Beyond the gitz and glam

The world of modelling is unlike any other. The lifespan of a model is short lived and the competition – sky high. Still there are many who love the limelight and choose to enter the fashion industry looking to make their mark. Anirudh Banagiri has been a model for six years and Sadhna Singh for nine. While Anirudh also works as the director of Star Brand Inc., a casting and endorsement company, and dreams of one day being a Show Stopper at the Milan Fashion Week, Sadhna is a full time model who wants to open an NGO to aide animal welfare along with being a Choreographer and a Boutique owner. These experienced models answer the tough questions we have all wanted hear.

1.How did you get spotted?

Anirudh: Well I am tall, fair, and I wear an attitude on my face; and that’s what is required to be a model so it was quite easy to spot me. (laughs)

Sadhna: I was in a Frankfinn course and my institute had conducted a Miss Frankfinn South contest.  We were sent to Mr. Imran Khan for walking practice and that’s when he offered me my first show for the new years in Vizag.

2. What was your first pay?

Anirudh: My first pay was Rs. 4000/-
Sadhna: My first pay was Rs. 3000/-

3. Why do you like modelling?

Anirudh: It is a break for me where I get to get away and be confident. It is also great fun.
Sadhna: I can really breathe on the runway. Everything about modelling is beautiful, the makeup, hair, outfits, travel, meeting new people, learning to laugh in stress just before the show starts. Also there are people showing up to watch me, which elevates my selfworth.

4. What do you hate about modelling?

Anirudh: There is absolutely nothing I can hate about modelling.
Sadhna: Hate would be too strong a word but I dislike some people who use this industry to bring out their dark side.

5. Can you share any unsavoury incidents involving choreographers, clients, organisers etc that you feel need not have happened or could have been handled better?

Anirudh: The biggest reason I enjoy modelling is because of the feeling of freedom it gives me and also what it does for my self-esteem to have the confidence to stand in front of a camera or audience. I also get to see what else my body can become, or how I can be made to look like (especially figure drawings). To me, that’s really fascinating. Any unsavoury incidents are few and far apart and don’t compare to the positives I take away from the profession.
Sadhna:  By God’s grace I have not encountered too many such situations. But I remember when I was new to Mumbai I had went to a meeting for a print advertisement and the client had called me to a very strange small lodge to meet. I was new to the industry and innocent enough to go there to meet him in his room. There were three other heavy uncles sitting and drinking in the room at 5pm. The moment I entered I knew I was not safe and that I had to act accordingly! The client then offered me 3lakhs to do the shoot plus ‘be’ with him. I knew if I rejected the offer he wouldn’t have let me go, so I got up and said, “Sure I’ll do whatever you like but now I have another meeting so I’ll back in an hour.” They let me go but the moment I came out I ran on to the road and called my dad. That was the first time that I cried the whole day because I was terrified! It was a terrible experience but after that I became a much more alert and smart.

6. Have you been involved in ramp walk faux pas or any wardrobe malfunction situation even if it was just a badly fitted dress or tear that had to be hidden?

Anirudh: No.
Sadhna: Not once but quite a few times. Just before the show my outfit’s zip broke and I walked holding the garment together on the side. In one show I had no time and had to rush to my second change which was a saree; my helper tied it so tight that I got on ramp and walked exactly three steps when I had to turn back because it was way too tight to walk in. But these minor things are funny incidents.

7. We have heard stories about models being cramped in a single room to spend the night due to budget constraints. Have you faced such struggles?

Anirudh: I have never faced such situations.
Sadhna: Oh no never! I have been lucky enough to be able to work with a good standard of people. I don’t compromise on comfort and I would walk out if I find such scenarios.
I model because I love the runway and the camera.

8. What’s your say on the comparison of models in the South with those from the North? Are South models being sidelined?

Anirudh: South models don’t get the Anirudhe opportunities to be groomed compared to those in the North. South models need more fashion shows and more photoshoots so that they can be migrated to other cities. The scope here is quite low; also the society out here is quite conservative.
Sadhna: I don’t agree that south models are sidelined. Most of my model friends from South are doing extremely well for themselves and a few have also reached Paris.  At the end of the day it’s how good a model you are and not where you come from.  For example most of the actors living in Mumbai are not from Mumbai but many are successful. It is you who can reach the top based on your talent and nothing can pull you down or sideline you if you know your aim and goal in life.

