Valentine's date for you would be...

Something different and unusual.

A little stroll together with someone; something you don't do on a normal basis.

Flowers probably, or a walk on the beach. I like those cheesy, corny things. But I don't get to do that every day.

Everyday, my life is like rushing back and forth. It is like living on the runway. So anything that is different is good for me. It's special.

Your ideal partner should be...

Someone who's warm; someone who knows how to love and teach me because I always like to learn from people.

Learning is something that never stops in life. If it stops, then my life would go haywire.

I DON'T like NOT to learn from anything.

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Rajesh Karkera /