Model Sahil Shroff is on a high these days. Currently seen in the Lux ad with Aishwarya Rai and the Tata Indica ‘Dumb, Dumb, Dumb’ ad, he moved bag and baggage from Australia to pursue a career here.
Ditto for Brit boys Owais Khan and Asad Shan. Not to mention English cricketer Usmaan Afzaal, who hosts a cricketing show on a national news channel.
So what is it that brings these boys here? Does it really make sense for them to pursue a career here when they’d easily earn in dollars and pounds abroad? Asad, seen in Kunika Lal’s ‘Ya Ali’ video, clarifies “Honestly, it’s not just about the money.
It’s also about opportunity and your own inner belief.” Not to mention the fame and recognition that come along with the turf. “India is a bigger market; there’s more velocity here. The ‘celebrity factor’ is part of the larger picture,” confesses Sahil.
The age and height factor also play an important role. Explains Owais, “I’m 6 feet 4 inches tall and that’s a couple of inches taller than the UK standard. Having modelled in the UK for nine years, it made sense to explore options here.”
With the average working age of 24-25 years for models in Europe, “It seems like a good idea to model in India where guys work till they are 35,” informs Asad, who has been modelling since age 17.
What about Bollywood? Is a career in films their eventual goal? “Having grown up on Bollywood I’d definitely like to have a shot at it,” admits Asad, who has acted in short films and plays back home. It is his contention that there are no roles for brown skin in mainstream cinema abroad and cites the example of Aishwarya Rai.
“Even Aishwarya plays an Indian character in the films she does.” For Sahil, “It’s never say never if the big screen beckons.” According to Owais, the ability to speak in Hindi, “and my personal flavour and experience,” as he puts it, are an advantage.
And if their desi dreams fail to materialise these boys have a backup plan as well. “We have a family business in Mumbai and I’m looking at getting into export,” says Sahil, who has a Master’s degree in Applied IT from Monash University, Australia.
With a family business in property and investments, Owais is managing director of a division he founded that deals with property lettings and management. He says “Having established myself back home, I’m here now with my parents’ blessings.”
All said and done, these lads sure know what they want and are more than willing to go the distance to realise their desi dreams.