Of the 10 girls of South Asian origin who sizzle in the third Desiclub annual swimsuit calendar released here last month, the — Rakhee Gandhi, Ridhi Patel and Bansari Shah — are of Gujarati origin. These girls were chosen to represent the bold face of the young generation of the South Asian community in the US.
While Gandhi is into modelling, acting and photography, and has worked as a production director, Shah works as a staffing coordinator in a New Jersey-based HR firm. Patel is a host and talent on desiyou, an online video content website, and is a winner of Miss India America-2008 title.
Desiclub.com, a leading North America-based NRI networking site, came up with this first-of-its-kind concept here two years back. Gandhi and Shah were featured in the 2008 calendar too. “It needs courage to do what we have done. We have portrayed ‘desi women’ in a new light and projected them as people who are more than just domestic set pieces,” said Rakhee Gandhi who is based in Portland, Oregon. “It feels great that we have shown the world what desi women are really made of.”
Gandhi’s parents moved to the US from Thane (Maharashtra) and got into the hotel business. “My parents were supportive but sceptical. I think they didn’t realise the significance of this project until they actually saw the calendar and all the publicity it received,” she said. Bansari Shah’s parents hail from Mumbai and work for large organisations in New Jersey. “They are proud of the calendar project,” she said. A student of business economics, law and Spanish, besides being an aspiring lawyer, Patel grew up in a typical Gujarati household. Her parents – father a Gujarati from Kenya and mother from Gujarat - moved to the US in 1980 where they run a family-owned print shop in Rancho Cucamonga, California.
“The calendar helped me break out of typical Indian modelling. It is not the norm for desi girls to do a swimsuit shoot, but I feel it is also about fitness and confidence and, lastly, about showing how we, as South Asian women, are growing in the modelling world,” Shah said.