Creating top models

Amrita Prasad
Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Ananita Shroff Adajania and Atul Kasbekar talk about judging a new model hunt on Colors Infinity which will pit male and females contestants against each other

Top Model India, which premiered on Colors Infinity on Sunday, will offer a platform to young models from across the country and help transform them into ramp-ready models. The show which takes the style game multiple notches higher, is a first of its kind model hunt that will pit male and female contestants against each other. The show has model and actress Lisa Haydon, ace celebrity and fashion photographer Atul Kasbekar and celebrity stylist and costume designer Anaita Shroff Adajania as judges and Shibani Dandekar as mentor. 

Here’s chatting up Anaita and Atul... 

Anaita has revolutionised the concept of styling among celebrities, and has created some of the iconic looks for them, both on and off-screen. The  Vogue India’s Fashion Director, who has been in the industry for more than two decades, talks about the show. 

How important is it for a model to have a sense of personal style and fashion?
Looks, of course, is the first thing that attracts you. But in order to get rebooked, it is very important that models have a sense of style and they are able to carry a look that they have been given. They must add to the outfit and be able to give more to it than just hangers. Their personal style is what sets them apart from each other. All around the globe, models have been huge style icons and influencers of new trends.

What are the qualities that you are looking for in the models on the show?
The most important thing for me is that the show has models who present a sense of diversity. I do not want to see everyone looking the same from the same cookie-cutter mould. For me, what really works is people with different features coming from the different parts of the country - looking different, talking differently and feeling different. It is all about the wider view of beauty and not being restricted by the preconceived notions.

What is your own definition of a top model?
A top model is someone whose image and personality stays with me— someone who is fit and has a unique look and stands out. It could also be someone who has a bit of strange look. I am not always looking for perfection— a crooked nose, or gap between the teeth, big hips— works for me. It is about celebrating the imperfection. When I look at the models, I must feel special about them, that should stay for a long time for me.

How can a model do justice to a stylist’s vision and creativity?
The best way a model can do justice to a stylist’s vision is by listening. If you listen to the professionals around you, you can grow into a better model. Very often, models come to a shoot thinking they know the best, clinging on to their own attitude and style, but that’s not how it works. Every shoot has its own story and the stylist wants a certain feel about the shoot, whether it is the body language, the hair, the make-up or how the clothes are draped. Hence, it is very important for the models to be receptive. They definitely can add their flavour to the shoot but at any point of time, if that flavour is not needed, they should be happy to remove it from the table and work with what they are being told to do.

Has the fashion industry changed enough to get over its obsession with extremely skinny models? Is it ready to become inclusive?
As a stylist, I love styling women of different sizes, personalities, ethnicities, backgrounds. I have always been celebrating real women and I will continue to do so in whatever way I can. In my own humble way, I do whatever can be done to make diversity reign. I can’t speak for the entire industry but I know I am a champion of celebrating the different because according to me, different is beautiful.

Atul Kasbekar, the ace photographer who believes ‘What is really nice about this show is that both male and female models can participate and there will be only one winner,’ has also produced films like Neerja and Tumhari Sulu. Here’s his insight into the world of modelling: 

What according to you defines a true top model? What qualities are you looking for in the top models?
Every civilised country in the world has TV stars, film stars and modelling stars.  In India, the ‘supermodel’ died about a decade or a decade and a half ago which is a pity. Supermodels like Mehr Jessia, Sheetal Mallar, Noyonika Chatterjee and so on, they were genuine stars in their right and never needed to do films to become stars. If we can develop some supermodels out of the show and I am part of the process that does so, I will be very happy. For me, a supermodel is somebody who can handle all three forms---runway, print and film with ease and aplomb and carries an X-factor to them. On the show, the tasks have been inherently assigned based on what the contestants would face in the real world, which will prepare them for projects in the future. It is important that they follow the brief and instructions very well.

Besides being confident on the ramp, why is it essential for a model to be camera friendly?
The more range of knowledge you have, the better are your chances of getting different kinds of assignments. If you are only a ramp model, then that’s all you are going to do. But if you manage to look good in print and are confident enough to act and nail it in TV commercials, then you’ll be doing a lot more than runways. The show is grooming the models in these three spheres.

How is the show going to help aspiring models?
The show is like a great school— you’ve got fabulous and extremely talented and experienced people who are helping you groom and work out your best possible angles, and give you confidence. You take the advice and go out exploring the field. The experience that the contestants will get on the show is equivalent to having done 20-30 assignments and two years of work in the field.  It doesn’t matter if they win or lose the show, when the contestants go out, they will surprise the people who hire them.

What would be your message for those aspiring to be models and fashion photographers?
Photography is a passion-led profession. The field of photography has become extremely democratic today, anybody on a given day, with given tools and resources, can create a great photograph. However, it important to set yourself apart from the rest. When you have a deep knowledge of art and design and you bring a great level of aesthetics to your photograph, I think that’s when you make a difference.

Coming to models, your face and body are your fortunes and you must ensure that you look your best and stay in top physical condition. More importantly, give yourself a shot at assignments outside India as well because the concept of beauty worldwide has become very homogenised. There’s no one classic face and there’s a market for different looking faces. You must try your luck there, you could be the next one.

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