Fashion Week season again. I remember when I started out as a model, the concept of Fashion Week had just started in India. It wasn’t a great time for male models. We were paid 30 per cent less than what we deserved and were told not to expect to walk the ramp for too many shows.
This one time a woman came up to me and said I would be paid for five or six shows, though I was on for 12 and was told to organise my own stay. I could not believe it, I just stared at her, did she think I was a Zoolander? And the funny thing is, she looked at me as though she couldn’t believe my reaction. I was a male model and it was customary for male models to be treated as second class citizens. I stood out because I refused to be treated like that.
In fact at the Fashion Awards, I was asked if I had an agenda as a male model and I said, “I want to stand up for a tribe called male models who don’t think they exist.” That is really the case, male models never stood up for themselves. Things may be different now, there are some smart chaps out there and I sincerely hope things have changed.
I walked the ramp last year for Narendra Kumar Ahmed, and even though he wanted me to be the show-stopper I refused. I would walk as a model, not in the beginning or the end, but as a model with the rest of them. I believe I am a clothes horse, and no matter what I am today I started out as a model.
I don’t follow Fashion Weeks now because there are so many of them, but if I do walk the ramp it will always be as a model. When I see actors and actresses walk the ramp I am always tempted to correct them and give them tips on how to walk. I learned how to walk from Kelly Dorjee during our training for Gladrags. What a coincidence that I should think of those days now. Kelly had knee surgery just recently.
And, you know, the lady responsible for brand John Abraham is Maureen Wadia. She taught me everything and made me a complete package. She says that 99 per cent of the aspirants of Gladrags she meets today say they want to emulate John Abraham. I feel proud, but it is her success and I am very happy.
In 2001, I was walking the ramp for Rohit Bal when Priyanka Gandhi was sitting in the audience. She is my most favourite person in the world and, as luck would have it, my churidaar suddenly split open from both ends. I walked the ramp feeling quite sheepish, but I managed to conceal the disaster.
We models know exactly when and how to conceal and when and how to reveal. That’s why my shower scene in Dostana was so easy, because I was a model first.