Supermodel and actor Danish Qayoum is worthy of hyperbole. Hailing from Bhaderwah, a small town in Jammu [in his words, 'google it and you will fall in love'], he was determined realise a cherished dream of walking for the topmost designers and achieved it with hard work. Today, he is the face of Raymond since five years. With chocolate skin, chiselled physique and a maturity that comes with experience, he is poised to be the next big thing in Bollywood. Over to him.
Danish have you always been aware of your appeal, I begin, taking him off-guard. ''This is like asking someone, 'do you know you breathe?' On a serious note, I may or may not know yet what this is exactly about… realising your potential takes years… or maybe just a moment… depending on one's way of looking at life. Coming back to the original question, sometimes 'yes' and at other times and 'no'. I like to think that I'm working on it.''
Is it true that there's cut- throat competition in modeling, I wonder? ''Competition is always there, but not with others, with own's inner self. If I feed the bad, it grows; if I feed the good, it beats the bad. I work hard on myself. Staying fit begins with the mind and then comes the body. Training my mind is a priority because only then can I work on my body with a lot more concentration. My diet is as normal as anyone else. But I make sure whatever goes in my system has to be useful. I workout everyday but if at times I don't feel like working on the body I work on other things like observing myself more and more, which works more than any workout, for me…''
Today he is one of the best models in the nation and poised to carve a niche in films. What's the best piece of advice that shaped his career, I ask? ''I waited for that a while and then I met my teacher Prashath Singh who's an acting coach and casting director by profession. He likes to listen to people and understand their core during his workshops. I met him during casting at Shanoo Sharma's office, casting director at YRF. He was there for a meeting, I assume and I happened to be there for casting. Instantly, he caught my eye when he said, 'aur kya chal raha hai life mein' and I honestly didn't know then 'kya chal raha hai'. Somehow I enquired about him and got in touch. To cut the story short, I joined his workshop and on the first day — this was a few years back *he's absolutely different when he's in his workshop* — he said, 'koi bhi sawaal bachkana nahi hota hai bas jawaab bachkana ho sakta hai.' That struck a chord within me and I began to see everyone differently. There's a lot that happened during that ten- day workshop and what I learnt there, was about life more than acting.''
''That said, I've done a lot of campaigns, shows and few TVCs. The one, which enlightened me a little more about this industry, is Raymond. Being the face for Raymond [made to measure] since the past five years has given me good exposure and opportunity to work with few of the best photographers, stylists and creatives. Of course, I'd like to add, that where I started from is my love for the runway. I'm so grateful to all the designers, choreographers and backstage teams who have contributed so much towards making each event successful and while writing this, I can clearly recall everyone. So, for me, each event is memorable. If you ask me about my biggest success… it's not an easy question because I see everything as a success, as I got the opportunity to do it. There are many models who may have wanted to achieve what I have… or on the other hand I could be in their position wanting to do what they have done so far. So success for me is something else altogether… That said, I've always believed that the quality of work matters. If you see my body of work, I have always stayed true to this, and I will always, Inshallah, be like this no matter what I do. Quality matters to me. I believe the more you want, the less you get; the more you do, the less it shows. There is this train of thought among people I've met that it's very important to be seen no matter what but I do not believe in such things!!''
If there was something he'd like to change about the industry in India today, what is it, I muse? ''It would never work! How I see things… not everyone sees it that way. Assuming I say there should be more professionalism and models should be given basic rights, particularly male models, and work should be assigned to models according to their experience and capabilities. Instead of giving a bowl full of hot soup to a one year old baby and telling him 'don't spill it' or 'don't get burnt!' So, I may want to say this, if it's going to work.''
Given the lockdown and its effect on industries, would he want to remain in this profession or diversify to a safer job, I ask? And his answer pleases me. ''I am not going to panic and diversify. I am a model and actor
Danish has always been a stylish young man. What goes into his look, I ask as we end the interview. ''I like to wear what is most comfortable but it has to be stylish, not tacky. I'm into sports wear with a good pair of colourful shoes… nothing boring. I like to experiment with bright colors. If I'm heading somewhere where I can't wear fashionable tracks and jackets, I go for blue or black denim with a black or white t-shirt or shirt… or perhaps all- black,'' he grins. I wish him luck in his step, films.
— JASMEEN DUGAL