'Inhibitions about modelling have changed in India'

Models showing off their trendy hair styles during the Schwarzkopf Professional workshop in Hyderabad. Sushma Puri says, parents believe being in a female-dominated territory saves their daughters from any kind of harassment. Photo: Abhijit Dev Kumar  

Sushma Puri, perhaps the first in India to introduce the concept of a modelling agency, says there has been a seachange in the mindset of parents who are now more open to the idea of their daughters becoming models. But she also feels men don’t get a good deal in the industry.

“Today, we have parents visiting us with their 16-year-old girl to make her a model. Parents from the smaller cities are also encouraging their daughters to take up this profession. The reason for this change is their mindset,” Puri, Director and CEO of Elite Model Management India (EMMI), told IANS in an interview.

Puri, who was the first to bring the concept of a modelling agency to India when she decided to start EMMI in 2003, says parents believe being in a female-dominated territory saves them from any kind of harassment.

“Today we all know that the fashion industry is a female-dominated profession; hence all the inhibitions regarding modelling have changed and parents are very much open about it. They feel it is the safest profession for their girls,” she said.

Her agency has churned out celebrities like Kangana Ranaut, “Slumdog Millionaire” star Freida Pinto and Miss Indias like Neha Kapur, Ekta Chaudhary and Manasvi Mamgai.

Recollecting what a daunting task it was, Puri said, “That time modelling was looked down upon as a profession. So convincing clients and coordinators took a lot of time. We wanted to bring transparency in the profession which was missing earlier.”

Today EMMI has offices in Delhi and Mumbai with around 30 people working on the models. Puri also mentions they have only female workers in the office and it is a policy decision.

“Well, the time we started, fashion wasn’t considered a great profession; so we decided that we will hire only girls to prove a point that girls alone can take a business like this to a higher level if they have perfection,” explained Puri.

“So now when things have changed, we are planning to stick to the decision,” she added.

So how does EMMI work?

“See, we do various model scouting activities from where we choose faces that have the potential to be a model. Also, there are times when we see a good face in a pub or a cafe, we approach them, ask them if they are interested in modelling and take them on board with us,” said Puri.

Explaining further, Puri added each new girl is then assigned to a booker, a girl who takes care of her career graph and grooming.

“Every new face who is with us has to sign a three-year contract. For a year we train them and then for next two years, we try to get them good assignments and movies,” said Puri.

“A booker takes care of 10 girls at a time and she is solely responsible for shaping the career of that model,” she added.

While the big names that the agency has launched are predominately women, Puri confesses that male models are given a raw deal in the industry.

“We sign up very few male models. The fact is that there is not much work available and also in terms of money - they get a raw deal,” explained Puri.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 2:06:22 PM |

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