Ramp-to-Riches Story: How Models Got it Right in Bollywood

Aishwarya Rai & Sushmita Sen were among the earliest models to have a successful Bollywood career. Since them, in the last decade, names like Anushka Sharma, Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Rampal and John Abraham have made their entry into the A – list of Bollywood.

With so many models successfully making the switch, several models and aspiring actors are keen to take the plunge. So how did these models get it right?

A host of television commercials, print advertisement and runway models in the past left behind a career in the modelling industry, and picked Bollywood as their final destination. Zeenat Aman, Juhi Chawla, Jackie Shroff, and even Salman Khan tried their luck in Bollywood after being a part of beauty pageants and ad campaigns.

Having said that, several models tried their luck in Bollywood and sank without a trace, so it clearly indicates that the journey is not a smooth one. Models today are aware of this fact and are not just relying on winning a beauty pageant to enter films; they are not leaving any stone unturned to prove their mettle.

“Models can’t really act! They look great, but the moment they open their mouth, you want to run away,” said Deepika Padukone in a recent interview about a popular director who made this statement way back in 2008, when several models entered Bollywood.

However, things have change a lot since then.

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Actors Need to Match the Personality of the Characters

Nowadays, a person is cast only when a certain style or personality of their own self fits the character perfectly (that’s what the audience look for these days) along with good acting skills. Everything else is secondary.

There are no special advantages of being a model these days and that is the primary reason models are taking their preparations seriously. What works in the end is how you portray the character assigned, irrespective of whether the actor is a model or a fresher.

Besides a well maintained body and striking features, a model needs to work on their individual’s acting skills, dialogue delivery, personality in order to hope for audience acceptance. And very few are actually ready to work on their skills.

But well-prepared models, who fit into a character, definitely have an advantage as they are comfortable in front of the camera and have a good body language.

Preparation is the Key

These former models realized that in the long run, they cannot depend just on their looks and chose to focus on other aspects to achieve their goals. While not all of them started off by acing their acting skills, they did turn their limitations into their biggest assets.

“In my mind, I always knew where my priorities were. I wanted to get into modelling, but I knew that cinema was my final destination,” stated Padukone.

These former models enrolled for a variety of workshops, instead of just falling back on their good looks.

  • Deepika Padukone enrolled in Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares institute for a diploma course. Padukone had to work hard on her dialogue delivery (her voice was dubbed in Om Shanti Om)
  • Katrina Kaif trained rigorously to get her dance moves right for the popular dance number ‘Sheila ki jawaani’.
  • Kangana Ranaut took diction classes and underwent a scripting course in New York to enrich her knowledge as an actress
  • Nargis Fakhri says if a model aspires to become an actress, he/she needs to take some drama classes as well

Casting director Mukesh Chhabra says, “One must do some homework and give your best shot at the audition. Nobody in today’s day and age has the time to look at auditions of unprepared actors.”

Vikas Bahl, Director of Queen, says, “There is a lot of competition out there, and requirements for becoming a successful actor does not only include good looks. Lisa Haydon was already a big name in the modelling industry. But, she worked hard on her character.”

If you’re a model and an aspiring actor, you should be able to clearly see the writing on the wall – to survive in Bollywood, you need more than just good looks.

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