In Indian cinema, we’ve never strayed too far from the Rudolph Valentino standard of good looks and romantic posturing. Which is what makes guys like me popular. I’ve always been associated with a certain physical standard, but ever since Dostana, I’ve been getting “that look” a lot.
It’s flattering, of course. Especially when women come up to me for advice. Like this other day, an instructor at a gym advised a lady and she seemed unsure. She quietly came to me and asked me if her instructor was right and what she should eat. Of course, I had no idea about her medical history, so I told her that she needs to take her nutritionist’s, her doctor’s and her trainer’s advice. I suppose she just needed somebody to talk to for a second opinion.
But my physicality is not my only USP. I believe that a lot goes into making you a complete human being: your upbringing and intelligence show through, no matter how good-looking you are.
I grew up skinny and gangly like a lot of adolescent boys, and it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I began to grow into a person that anybody would care to look at. In fact, my first modelling job came when a male model neglected to arrive at the shoot. It was my boss who suggested that I take his place.
I was surprised and not a little amused. But I knew the needs of the project and stepped in eagerly. My decision to step into the Glad Rags Manhunt contest was a “Who, me?” moment. I still remember hastily writing my application on a fairly bedraggled piece of paper, in the parking lot, long after the last day for application was past.
But the person I am today wasn’t made in front of the thousand cameras that I have faced in my life. And I have to thank my parents for that. I did not grow up knowing that my parents were superstars and I was expected to be one as well. I thank my stars every day for that as well.
I have several friends in the industry who had to live with that expectation and I have no idea how they coped. I am glad that the organisers of the Mumbai Marathon chose me to be one of their flag-bearers, as they have for the past few years. Although my leg hurt incredibly, I loved being there. I am glad, that despite the recent unpleasantness in Mumbai, the spirit and the celebration of life that is Mumbai was evident in the Mumbai Marathon still. I will be back next year, and hopefully, will be there to run again.