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Spotlight: Tooba

Tooba is among the new breed of young models, actors, designers and stylists making a mark on the local fashion scene. She is, for now, better known for her lawn ad for a premium brand in which she swings to Nazia Hasan’s Boom Boom — a trifle bold by Pakistani standards. But then being touted as the next best thing in fashion after Iraj and Vinnie, Tooba seems to have a head start on things.

‘I think Iraj is the best ramp model and Vinnie is awesome in print. As far as commercials are concerned, I like the new faces. I think the veteran models are completely done with to come in ads now,’ says Tooba

I meet the stick-slim Tooba with her long wavy hair at her apartment. Dressed in jeans and T shirt, she is sprawled over the big, black leather sofa with her pack of cigarettes, ashtray and cell phone ringing occasionally. “I started modelling from Islamabad some five years ago. I was 18 at that time. My first play was for Sultana that was a Rana Sheikh project for PTV and since then there has never been no looking back. I went to the US briefly with my family, but I couldn’t cope up with the tough lifestyle so I came back to Karachi to continue with my modelling and acting assignments,” she says.

In a span of five years Tooba has become a known face. How is this possible in the glamsville today with treacherous cliques and mafias? Surely she must have someone’s support or backing? “It was Tariq (Amin) who introduced me to modelling. I have no qualms in admitting that. Since then, we have developed differences and don’t get along at all. But tell you what, this mafia grouping is more of a Lahori phenomenon. I like to work with everyone.”

While the opinion is rife that dime-a-dozen models are ready to do just about anything to get a small shoot or a ramp session, Tooba comments on the state of affairs quite diplomatically: “I admit that male models are exploited no end. They’re used as commodities more often than for modelling. Consider the fact that male models just get around Rs2,000 to 5,Rs000 for a ramp show. Sometimes they don’t even get that. Sadly that’s the way it is. And as for the female models, well if some of them resort to extending favours to clinch assignments, I suppose that reflects their need and desperation to get work.”

On a slight tangent Tooba adds: “All this talk about decent-girls-can’t-come-into-fashion is pure nonsense. Everyone is modelling these days. It’s very easy to become a model in Pakistan. Any good-looking girl walking down the street can call herself a model. And if girls can’t model for bold themes or think that the environment is sleazy, that’s their own inhibition.”

Tooba’s choice of the ideal local model varies. “We don’t have proper category models exclusively for ramps, print and commercials as such. But I think Iraj is the best ramp model and Vinnie is awesome in prints. As far as commercials are concerned, I like the new faces. I think the veteran models are completely done with to come in ads now.”

Overwhelmed with acting and modelling assignments these days, Tooba’s schedule for one assignment often overlaps with another. Is it wise to plunge headlong into work without a worry about the quality of output? “I know some of my directors are angry at me for doing too many things at a time. But my aim is to make my mark in the acting for now and then be able to choose the best assignments. I really want to make my mark as an actress,” she says, adding, “I don’t want to make tall claims but I think I have it in me to make it big in acting. I simply love it.”

She also has her focus set on Hollywood in the future. “What’s the harm in thinking big? If it’s not Hollywood I am definitely headed towards something in India.” And what is that ‘something’? She smiles, “Oh I can’t tell right now. It’s definitely something big.” This writer can only imagine how directors in Hollywood and Bollywood would treat Tooba for overlapping schedules.

“I am a typical Leo with a fluctuating temperament and a big ego problem. But I am overly generous with my friends. I love giving advice to friends, working non-stop on weekdays, partying out on Saturdays and lazing around on Sundays.

If I was born again I’d like to be part of some royal family as I simply love luxury.” The one thing she would like to see different in the fashion scene of Pakistan is the amount of money paid to ramp models. “The paltry sum of Rs8,000 to Rs10,000 per ramp session that we get is simply ludicrous. This pay scale has been the same for the past decade, I think,” Tooba says with one of her eyebrows raised dramatically.

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