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— Jasmeen Dugal

Sucheta Sharma James makes flashbulbs pop like no other. Her expressive eyes, lofty cheekbones and fit bod makes her one of the most coveted models on the catwalk! Though she would love to model throughout her life, she is working on a second career in fitness with her husband, who is a top fitness trainer for supermodels, celebrities and corporate folk. So when I heard she was one of the mentors at National Academy Of Modelling And Grooming, it was time for a conversation!


''Earlier, models were bold and confident of who they were. They worked without agencies and representatives and still raised the bar high for next-gen models. They became supermodels purely on their merit because everyone took their training absolutely seriously. Their passion to learn the business properly made them reign their stardom for decades, be it a guy or a girl, but today aspiring models want short term success. It's like everyone is playing a lottery with their fate; if it clicks, good else they vanish in couple of years!! And sometimes I see real talent getting wasted because there is no right guidance for them. I say this to all models — 'energy without focus is chaos!' No one cares if you fail, but if you make it, all of them are your friends. So today if you really want to go far you must find a mentor from the industry and learn the tools to survive. The International fashion industry is open to Indian girls but I would stress on training — it is an integral part of a successful career. Polish your skills before you throw yourself in the highly competitive fashion industry be it your own country or overseas. It's good to dream big but to make these dreams a reality one needs to have a plan of action; that doesn't come without experience so get a mentor!! The National Academy Of Modelling And Grooming has Diandra Soares, Shakir Shaikh, myself and others; use our experience to climb the ladder of success.


I have always taken fitness seriously because since the beginning of my career I followed International runways and observed that all the models walking for the big shows have the best bodies in the business… Victoria Secret girls being the most seductive, beautiful, super fit and superbods!! You get in the business where one face is better than the other then how do you stand out? How do you get noticed and be hard to forget? I understood this quite early in my career that if I want to stand out in a group of the most good looking people, I have to be more than just a pretty face. Also, it keeps you away from self doubt because you are putting in the work and trust me when you look good overall there is no room for insecurity and negativity. You start to accept yourself, love yourself and inspire others to follow your path. Everyone appreciates you even more because they see a committed, dedicated person and who wouldn't respect that huh??? More significantly Indian designers now showcase their collections worldwide and uses International models for their shows. The designers' expectations from a model are much, much higher than it was ever before!! I have seen models getting dropped from shows at the last minute just because she or he doesn't fit in the garments. Therefore in today's times you have to be more than just a pretty face; you have to be fit. That said, I must highlight here that most models are following a cookie-cutter mould. Individuality is missing because it takes time and experience to discover your strengths and weaknesses. You might be good but who cares about good when you are competing among the best?! I've met young girls and boys who call their strength, their weakness! They don't understand that their strength makes them different from the rest — that's their beauty, that's their strongest asset!


My job at National Academy Of Modelling And Grooming is to find the depth in these young models and make them realise how precious they are, what their assets are, how they should work on flaws, what is changeable and needs to be worked on, and what they need to embrace and move on in life. I need to see how badly they want it. Is modelling their passion or just an impulsive call? Is it a 'prove to society' kind of action or are they doing it for themselves? I need to see the fire in them. Most girls have their goals set so high that they want to become Priyanka Chopra or Katrina Kaif but half an hour of training and you see them regretting their decision which they made on an impulse. They think fashion and glamour is a very easy life where one can get famous and earn lots of money because they have been 'told' they are pretty or tall but no one understands the mountain of work PC or Kat has put in to be where they are!! If you want to become a model, first of all you have to make big sacrifices; for example forget long sleeping hours, forget the pampering you get at home, forget seeing your family and loved ones for long periods of time, embrace long hours of work in high heels [ouch uncomfortable right?!], accept hardcore criticism, accept that there wont be a fixed time for meals [most times you would be offered burgers or sandwiches for meals, so how do you stay fit???]. You will be given no time to exercise but you have to carve time!! No one will wait for you; if you have a habit of reaching late you will be done before you even start!! Maintaining yourself will cost you whether you make that money through modelling or not. So, my dear, if you haven't thought about it and jumped in blindly, you are most likely to get hurt. A training program will prepare you for all the adversity of the glamour world so you sail through easily.


The National Academy Of Modelling And Grooming is a great place for beginners because we are always going to have our students' back. It's a training school which not only educates models but connects them with ace photographers, designers, choreographers and show directors. We are not going to leave you to fend for yourself. Neither we are going to take you on board just to make the count. if we can't get you work we wouldn't waste your time, neither yours nor ours, and specially ours because we believe in work, Serious Work!! My job is to imbibe discipline in the models. In fact, all the mentors have a common goal here — work towards the best interests of young talent and give them the right push. Show them the right direction so they move towards their goals and be their constant support. These lovely young kids come with such high expectations, most of which being unreal, so my first and foremost job is to break the bubble and welcome them to the real world. Then I will get into their system so deep that I can alter their flaws without breaking their spirit. I will make sure that they don't fly too high thinking they are ready to conquer the world… no, not yet. You need to stay humble otherwise you will disappear before you even know it. And so on. There are a lot of steps. The drill is going to be hard but as we all know — diamonds are made under pressure. Mentoring someone is a huge responsibility and shaping their career, being a part of their dreams, is rewarding. Wouldn't you be proud of your menthe if se or she does well? I am waiting for that moment.


I'm going to sign off with a nugget of wisdom — modelling isn't easy. You see a celebrity's lifestyle on social media and you think thaaaatttt is it. That's just a 'reel' part of their life. The 'real' part is hard work, sacrifices and pure passion. If you aren't passionate about modelling don't try it because with the first rejection and many to follow later, the amount of criticism and cut throat competition, you won't survive, child. Moreover, learning is very important. Embark on any career with a proper plan and guidance and you are likely to succeed. If your dreams are big, the amount of work you need to put in to make it a reality is going to be monstrous. Stars shines throughout the day but they are only seen at night. Be patient and consistent, stay focused and always, always, always give your 100 per cent. Compromised energy will give you compromised results. Don't trade your fate with laziness. You have got to buy success and it doesn't sell cheap, my friend.  I think for now this is enough!!! Waiting to share a lot more. See you at NAMG!''

Sucheta Sharma James
Supermodel Sucheta Sharma James
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