He’s sitting beside the other commuters. He suddenly gets up, sits down again and says, “I want stand out from the crowd. I want to be famous.” We met Ankit Verma, 20, at a bus stop one night in South Extension-I, a market famous for expensive showrooms.
With his gelled hair, fit body and dimpled smile, Verma looks more groomed than the ‘normal people’ around him. He lives in the neighbourhood and is out for a night time walk, resting for a few minutes at the bus stop. Over the din of the Ring Road traffic, he says, “First, I want to be a model, and then, I want to get into movies.”
A final year graduate student at Saket’s Bhagat Singh College, Verma earlier wanted to enter the administrative services. When a college friend praised his “good smile”, his ambitions shifted. “I’m 5ft 11; it’s the minimum height required to become a model.” His family was supportive. “My parents suggested that I focus on my studies and take up modeling as a hobby.”Verma’s father, a building contractor, gave him R 25,000 to get a portfolio done at a photography studio in Malviya Nagar.
The young man posed in a white Tee and blue jeans at a session inside the studio. For an outdoor shoot, he was dressed formally in a suit. No shirtless photo was taken. “I was bulky then,” he says.
His body had to be built up. Everyday, after attending classes, Verma worked out for two hours at the Fat-to-Fit gym in East of Kailash. “First, the cardios (treadmill, crosstrainer), then abs (crunches, leg raises), and finally the weight training.” For lunch, he had roast or boiled chicken at the Shahi Kitchen near the gym. In the evening, he had his “supper” of protein shake, two slices of brown bread and two egg whites.
The next step was to get assignments. But Verma had no contacts in the modeling world. Walking past the closed South Extension showrooms, he narrates how one day he went to a newspaper’s office where he was pointlessly directed to floor after floor, and finally returned home disappointed. A few weeks later, he sent his portfolio to a modeling agency that helped him grab a commercial for a mobile phone company. The ad was shot in September in Jaipur’s international airport. Verma played a security officer. “It’s a minute long and I’ll appear for a second or so.” His first earning was R 2,000, that he spent with friends at a sheesha bar in East of Kailash.
Soon afterwards, Verma got a role in a TV comedy called Kya Haal Hai Jeejaji. “I auditioned for it at a flat in Sagar Apartment, Connaught Place.” Some of the shooting took place at a farmhouse in Chhatarpur. “I’m a boy called Ravi. It’s not the lead and I haven’t been explained his profile, but the character is emerging line by line.”
Verma says that he intends to join a theatre group. “I don’t have a role model, but one person whom I look up to is (actor) John Abraham. He was a model till 1999 and then he became a successful filmstar.”We ask him, “Do you really think you can be as famous as John Abraham?”
“I believe in hard work and patience.”
“What if things do not work out?”
“I’ll take over my father’s business as the last option.”