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Day Four. Not a great day at all. Old faces, new clothes and new accessories. Sitting in the front row for a fashion show, I realise how uncomfortable it feels when you have to face an audience that is interested in capturing you on camera and making you the subject of discussion and criticism. A model has to look perfect in every way. There are people all around who are judging them on looks, gait, smile, midriff, legs, back etc myself included.
When I was entering the venue, I overheard a guy telling his friend, "Yaar, soch zara, yahan koi wardrobe malfunction ho jaye to kitna maza aayega! Maine kabhi nahin dekha, lekin suna hain shows mein ek to hota hain" ("Just imagine, what fun it will be if we get to witness a wardrobe malfunction here! I have never seen one, but I heard that there is at least one such incident in these shows").
I couldn't help but doubt the intention of other similar attendees. Even if someone wants to play down such an incident (assuming, of course, that one occurs), there are media representatives all around and it will be front page material for them and for me too. Why? How many of us do you think honestly check out the designs and hard work of the designers when we are sifting through the ramp pictures?
Everyone here is interested in the show of skin, useless trivia, sensational backstage stories and controversies. There is so little motivation for a journalist when that's all readers want to know about. There are more than 100 odd designers here, 100 odd stories of struggle and talent, but how many of us want to read them? It's embarrassing to realise any celebrity who makes a quick entry and exit attracts the shutterbugs and takes the cake away from these artists. The next day's newspapers are flooded with the same picture featuring different bylines.
The whole Fashion Week has been sidelined by the anti-corruption movement. But let me tell you that even participants here feel the need to support the effort in their own way, even if they are not very hopeful about the outcome. Like this one designer who was stopped by a policeman on his way to the venue. He had his license taken away and was asked for a bribe. He now wants design tee-shirts on anti-corruption and distribute them for free to keep the movement alive. Models, who the world thinks are dumb, are aware about what is happening around them and want to support the cause.
Corruption has corroded all walks of life, only the stories here are different and difficult to relate to, considering that models and designers seem too trivial to discuss. Until, that is, they become celebrities hold press conferences voicing their support.
Even today, talented models are denied work because of favouritism among designers. A newcomer faces struggle if he doesn't meet the right people at the right time. When they can't complain, they have to compromise. The Indian fashion industry is no different from any other. People here do not value talent and urge newbies to pursue commercialism.
Their desperation to succeed and find a niche in a competitive market nudges them towards corruption. I am sure everyone here will have a story to narrate about why they want the movement to continue. Some of the most famous designers here do not make great outfits, but they sure make the news. In the end, that's what matters. Joh dikhta hain, woh bikta hain. But as a designer puts it, the show has to go on.
At the end of the day, we all have mouths to feed and a family to go home to. While all of us cannot end up going on a hunger strike and raising our voices, we can do our respective jobs and strive in our little ways to avoid being part of corrupt activities. Well, that's the best we can promise ourselves at this stage.