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'I left my house for modelling'

Last updated on: October 25, 2012 18:46 IST

Image: Models line up for the India Resort Fashion Week 2012 auditions on October 23 in Mumbai
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/

To become a model is no easy task. As the auditions for India Resort Fashion Week 2012 got underway on October 23 in Mumbai, Hitesh Harisinghani caught up with a few hopefuls who readily shared their career dreams and struck a pose for his lens.

From November 28 to December 2, Goa will host the India Resort Fashion Week 2012. Veteran designers like Rocky S and Pria Kataaria Puri will be offering up the best of resortwear and it promises to be a sexy, summery do.

Of course, for the modelling fraternity, the opportunity to walk the IRFW ramp is a plum assignment -- for one thing, it's a national fashion event, and it's also a great way to get noticed and work with fashion stalwarts.

But out of 120 models who audition, only 32 will make the cut. As they nervously await assessments by the IRFW judging panel, they are more than willing to share a little facetime with the camera and answer a few questions.

In the following pages, we share their stories.

'I've been on my own for the last three years, so it was very difficult'

Image: Model Anjum Fakih
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/

The exotic-looking Anjum Fakih is in rather daring attire, even for a modelling audition.

Dressed in just a plunging crocheted bikini top and tiny denim hotpants, she seems keen on leaving an impression -- but will it be the right one when it comes to the judges?

"I am half Arab and half Indian, but I'm based in Mumbai," says the 25-year-old. "I'm a full-time model; modelling is my passion. But I do acting as well -- I've done cameos in movies and serials."

With the mention of her cultural background (and the sight of her eye-popping poolside outfit), it seems natural to ask what her parents think of her choice of career.

"It's a long story," sighs Anjum. "I left my house for modelling. My parents are in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I've been on my own for the last three years, so it was very difficult, initially, in Mumbai. But now I think I'm doing pretty good here."

"I don't have any financial and emotional backup from my family, because my mom said, 'If you want to be a model, not in my house.' So for two years I was not on talking terms with them (my parents), but now they're slowly and steadily calling and all of that."

Window of opportunity

Image: Foreign models attend the auditions for India Resort Fashion Week
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/

Anjum may be the boldest of the lot, but a lot of the girls are in equally daring outfits, particularly those of foreign descent -- it's no secret that recent years have seen a virtual flooding of the Indian fashion industry with models from the UK, Australia, Brazil and other countries.

It makes you wonder if the competition from abroad is the reason why some of the youngsters get pressured into attention-seeking tactics, to steal the focus from their international counterparts.

Tags: Brazil , UK , Australia

'I have a good height -- 6'3

Image: Model Robin Singh
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/

It's not just the ladies who are gearing up for competition, though. Meet 26-year-old Robin Singh, who relocated from Delhi to Mumbai in order to pursue both modelling and acting.

"I'm basically from Delhi," Robin states. "For a long time I did a lot of fashion shoots there, and then last year I shifted here to Mumbai for more modelling and also acting. I've been modelling a lot, I have a good height -- 6'3"."

And unlike a lot of the youngsters at the IRFW, he does have a back-up plan.

"My choice of career is quite normal -- my parents have always supported me. What's more, I'm a qualified MBA. And besides modelling part-time and acting, I'm also a graphic designer and photographer," he explains.

Not only a Plan B, but also a C and a D, which seems to reflect just how tough a break in the industry really is.

And that holds particularly true for the guys, who aren't at par with the female models in terms of either payment or volume of work.

Style-savvy males

Image: Male models audition for the India Resort Fashion Week
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/

Still, the males seem to have the fighting spirit. Some turn out in very stylish, eye-catching ensembles, trying to impress the panel with their swaggering gait and beefed-up bods.

And their choice of clothes does seem to strike a note. A few years ago, model auditions for men meant only one thing -- tight tees with a generous dose of man cleavage and clingy, tapering jeans.

The sight today at the IRFW audition, however, is a welcome departure.

