Model dilemma

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FINE LINE Many models take to acting, and actors to the ramp
FINE LINE Many models take to acting, and actors to the ramp

Threatened by Bollywood and pigeonholed by the media, models are a worried lot these days

“People don’t expect me to even enter the kitchen, leave alone cook well,” laments Diandra Soares. Call it stereotype or the nature of work, we get to see a monochromatic image of our models. “Courtesy my bold image on the ramp, people think I’m unapproachable, which is not true,”says supermodel Nina Manuel.

These ravishing models are not alone. Sameer Soni, a leading model and actor, says it hurts when the media terms the industry as full of people with loose morals and alternative sexual preferences. “Such people are present in every field. Just because the fashion and entertainment industry are under flashbulbs all the time, we have to face such generalisations,” says Soni, who is playing a gay designer in Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Fashion”.

Generally we think it’s the actors who face the threat from the models, but it’s the other way round as well. “Models are no longer used as showstoppers, as was the norm earlier. Now designers bring in their Bollywood friends. We feel neglected,” says Diandra. “In fact, be it ramp or television commercials, cricketers and actors have taken up lots of assignments, which were meant for models,” she adds. Nina agrees that it is a trend, but doesn’t find it unhealthy. “There is no longer a line between fashion and films. There are some models who fit into the Bollywood frame, and there are some actors who are ideal for the ramp. Of course, friendship and business deals also decide the showstopper at times.”

Once theatre used to be a breeding ground for actors. Today the ramp is giving it competition , leaving designers little to choose from. A recent renegade is Muzzamil Ibrahim, who quit modelling at the height of his popularity to do Pooja Bhatt’s “Dhoka”. The film failed but he doesn’t want to return to the fold. “Modelling is no longer the career it used to be some years ago, particularly for men. Today, almost anybody with a good face and a fake accent can become a model, as many designers don’t value class. I don’t want to be seen with such models. So I have reduced my assignments considerably. Theatre continues to be important, but some people like me discover their creative instincts while facing the camera for television commercials.”

Diandra, who is a mentor on Channel V’s Get Gorgeous, agrees that most youngsters don’t know that modelling and acting are two different worlds with special requirements. “After Bipasha’s success, many young girls come for glamour and easy money and use modelling as a stopover to move to films, and in the process lose out on both. Modelling is not just about looking good. It requires discipline and lots of stamina.” It demands certain physical attributes like height. Now girls ask me why they can’t walk the ramp when petite models like Malaika Arora and Yana Gupta. They don’t understand when Malaika did it there were not many options for designers and Yana had the backing of a cosmetics company.” Similarly, she says, Bollywood demands certain traits. This confusion, says Nina, is responsible for India not being able to produce supermodels anymore. “A supermodel has a distinct personality, an aura, which the current crop doesn’t have. They all look the same.”





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