Sikh News And Now. Sikh Models


Jun 1, 2004
And now... Sikh models M. R. N. Khosla
Aren't models supposed to be gel-haired, clean-shaven, lean and mean machines? Not if a young Sikh has his way...


Mr Gurmeet Singh One moment you may see him posing with a health drink. The next he's signing a mega contract for a new motorbike launch that will have his visage splashed on television and in magazines across the country.
Say hello to the new supermodel with a turban, beard, brawn and a personality to match. But aren't models supposed to be gel-haired, clean-shaven, lean and mean machines?
Yes, they are. But if a young man has his way, all that will soon change. Meet 23-year-old Gurmeet Singh, who has set up an exclusive modelling school for Sikh youth, `Launchers: The Modelers' in Delhi.
"Sikhs are an important part of Indian society, yet no one is thinking of representing them on the modelling scene," says Gurmeet, who is determined to correct this anomaly.
It is not surprising that the innovative idea has met with great success and his new agency is being flooded with demand from ad filmmakers, even as wannabe models from the Sikh community line up for a fee of Rs 25,000 a week.
This agency is not the result of a brainwave. The seed of the idea was sown out of a feeling of frustration and rejection. A couple of years ago, Gurmeet, who wanted to make it big in the modelling world, was rejected by many agencies because he was a Sikh. "One ad-man even suggested that if I wanted to become a model, I should first cut off my hair and beard," says the model-turned-entrepreneur. That's when his mind started ticking.
The big challenge

Instead of despairing and going back to his family business of construction, Gurmeet took it upon himself to challenge the mindset of modelling agencies rather than becoming a model himself, so that he could launch other Sikhs into modelling.
As a first step, he took up a job of an assistant model coordinator in a modelling agency at a salary of Rs 2,200. "The money wasn't important. I wanted to learn the ropes of the trade. Till then I had no clue how things functioned in the glamour world. This job gave me a hands-on experience which I couldn't have got otherwise," he says.


He quit after a year and went about setting up the school that would groom Sikh youth and give them a platform to launch themselves in the world of modelling. He admits that initially people were sceptical about the innovative idea, but "I knew it would click from the word go". Though, as he admits, he wasn't prepared for the kind of response to the first advertisement he placed. "Our office was flooded with applications and the phone hasn't stopped ringing. We never quite expected such a phenomenal response," says Gurmeet.
"It was a real tough task selecting 20 people from the innumerable applicants. Such was the dedication that when I rejected some for being overweight, they came back a month later after having shed the extra kilos."
Gurmeet managed to get professionals like ramp-trainer Udayan Rathore, fashion photographer Rahul Dutta, yoga instructor Milan Mandal and a dance group, Dynamites, to train his young brigade.
"Being a Sikh myself, I knew that young Sikhs have everything in them but what they probably lacked in modelling was confidence. Once they overcame that they could take on the world," he says.
The grooming process

The module, designed by Gurmeet himself, was entirely different from what others were offering. The first batch of 20 was taken to a s{censored} farmhouse in Gurgaon near Delhi. At 5.30 in the morning, they would be driven to the nearby Hotel Radission. "A five-star hotel was purposefully selected as its ambience would help boost the confidence of the guys," says Gurmeet.
These young Sikhs went through rigorous sessions at the gym followed by yoga and a refreshing swim at the hotel. Then came the actual training. The batch was taught the correct way to walk on the ramp, strike the right poses in front of the camera and to give the right face-profiles while on a photo shoot.
In the evening, there were dance lessons to make their bodies flexible. Finally came the most exciting part of the training — time out at the hotel's discotheque. "In their third trip to the disco, they were a transformed lot. The very same boys who were shy of even introducing themselves were inviting strangers to dance with them," says Gurmeet.
This newfound confidence has stood the first batch in good stead. These young newly minted Sikh models have already done a fashion show for the National Institute of Fashion Design, have got a prestigious campaign for BSNL Telecom Services and one of them has bagged a meaty cameo in producer Vashu Bhagnani's forthcoming film, Out Of Control.
"There are other projects in the pipeline. But I am in no hurry to sign up any project that comes our way. I want them to be projected in a sophisticated manner that goes with their image," says Gurmeet, who is planning to do a show with designers like Sabina Khan, Akki Narula and Amarjot Singh shortly.
What next? "I want to take these models to the zenith of the glamour world and make them as popular as say Milind Soman, Arjun Rampal and Dino Morea," he says.