Getting scouted: My journey started from my college in Mumbai, where I was studying law. Modelling was not something that I planned to pursue, as I am an extremely shy person. At the same time, it was very exciting suddenly being scouted and asked to join Campus Princess. It was definitely an offer that I couldn’t pass up. This whole experience made me realise my love for facing the camera and that’s how my modelling career happened.
Fashion week: My first fashion week was a mixture of many emotions – mostly excitement, but I was also a little nervous and secretly hoping I don’t trip on the runway in those elaborate gowns and six-inch heels. It was absolutely amazing doing four to five shows a day throughout the week and walking for some of our country’s best designers. I was particularly thrilled to walk for Falguni & Shane Peacock, among the many other incredible designers, in my very first fashion week.
Shooting for Tanishq: This very special commercial was for Farah Khan Ali’s collection for Tanishq. We shot this at the charcoal project and the jewellery was exquisite. It was such a pleasure to work with this incredible team, especially Farah who was steering the entire shoot beautifully. She was such a delight to work with. We had Ami Patel as the stylist, so the outfits were breathtaking. We shot in beautiful lehengas and gowns with all these beautiful jewellery sets. It was a dream to be endorsing one of my favourite brands, Tanishq.
First international shoot: I was definitely overjoyed about this one – my first international assignment. I absolutely love travelling, so it was sort of like an all-paid-for vacation, as well, which definitely adds to the charm of already being in the profession you love. This shoot was in Thailand for an international clothing brand, so, it was in some way a little milestone to be doing my first shoot abroad.
Judging the GIA Indian Jeweller’s Awards: The GIA Indian Jeweller’s awards was another memorable experience. I was extremely grateful to have been invited as a judge, and it was an honour to be on their panel among such eminent personalities. I had the privilege of looking through the work of brilliant jewellers and craftsmen from all across India who had submitted to these awards.
Meeting Hrithik Roshan: This one is more of a personal milestone than professional, but definitely adding it on here. Meeting Hrithik Roshan was one of the most special encounters. He is so charming and brilliant, on and off screen. He’s been one of my most favourite actors for the longest time. So, although I would normally be more composed and restrained from such behaviour, I was just thrilled to see him. This was at a friend’s birthday. I remember taking a photo with him, I’ve still kept it, which is a subtle way of me saying I haven’t framed it in my room.
Interview with Femina: My first interview was with Femina when I had just started modelling and it was printed with the heading Raising The Bar. I remember rushing to get a copy of that magazine and looking through it for my interview. It was truly very special, as I was so new at that time. It felt exceptional to be noticed and interviewed by one of the most reputed magazines we have here in India.
My Joyalukkas campaign: Apart from Joyalukkas being such a prestigious jewellery brand, what was truly most exciting about this was it being released alongside their campaign with Kajol. I had shot my campaign with them separately and it released all over India on billboards and everywhere, but at the entrance of their stores were two of their latest campaigns – mine and Kajol’s. I loved her films and grew up watching them, so it was very special.
First magazine cover: I’m not going to elaborate much on this. It was definitely a milestone as a model. I remember getting the call for this cover and it was my first; I just went, yes! I don’t think I slept the night before this shoot and I counted down the days for the next issue so I could grab a copy.
Kaya campaign (2020 post lockdown): This is going to be the most memorable for life. Stepping out for the first time post the Covid-19 lockdown in Mumbai and going to a set with 50 people seemed like a huge event. The experience made us feel like we were shooting on Mars. Everyone was in their PPE suits, taking all precautions, maintaining a distance from each other, spraying sanitiser and wearing masks. I can’t remember if this was scary or just hilarious. Someone should have shot a behind-the-scenes. The shoot turned out beautifully and we were all so pleasantly surprised with how smoothly the day went by, despite the safety protocols. I felt very fortunate to resume work with a bang, starting with this new campaign for Kaya Skin Clinic. Overall, the journey has just begun. n Sasha Merchant is a model and actress.
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