Rajeev Pillai handles dentistry and modelling with aplomb, he straddles two different worlds

Rajeev Pillai is a dentist and he has been very busy this last year-and-a-half. There was the Lakme India Fashion Week (three editions), the Wills Lifestyle Fashion Week and then the Couture Week as well.

No, he wasn't fixing models' teeth; he was one of the models. In fact, he was one of the models who walked the ramp for Karan Johar's collection which had the Biggest B and Hrithik Roshan as the showstoppers.

This is not your average ‘born and brought up elsewhere non-resident Malayali' feel good type story. This one is about a boy (of comfortable means) born and brought up in Kerala, in Vallamkulam (Changanasserry), educated in Thiruvalla and Karnataka (dentistry); heading to London for higher studies and then taking a detour of sorts and landing up in Mumbai and walking the ramp there. Of his stint in London he says, “getting into University College of London was tough but two weeks into the course I felt restless and opted out,” says Rajeev. He did do a course in hospital management there.

The real model

We are not talking about your average ‘local' model featuring in ad campaigns for furniture or the many jewellery brands. This is the real McCoy. Six feet plus tall, chiselled face (there's a passing resemblance to Hrithik Roshan) and a physique that has seen many (many) sessions in the gym. Apparently the north-south divide exists as far as ramp modelling goes, that it is ‘tougher than it is for the north Indian, there is no place for laxity. You just got to be on your toes, perpetually.'

Rajeev has walked the ramp for designers such as Abhishek Dutta, Chaitanya Rao, Digvijay Singh, Varun Bahl, Arjun Khanna and Karan Johar. In fact, during Couture Week he walked the ramp for almost all the men's wear collections. ‘Hard work and a lot of perseverance', is his prescription for what he has managed to do. An interest in the world of ‘glamour' and helpful friends got him a toehold in the ‘industry'.

“Once you are selected as a model for ramp show, things don't get easy. You have to audition every time for every show.” For the Fashion Weeks he was selected by choreographers who are considered top in India today; Marc Robinson (Lakme Fashion Week), Lubna Adams (Couture Week) and Apu-Tania (Wills). “You don't learn anything when you are chosen for the Fashion Weeks, you are expected to know your stuff when you head for the audition itself,” he says of his ramp experience.

Walking the ramp for K. Jo (Karan Johar), and sharing ramp space with Amitabh Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan., and Shahrukh Khan… how was that? He smiles that smile of a veteran. And then he goes about explaining how SRK wasn't supposed to walk the ramp, “he was just sitting there in the audience, Mr. Bachchan and Hrithik called him on stage that is how he was among the showstoppers.”

Film career

Modelling is another aspect of this actor who will feature in director Deepan's ‘London Dreams', which will be shot in London.

‘London Dreams', however, is not his debut film; he has done an ‘itsy bitsy' role in Amal Neerad's latest offering ‘Anwar'.

Showbiz in its many avatars seem to be taking up a lot of Rajeev's time so where does extracting teeth or doing a root canal treatment figure in the scheme? “It is my safety net. That is my profession. I realise that I cannot be a model forever. And whenever I am in town I do make it a point to go to the clinic.” He practises in a friend's clinic in Kalamaserry.

His parents initially, naturally, had a problem with the trajectory his life was taking. They don't have any problems now, he says.

Rajeev has an interesting take on life, “I don't want to later on in life think of things I could have done, should have done...” Touché, we say.

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