9. Do South Indian models need to embrace the “size zero” trend?

Anirudh: Yes, definitely.
Sadhna: To be honest we Indian models are not all size zero. Size zero is embraced well by European models. Hum toh khaate peethe desh ke hai. (laughs) But one definitely needs to be fit enough to make the garment look it’s best on the runway because for a designer, jo dikhtha hai woh bikta hai, so one must be fit and in shape.

10. How is the experience of walking ramps up at North? How different is it from down South?

Anirudh: The on ramp experiences are quite similar but I believe that models particularly in the South should have another job because there are very few fashion shows or shoots happening here.
Sadhna: Audiences in the North are more active fashion lovers and enjoy a fashion show. I love to see an active crowd and it is a treat to your eyes to have a fashionable crowd.

11. Models from the North have far more exposure and are regularly used by international brands. comment.

Anirudh: As I said the scope for grooming is lower here so that is something that needs to be worked on.
Sadhna: Yes that’s because of a lack of productive agencies or casting companies here. We don’t have the right agents to reach these international brands.

12. What do you feel about the advent of foreign models and how they have influenced the ramp walk trends?

Anirudh: It has both positive and negative effects.
Sadhna: Foreign models are given more footage when compared to an Indian in India. There are two reasons for this. One they agree to work for far lesser rates and two they are not particular about what one makes them wear. I was shocked when I was in Delhi recently and I went for a casting with a Polish girl. They rejected me because the client wants a foreign girl for saree ad but wants the foreign girl to look like an Indian; I don’t understand the logic. When a product is being sold, if I was a client, I would want to make an ad in such a way that my audience can relate to it and not be put off but thinking, ‘oh this saree looks good on a European but how would it look on me?’ This colour discrimination is a shame and the biggest disadvantage for Indian models.

13. Are fair models preferred more as compared to dark-skinned ones?

Anirudh: I feel that one place on earth where there is no racism is in the modelling industry.
Sadhna: Absolutely.

14. Can you comment on the fashion culture down South? Have you ever been in a situation where you have regretted being from the South?

Anirudh: No I’ve never regretted it.
Sadhna: I am a Rajput but brought up in South. I am happy and proud about it. The South has a very simple yet elegant style and culture.

15. What is your beauty and exercise regimen like?

Anirudh: Eat healthy, work out daily, be happy.
Sadhna: I am a complete foodie but yes I try n not miss my gym. I work out for an hour everyday and God’s gifted me with great genes so I remain in shape no matter what I eat.

16. Any interesting incidents involving shows you have done, people you have worked with etc.?

Anirudh: Every show is filled with such incidents. They are all moments to savour.
Sadhna: I love being backstage with my friends. There are so many stories, we are constantly laughing. In one particular incident, my dear friend Priyanka Shah, who is an amazing person, comes backstage to get ready for the show. We had to carry our own heels and as the show was about to begin she realised that she had got two different heels for the same foot. I couldn’t stop laughing as she wore them and walked out on the ramp.

17. Can you talk about clients and how different they are from each other?

Anirudh: Everyone has different preferences.
Sadhna: Each client is different in their preference of looks or height. There can be a day when a client doesn’t want skinny girl but it doesn’t make one a bad model.

18. Do you get movie offers? Not many South models have been able to transition from the ramp to films. What’s your take on that?

Anirudh: Yes I have received offers and they are being discussed.
Sadhna: The South crowd likes healthy actresses.  And models are not as healthy so that could be the reason.

19. What’s your take on beauty pageants and the process involved? How helpful is it to be a beauty queen in order to further your modelling career?

Anirudh: Sadhna would be better to answer that.
Sadhna: Beauty pageants are great platforms for new girls. It gives you a good exposure, and the training process makes you a different person altogether. Winning the crown is great but nothing comes easy.

20. There used to be a stigma against modelling in conservative South Indian families. How have your folks treated your choice of career?

Anirudh: My mother always supported me and my dad initiated me to join the gym and become regular at it.
Sadhna: My parents initially were not so too happy because they wanted me to study and do a job or be in government sector. But after few months they became my strongest support pillars. They have stood by me for the last eight years.