24-year-old Manila Pradhan from Namchi, South Sikkim has been selected as one of the 10 contestants vying for the title of MTV Supermodel of the Year, a modelling competition launched by the channel.
After successfully graduating with a degree in Pharmacy, she took up a course in acting and theatre in Mumbai, where she wasn’t aware that she would step onto a stage as huge as this and become another icon from Sikkim who would be on national television. She auditioned for the show thrice, coaxed by her friends before she got the final call that confirmed her arrival at the location of shooting eight and a half hours before it started.
She quips at the suddenness of it all – “you just don’t know where you are gonna end up in life!”
She reflects on the people she has met in the course of shooting the show.
“All the girls are so beautiful and talented; some are even established models and they’re all diverse, from different parts of India. This show is about how beauty starts where perfection ends.”
Although her knowledge that she wasn’t a professional model could have left her under-confident, she says that she wasn’t intimidated by anyone.“I got along with everyone on the show – it was a beautiful experience. I cherish the memories made and the people I met.”
Like every other person on the planet, Manila has her own set of insecurities to deal with.“Many of us believe that good looking people (whatever one’s version of that is) always have things easy. Not many understand that they’re as human as we are – celebrities, models, TV personalities – the world of glamour comes at the price of hard work and nerves of steel.”
Previously, her confidence took a blow after having applied for Femina Miss India Northeast and being rejected because of her height. Prior to that, she wanted to pursue fashion designing but her parents refused to let her study it.
“It was difficult to convince my parents and took a year and a half to get their support. Up until I began acting and modelling, I never really got the chance to come out of my shell. I always wondered, will it work or not? Even when I was studying Pharmacy, I was sceptical and confused.”
Sikkim’s fashion industry is rising steadily and she believes that Sikkim is a fashionable state and is looked upon positively by people from outside it. In terms of people steering away from conventional career and lifestyle choices, she says- “I think society is changing. Before it was always about studying but not so much now. Still, the overall scenario will only improve if people are accepting of change. One has to be sure of what one wants in life.”
Apart from modelling, she wants to continue with learning more about theatre, since taking that up was a leap of faith for her.
“You know, I had really wanted to do that, so I did it. I mean, if not now, then when? Failure is everywhere but you can only feel good about failing when you know you have at least tried your best.”
The show airs on MTV and on Voot, starting from the 22 December.