With a clean-cut appearance and boyish charm, Sumit Nehra is best described as the boy-next-door young girls would be swooning over—few know he walked for Armani in Beijing! In conversation with the grounded young man who quit at the pinnacle of his career and shifted tracks to fashion photography.
He has no illusions about fame. "No one advised me to become a model. In fact I was a cricketer right from schooldays. In 2007 my friends who were auditioning for fashion week, dragged me there, and without any portfolio I got shortlisted in the final 20. So I thought to myself: why not give modeling a try and earn good money? I went to Mumbai and got a portfolio by Haider Khan and when I landed back in Delhi the following day I got a call from JJ Valaya!! He wanted me for his catalogue! That was the day I stepped into modeling and there has been no looking back" grins Sumeet who has to his credit campaigns with American Express, Arvind Mills, Adidas Neo Label, DLF Buildings, Yamaha and Guess.
Travel is a passion. "I've been lucky to have travelled to amazing places!! I had assignments in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Beijing, Dubai, China and Melbourne. I signed up with an agency in Romania that promotes models all over the world so whenever they get something suitable for me they send me a contract and tickets. There is not too much work overseas but whatever work is there, is huge! My friend Tony Luke did his Harley Davidson shoot in China and I did the Armani show in China. If I had not travelled I would never have had the opportunity to walk for Armani!!'' Pausing, I ask him to compare treatment of models overseas. "Overseas everyone stays like one family; they don't care which agency you represent, which country you come from or how big or small your portfolio is… they treat everyone in the same manner! Of course there are perks!! Models get VIP treatment in clubs and free drinks at times… sometimes you get paid to come enjoy the party!!'' Speculative about his career graph he sighs: "my advice for aspiring models is that if you have patience then come and enjoy this industry and do not listen to people who try to tell you it is impossible!! It is really easy to enter this field but tough to survive!''
So, why did he quit at the pinnacle of his career, I ask? ''When I was in Cape Town for shoots and shows, I met several photographer who are so good, they are like magicians! Observing them at work, I got interested in photography and decided to try my hand at it. I always sought advice from them on setting and post production, and once I became adept at it I went to Istanbul and shot catalogues. Agreed, it wasn't creative but it was a start! I shot in Beijing too and then back in India I met Kapil Gulati and started learning from him and assisting him! I absolutely love what I do now and I have already shot my friends' portraits. It's almost ten years since I have been modelling so now its time to think about a long-term career and make some money!''
— JASMEEN DUGAL