Kolkata is a city that is known for many things but often people seem to ask if there’s any fashionable side to the city of joy. Well, there absolutely is a thriving fashion industry buzzing in Kolkata and a good number of models and actors from the city have become household names in tv soaps, advertisements and even movies.
But isn’t it quite something to remain flawless and good-looking 24×7 both on-screen and off? How do these models maintain that aura of glamour and yet seem to be living the mango life just like everyone else?
To decipher the mystery about models and their lives, team Beacon Kolkata caught up with Kolkata’s favourite and most loved model— Shabbir Beig.
When and how did you start your career in the fashion industry?
I started back in 2008 and since then, there’s been no looking back. Well, it wasn’t planned at all; I simply participated in fashion modelling contests in college fests and I got offers after that. And the rest is history.
How would you describe the modelling scene in Kolkata back when you had started your career?
When I was new in this field, there wasn’t much competition— especially there were only a few handful models in Kolkata. The craze for modelling, in Kolkata, started roughly around the year 2011 and people have been taking to social media to promote themselves.
What was your family’s reaction when you told them that you want to pursue a career in fashion modelling?
Don’t ask! There was a lot of drama at home and it was quite a ruckus to be honest. They wouldn’t permit me to do it, I’d to do it in a very clandestine manner.
Even to this date my mother doesn’t know that I am a model!
What or how has there been a sudden buzz in taking up modelling as a full fledged career among Kolkattans?
Well, I would say three things— firstly brands have become more conscious about having a great and flawless face representing their products. Secondly being good looking and fit has become easier and almost every model makes sure they are fit and fine body wise. Lastly, I’d say social media has played a major role in creating the buzz and also helping everyone who wants to be a model become one.
Extending on the aspect of social media; would you say it has diluted or disrupted the modelling market in Kolkata per se?
Yes, to a certain extent it has certainly diluted the quality of models in this line of work. Thanks to social media, anybody popular on these platforms has the so called freedom to become a self-proclaimed designer or stylist or even a model. If you enquire deeper into these social media models, you’ll see that their height is not even 5’11. But there’s a disadvantage of approaching your modelling career through social media— as in established designers do not prefer hiring through Facebook and other social media; these social media models do not last in the long run.
What would be your advice to someone aspiring to be a full-time professional model?
First and foremost, complete your education in whatever field you want because that remains your back up if things do not work out. And then don’t simply depend on earning from modelling in your initial days, get a job or if you have a family business get involved with that. Being a model is quite a high maintenance in itself so you have to have an alternative at all times. Focus on fitness at all times no matter what. Have an attitude but show it on the ramp or in front of the camera, not to your peers.
A lot of people are under the impression that going to Mumbai is a must if they are thinking about modelling as a career, do you think that it is necessary?
Absolutely not, you can work and establish yourself no matter which state you are in— there is work for models everywhere. Mumbai should be the next step in your career when you’re very serious about taking it further having set a firm groundwork in your home city.
What would you have to say about the wave of almost any other person turning into a ‘Fashion Designer’ these days?
Haha! No Comments on that one :p
Lastly, a very personal question— What’s next for Shabbir Beig in Kolkata?
Umm… I really wouldn’t want to divulge but then again how much longer will I keep it a secret— I have been offered feature films and a great deal of effort has gone into the process. But then don’t expect it to be out soon as I am not being able to give it much time due to other commitments.