Model, actor and Mr. India World Taher Ali is living the dream. After representing the nation at Mr. World 2012, he diversified into films and is in the headlines for web-series "Bombers" based on a football team fighting for survival. In conversation with him.
"While growing up I was ugly and dark… at least that is what I was led to believe by society and the kids I used to play with but I don't blame them because we as Indians promote racism so kids are being brought up like that. I come from small town Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh where a broad mindset is a task." And then he gets serious. "When I shifted to Mumbai to pursue modeling, a lot of people shared advice. I'm going to share the advice that triggered me. Someone told me, "Tujhse nahi hoga; tu apna time waste mat kar aur nikal yaahan se! Yeh tere bas ki baat nahi hai." I felt scared but after some reflection, I transformed myself!"
His confidence and straightforwardness is admirable. "Modeling is the best thing that happened to me and I'm glad I got an opportunity to represent India at Mr. World 2012 — it's one of the best things that happened to me and am grateful to Times Group for believing in me. The experience was enriching, empowering and I have memories to cherish for a lifetime. Since, I have diversified into films! I absolutely love modeling, pageantry and films and go from one to the other with ease and joy! I am proud how the modeling and film industries have evolved over time. Audience mindset is changing; where once they liked heroes to be well built, tall, fair and handsome now they have accepted unconventional main leads such as Nawazuddin Siddiqui. There is no stereotypical image anymore!! On a personal level, people often ask if acting was a natural progression from modeling and pageantry but honestly, my mom is a single parent who supported me in my decisions. It's my mom's dream to see me become a superstar on the big screen and I'm doing everything I can to make that happen. Speaking of work, I used to think I should take on select projects and not do everything that comes my way, but now I say 'Yes' to a lot of work because being busy is a blessing in this industry; if you're out of sight you're out of mind no matter how good you are! It's best to work and be noticed, be seen; for actors and models that's the only way to market yourself without marketing yourself." [grinning].
How does he keep fit given he has so much on his plate, I ask? "Though I stopped going to the gym I work hard on maintaining myself. I have started running and do floor exercises in the park. In fact, every alternate day I run 13 km in an hour and the next day I follow it up with floor workouts at home or in the park. Diet is mostly home cooked meals; I avoid rice and chapatti. I am on a plant based diet supplemented with essential vitamins like Vitamin-C, B-12, D-3, E, multivitamins, Omega-3 and Glucosamine because I run a lot. I think my personal style too has evolved. When I entered the industry, I groomed myself and figured what I like and what suits me. I experimented with different hairstyles and settled on one which shows more of my face [grins]. Initially my clothing used to be vibrant but now I prefer solid British colours which I accessorise with something sleek."
Looking at the future post- pandemic and lockdown, what does he have in mind? "Nobody is prepared for this so let's take it one day at a time. It's a good idea to keep oneself motivated instead of panicking. There are few projects that are interesting and I'm really excited for them to go on the floor as soon as possible. I won't let Corona win over my dreams!"
— JASMEEN DUGAL