This 'legal eagle' is statuesque, intelligent and a head-turner on the catwalk and in campaigns. In conversation with lawyer- turned- model and actor Reena Barot.
''I was always attracted to show biz and I had immense love for theatre. As a student I used to take up modelling jobs; Lakshmi Rana and Padmalakshmi inspired me to live my dream of being a fashion model. As I started practicing law I got good modelling gigs on the side, and I couldn't resist following the dream.
Honestly, though, I always saw myself as a nerd and I hardly wore anything other than formal suits, which made me look intriguing, and then I met photographer Advait Vaidya who introduced me to a new me. I explored that facet of me and yes I do realise now that I am appealing. That said, competition is fierce. Show biz is a tough job; there is a lot of competition and heavy pressure to stay fit. I eat healthy, work out regularly i.e. yoga, running, swimming. I do not follow weight training though. I meditate. I eat small meals five times a day until 8 pm, lot of protein and fibre, lot of fluids, no sugar and I totally don't do junk food!
What is the best piece of career advice I have ever been given in the glamour industry? I remember Prasad Bidapa once told me that a model should develop their own unique style, best suitable for their personality; that keeps them above and apart from the others. Another good piece of advice — it's important whom you know and whom they know. Thirdly, they don't reject you at a casting; your personality just doesn't fit their requirement so don't get disheartened by any casting failures. The best nuggets of wisdom I ever received!
Speaking of memorable projects, I remember shooting with Siddharth Malhotra for Stardust magazines; it was my first shoot and it still feels like yesterday. I was overwhelmed to meet the jury of king fisher supermodels; my first reality television show, I was selected in my first casting and I won titles titles at two beauty pageants — it was a dream come true — I won there titles of Indian Princess — best body and Face Of India which is now associated with Dadasaheb Phalke International Awards. I was also chosen to represent India at Asia New Star Model Festival. My entire journey in the fashion industry is a success for me… the titles I won, all my prints, runways and videos… coming from a family with no glamour industry background and being a lawyer myself, it wasn't easy to find the right contacts and bag these assignments.
Having said that, the one downside is that this is the most sought after career for most youngsters, and with nepotism slowly moving into the fashion industry as well, it is ruining a lot of chances for deserving ones. I wish too that casting couches would no longer exist in an industry filled with such attractive faces and personalities. I doubt though!! And, yeah, the fetish for white skinned models. The idea of beauty is really very stereotype as is the myth that all female models and actors are dumb!! Having said that, I believe in keeping an open mind for my chosen profession.I feel delighted with modelling and acting projects and I love exploring challenging projects. I am slowly moving towards acting and I will be soon seen in a web-series though I cannot share information about it yet…''
— JASMEEN DUGAL