As the boom in upmarket menswear reaches a crescendo — the young men who wear high fashion on the catwalk and in campaigns are becoming personalities in their own rights. Yet, there isn't a handful who could aspire to be India's answer to supermodel David Gandy. Until Jitesh Thakur took the modelling industry by storm — with sheer hard work, focus and a frank, realist positive attitude. In conversation with Mr. Photogenic, Mr India World 2015.
''I have had a keen interest in modelling since my early teens. I grew up aspiring to be a model and was centre stage in all the fashion shows through college. Other than that, I had a balanced secure career ahead of me as an engineer but the monotonous routine was just not holding me there! I knew this profession was not what I was meant for!! I just could not visualise myself as a common man; I was passionate, confident and had self belief! I firmly believe that if you're focused — and most importantly — if you believe what you're doing is right, that is the most secure career for you!''
His self confidence and straightforwardness is admirable. ''As a model, I'm an overall package!! My body has been trained tough! I know for a fact that I'm charming and I carry a positive attitude. I'm not sure how better or worse I am as compared to the other boys but yeah I have a passion for modeling and that itself will take me miles! Hey I worked hard for Mr India World 2015 in terms of fitness. I prepared almost a year to get myself there!! I improved my skill set and worked hard on my body… just keeping the pageant in mind. And I changed my routine completely! I started getting up early and learnt mixed martial arts; it was challenging but I've transformed myself! I was in real estate and learnt to balance work and passion. Seriously I feel I'm more focused and poised for future endeavours today. Right after winning the title Mr. Photogenic, I quit my job and moved to the city of dream catchers and dream makers — Mumbai. It's the choices you make in life that determine your destiny and I made the right decision, I believe — in a very short span of time, precisely six months, I got opportunities to walk for India's most prestigious fashion weeks! I walked for Rohit Bal at Lakme Fashion Week and a few designers at Amazon India Fashion Week. I did the relaunch campaign for Study by Janak's which featured in Vogue, GQ and billboards across the country. I was approached by several agencies! Moreover, I've been signed by eight national and International brands so the work front is pretty rewarding! PS My biggest fastest reward has been all the mentions by Fashion gurus and bloggers who listed me as among India's Top 10 models which is overwhelming!!''
And then he gets serious. ''As they say, when you live for a strong purpose, hard work isn't an option; it's a necessity. I truly believe a healthy lifestyle which means eating right, regular exercises and a proper sleep cycle is what everybody should follow. I've been training in Mixed Martial Arts for sometime now but there is nothing in this world I love more than irons! Gym is the most important part of my day. My routine is planned prioritising my exercise schedule. I aspire to be like Jason Statham — I idolise him for his love for fitness, his extremely good MMA skills and of course his persona onscreen.'' As an intelligent young man and top model, what does he feel is lacking in the industry, I ask? ''My views may differ from the others but I believe we lack unity. We need that firmly in place, just like Bollywood works as a family! They work as a team and stand united and it's recognised as one of the world's biggest film industries! That kind of unity is what we need as models, model mentors or agencies!'' Impressive — and bang on. As we wrap up, he's visibly excited about upcoming projects. ''I'll be shooting summer collections for national and International brands like SBJ, Suitup.in, Nivedita Saboo Couture, to name a few. Next month, after I return from South Korea where I represent India at 'Face of Asia' contest, I'm doing a cameo for Balaji production's much talked about feature film ''XXX'' directed by Ken Ghosh. Then there are few fashion shows where you could see me 'ahem' tiger-walking. I call it TigerWalk instead of CatWalk!!''
Yeah, he's on a roll!
— JASMEEN DUGAL