You started off by modeling for Nabila, and then transitioned to Khawar Riaz. How did that come about?
I stepped into the limelight of fashion about five years back when a friend took me to Creative Services and I started doing shows with Frieha Altaf. I met Khawar Riaz at the first Lux Style Awards ceremony, and he invited me to Lahore. At the time I did only one shoot with him, and then left the scene for about two years. When I returned, I joined Khawar immediately. And to date, Iím with him.
Why the two year hiatus?
Well, partially because I had to complete my MBA.
So what finally triggered your reentry into the fashion scene?
Khawar Riaz persuaded me to come back and completely transformed my image. And thatís when my career got an explosive boost.
Khawar Riaz is the most controversial photographer around. Does that ever make you feel uncomfortable?
Oh please! Thatís just propagandist garbage used to sell magazines! I admit I did have a few inhibitions initially, but it took just one visit to lay bare all the false claims made by these publications. Anyway, people have a tendency to overreact whenever they see something that doesnít strictly conform to the norms of society. But Iím mature enough to take such things in stride.
Will you diversify your horizons and work with other photographers?
No, I would never jeopardize my loyalty to Khawar Riaz. I donít want to lose the comfort level that I share with him. Heís responsible for my comeback, and I wouldnít dream of cutting him off just because Iíve been successful. And thatís how things will stay.
Iíve heard that you have a very aggressive attitude on sets. How do you deal with that?
Thatís a strange question! I admit I donít have the patience of a saint, and tend to lose my temper easily; and there have been times when Iíve come close to losing it. But I know my limits. I suppose I might not have been the easiest of people to work with in the beginning, but Iíve mellowed down now.
Modeling ranks pretty low on your list of priorities, and yet you stick to it. How come?
I stick to it for one simple reason: this is something people value. I model because I make money out of it; I model because it has allowed me to gain respect and recognition; and I model because people appreciate it.
Being the highest paid ramp model must give you a high.
I donít let myself get carried away by such peripheral matters. Itís all a fantasy anyway. The fact that I get more respect and it has allowed me to build up my self-confidence is what counts for me.
Modeling is a field that carries a lot of perks, but what do you think are some of its disadvantages?
Well, for one thing, the field lacks professionalism. But I think the worst part of it is all the controversies that hound you Ė sometimes even before youíve stepped into the field. Another important disadvantage is that a male modelís pay is in an entirely different league from a female modelís. Even an ordinary girl makes more than a top male model despite the fact that they play an integral part in fashion.
Why do you think that is so?
The society we live in might be dominated by men, but women are ruling the field of fashion. And then there are certain sick elements in the industry that exploit male models for their personal desires, leaving professionalism in the dust.
Have you ever been a target?
No! Thanks to the Almighty, I always keep a distance, do my work and go back.
Despite having a very strong (read the best) portfolio and being popular in Karachi you couldnít pick up the LSA for the second time. Why do you think that was?
It wasnít my time. The majority of the judges werenít in favour of me. And anyway, I think Abdullah was more deserving.
Even Abdullah was passed over. Do you think itís because the LSA process is flawed?
I would have to agree. I think the LSA is pulled in different directions by a number of opposing factions, and as a result, the awards end up in the wrong hands.
Which of your campaigns has been your favourite? Or which do you think got you the most hype?
I have done a number of different campaigns, but I think the one I did for Amir Adnan stood out from the rest. Then there was a campaign for a local jeans brand that was published in Diva which people really appreciated. But I have always tried to do my best in every assignment that Iím given.
Which of your colleagues do you most enjoy working with?
I would say Nooray. Every other shoot I do is with her. The thing I like about Nooray is that she doesnít let misunderstandings ruin the comfort level between us. And that comfortable rapport comes across in our onscreen chemistry.
And among choreographers?
Frieha Altaf, any day any time. She is the most amazing, most professional and the most powerful woman in showbiz.
Who is your style icon?