Tags: IRFW

'My parents are very dad just dropped me here'

Image: Model Jaspal Kaur
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/

Speaking of stylish, Jaspal Kaur certainly cuts a striking figure with her peep-toe boots and denim mini.

We're surprised to learn that the Mumbai lass is only 20, because she certainly seems very poised and collected before the camera. But her look belies her bubbly enthusiasm.

"Modelling was something that just happened," she tells us. "In between (in my life) I was just cut off from everything, because I was doing some other work. Then I became very tall and slim, so I thought, let me join this industry."

"I did one ramp show and after that it became my passion. I'm so in love with this, it's like my dream come true because I always wanted to model!" exclaims Jaspal.

And in a pleasant departure from the norm, her family couldn't be happier with her choice of career. "My parents are very supportive, they are like my friends -- my best friends. They just love me doing all this. In fact my Dad just dropped me here (to the audition), he's really happy," she says.

'My heritage in India is from Rajasthan and UP'

Image: Model Niharica Raizada
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/

Twenty three-year-old Niharica Raizada stands apart from the crowd at the audition like a breath of fresh air.

In stark contrast to the rest of the heavily made-up, decked up models, she lets her natural beauty do the talking for her. Minimal day makeup, a sunny yellow dress and chic clogs are what she relies on -- along with her striking grey eyes, dimples and tumbling curls.

"I'm an actor and I'm from abroad -- Luxembourg -- but my heritage in India is from Rajasthan and UP," she proclaims.

Niharica won a pageant -- Miss India Worldwide -- in 2011, which kickstarted her modelling career. She's now here to claim her piece of the pie, because modelling, as she puts it, is "a great field."

'I'd like to become a Bollywood actress'

Image: Model Shruti Kapoor
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/

Another gal who seems to have entered the industry using the pageant route is 22-year-old Shruti Kapoor.

"I got selected for Femina Miss India and since then I've been modelling," she tells us.

And where is she from? "I'm born and brought up in Dehradun, but live in Mumbai now," Shruti says. "I'm a model and a theatre professional -- I act. I'd like to become a Bollywood actress more than a supermodel."

No suprise there -- so do thousands of others in modelling!

'I took up the fashion field mainstream'

Image: Model Abaad Shah
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/

After Shruti of Dehradun, we meet Kashmiri lad Abaad Shah -- well, almost.

"I'm basically from Kashmir but brought up here in Mumbai," he explains.

And unlike most of his male colleagues, the 24-year-old is a full-time model.

"Initially my parents questioned my choice of career, but I cleared their doubts. I think as you grow and start to become a good model, start developing yourself, all the obstacles go away."

And where did the passion for this field ignite?

"I used to study in KC College. We used to have fashion events and that's when I thought that I could be a model -- that's where it all started. Then I graduated and yeah, I took up the fashion field mainstream," states Abaad.

'I do modelling because I have a lot of free time'

Image: Model Reyhna Malhotra
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/

Before we leave the models to their fate at the IRFW auditions, we manage to speak to one last hopeful, also from Kashmir -- 24-year-old Reyhna Malhotra.

"I like that! 'How young are you?' It doesn't hurt the ego of a woman!" she laughs in response to our tactfully framed question.

Then she goes on to tell us about what she wants from her modelling career -- apparently, Reyhna sees it as nothing more than a stepping stone. "Acting is my passion, but I do modelling because I have a lot of free time! So it' a part-time thing. I just did a show with Vogue -- that was the beginning of my ramp work," she explains.

And what if she had the choice of becoming a supermodel, as compared to just another actress?

"That's a very difficult question to answer! But I think I would love to establish myself, my name -- Reyhna -- first. Then I could see my self as any one of them (model or actress), but I think it would be better if I could be both!"

And with that, she hears her name announced -- it's time to show the judges what she's got.

Will she be strutting her stuff at the India Resort Fashion Week? We'll know soon enough.