They may have been born thousands of miles apart but Jharkhand’s dhaba (highway eatery) owner, Rahul Sahu and Pakistan’s chaiwala (tea vendor) –turned-model, Arshand Khan, have several things in common.
Both sold tea, had very humble beginnings, before their stunning looks transported them to the glamour world and turned them into hot fashion models.
However, unlike the illiterate Khan, this Indian dhaba owner-turned-model is educated, holds a master degree in computer science, speaks good English and has tremendous business acumen.
HT caught up with Sahu, 29, recently at his ‘Ma Dhaba’, now a prominent landmark on NH33 near Tamar between Jharkhand capital Ranchi and steel city, Jamshedpur. Seated on the cash counter, he was directing the waiters to attend to customers with courtesy, even as he sat down for a chat.
Shuttling between Ranchi and Mumbai-- for his modelling assignments and a massive female fan following- the handsome young man has his feet firmly planted on the ground.
With his elder brother, Vicky Sahu, who is also his mentor and guide, Rahul spends most of the time innovating so that his eatery can be more of a delight to customers. Many customers love to see him and even pose with him for a pix.
How did he take to modelling? “It was a winter afternoon in 2013. I was at the dhaba when a customer from Mumbai came to me, handed me a visiting card and asked me to come to Mumbai if I was interested in modelling. I left for Mumbai in February 2013 and immediately bagged a few offers,” said Rahul, calm and composed.
There has been no looking back since as he was sucked into the glamour world doing print shoots and walking the ramp.
Tall, fair and muscular, Rahul has worked for Mufti, did modelling shows for international designer Daniel Syeim, did innumerable print shoots and also walked the ramp at Hotel Taj.
As a child, Rahul was a good student. Despite running a dhaba, his father ensured his younger son went to a good school and got the best education. He did his tenth from the reputed Bishop Westcott, Saiko and plus two from Gossner College, Ranchi before he went to Pune for further studies.
Out of collegeand armed with a master degree, he took up his first job with KPIT Cummins, Pune when he heard the heartbreaking news of his father’s demise. Suspected Maoists had killed his dad on November 1, 2010. Police have still not been able to crack the case , or arrest the killers.
“I had lost my mother too early. I wanted my dad to live with us longer. But destiny had kept our association too short,” said Rahul, as his eyes welled with tears.
He quit his job of three months and with his elder brother took charge of the dhaba which his dad had started. The modelling offer came three years later.
Presently, with the dhaba business taking off well and his elder brother left alone to handle the responsibilities of both business and family, Rahul listened to his conscience and retuned home last year from Mumbai.
He now takes modelling as a pastime and is devoting his time and energy in developing his dhaba into a model resort.
Directors, producers and Bollywood personalities crossing the highway and stopping at the Ma Dhaba for tea and snacks often suggest to him return to Mumbai and stay there for a big career break, but home is where his heart is.
A bachelor still, Rahul has no airs about his looks. He attributes it to God and parents.