Bibi! She is someone anyone would idealize. She was the most glamorous woman in the local fashion world and is still as stunning as ever. Among the males my vote would go to Farooq Mannan.
Mikaal and Nomi tried their hand at acting. Will you follow in their footsteps?
Acting is not my cup of tea! I once dipped my toes in the acting pool but it wasnít a great experience, and so I put it aside.
Which designerís clothes do you like the best?
Deepak Perwaniís. He has the best collections around. His creativity and imagination are endless. He has all the talent to go global.
Now how about the personal front? Tell us a bit about your love life.
Iím not one of those people who would renounce everything for a single person. That may sound unromantic, but I donít think such grand passions exist nowadays. Itís a highly touted yet little present notion in this day and age.
Does that mean you are not seeing anyone?
No...I mean yes, I am seeing someone Ė but itís not love.
So shall we expect a wedding sometime soon?
After achieving all my goals, when I find myself in a stable position, Iíll get married.
Whatís your idea of a perfect date?
Being on a deserted island with no one else within a radius of 10km. I can be romantic too.
What attracts you in a girl: face, figure, or character?
Women with a sound personality melded with a priceless personal empowerment and a smooth figure can always make me go weak in the knees. Yet I donít think Iím attractive enough for themÖ
But you are very lucky in the sense that girls chase you rather than vice versa.
HmmmÖyes, they do chase me but I simply ignore them if Iím not interested.
Whatís the craziest thing a fan has ever done for you?
I once received a letter written in blood which I found really disgusting. Iím sorry but such things donít impress me.
Have you ever developed feelings for your costars while working with them?
Iíve yet to work with a person who could make me feel something. Waisay bhi youíre working in front of so many people that itís better not to feel anything.
So what does it take to become a supermodel?
A photogenic face, an attractive or well cut body, a sound personality and some guts; and as for the expressions, they come along with your personality. And there you have a super model.
Does socializing play a part?
It does but Iíve never done that. I just do my job and go home. Iím not the party sort, but Iíve still managed to establish my name on my own basis. As Iíve said it just needs some guts.
What did you think of Vinnyís recent lawn enterprise?
That was a bold step. I really appreciate her for what sheís doing. When you have such a big name, why not cash in on it? I think every model ought to follow in her footsteps, but then everyone doesnít have the ability to do so.
Tell me something about your educational, family, and professional background.
I come from a true blue Pathan family whose roots stem from Buner, my native land. Iíve been in the hustle and bustle of Karachi for quite a while now. Iím the youngest in the family. After completing my Bachelors in Commerce I did my MBA. I also tried CA but that was a bit too much for me. Nowadays Iím working with PSO as a Coordination Executive.
Isnít it difficult for an on duty officer to cope with a time-consuming activity like modeling?
Oh yes, definitely. To avoid the hassle I only take on assignments over the weekends. And those who want to work with me set their schedule according to my timetable.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I have big plans for the future. Iíll be an entrepreneur (Inshallah) running my very own outsourcing company providing services to bigger organizations like the one where Iím currently working.
But will you still be modeling?
Modeling is something that is bound to die out after a while. You canít expect to remain a supermodel for years on end. Iíll quit modeling then, but of course my friendships among the modeling fraternity will stay the same.
What are your other fields of interest?
Iím passionate about sports and reading. Iím a complete football maniac. Itís my dream to lead a European football league one day. I also love to eat, particularly continental cuisine.
You must exercise a lot to stay in such good shape.
Exercising is a part of the daily routine. I exercise to ensure that I remain fit. Iíve been exercising for the past 12 years, though not continuously. I was once awarded the provincial karate championship title. Iíve also competed in championships at the national level, but unfortunately I couldnít win any.
What can you not stand?
People who are pretentious and talk a lot Ė you know, who are very fake and plastic.
Karachi or Lahore and why?
Thereís no comparison between the two. Karachi is worth two of Lahore for the diversity and acceptance it houses.