Fashion marketing campaigns of top-notch companies like Flipkart, Myntra, Amazon and Lenskart not only tend to be creative but models appearing in these advertisements need to look cool. One such face that has made its mark in the fashion industry is Saqib Wani who hails from a remote place of Jammu and Kashmir.
Saqib, 25, from Handwara town of north Kashmir's Kupwara district, after completing his higher secondary went to Bangalore to pursue B.Sc Medical Lab Technology in 2016.
“I was interested in science so I opted for MLT. My parents supported my decision to study outside so I went ahead with my plans.”
During his course, everybody was flattered by his looks and style.
When Saqib was a teenager, he was fond of clicking pictures and grooming himself.
"I would always love to dress up and go out and click pictures but then it was confined to photo shoots only since I belonged to a conservative family and taking up modelling was nowhere in my mind."
In college, his friends would insist that he try his luck in modelling.
"I knew I had the calibre and good looks but when my friends said the same I got encouraged and began taking baby steps."
Having some choreographer friends in Bangalore, he was suggested to work on his physique first. "They told me you have to struggle a lot and nothing is going to come easy."
"I would chase casting agencies on social media as I didn't know anyone who would help me out. So, it happened that I got to know about a fashion show called a Tumkur fashion show."
When Saqib got in touch with this agency they asked for his portfolio but since he didn't have one they asked him to send his regular pictures.
"Though I was selected for this fashion show, I was not paid anything. For the next six months, I worked with several agencies but none paid me as I was still not a professional."
After these six months, Saqib was able to develop a good network. Meanwhile he worked on his portfolio and worked upon his body as well.
"After my portfolio was done, though it still wasn't that strong, I would mail 20 to 30 agencies every day to get work."
This struggle lasted for a year, till Saqib got a break in a Kannada serial, he did two of its episodes as a role of a foreigner.
After this, Saqib worked again as a junior artist for KGF Chapter 1 - a South Indian movie.
To make the network stronger in order to find good assignments, Saqib worked in various Tamilian movies. However, till now he wasn't able to get any modelling assignment.
"It isn't that easy as it appears, you have to be ready for the rejections, failures and disappointments. If you fret, you can't go ahead. You need to set your aspirations high then only you can survive in this field."
After his consistent efforts, finally in 2017, he modelled for a clothing brand and did two shoots with them.
Mr Bangalore contest was going to happen in Bangalore in the same year, a friend informed him about the same and he got himself registered.
"A person was supposed to pay grooming charges for participating in this contest but since I was selected in the first round only, I had to pay nothing."
Saqib says this was a turning point of his career for not only he won the Mr Bangalore title but got him a lot of modelling assignments afterwards.
"Big break was modeling for a clothing brand Capolavora, Dubai. After this there was no looking back. I would change my portfolio every week now."
Recently, Saqib just completed his ad shoot with famous actress Tamana Bhatia.
"I am really enjoying this whole experience, the last few years have been amazing for me and I am finally doing something I always wanted to do."
Saqib has worked in various fields of modelling and is more into promotional modelling, tv ads and catalogue shoots
Outside his profession, Saqib's interests lie in physical fitness, exercising, cricket, exploring new places and things and volunteering.
On weekends when he is usually free he loves to focus on his hobbies.
"I am passionate about modelling, acting, fitness and mostly helping others and learning more about medicine as I am a medical lab professional too."
Saqib says he is more confident now and gets better with every passing day.
A tough part of Saqib's life has been revealing to his family about his modelling career.
"Since my family is very conservative so it took me two years to muster the courage to tell them that I'm into modelling. Basically it was through one of my relatives that my family got to know about my modelling career."
Saqib says for his family his studies meant everything. “They wanted me to complete my studies and get a good job to earn a good living. But my goal was to make a place for myself."
Since by now Saqib was an established name it didn't take him much to convince his father.
"I remember my father telling me do whatever you want to do but make your studies the priority. And I did that with all my dedication, I passed the exams with first grade and right now I'm also working in a hospital as a technician."
Saqib has big plans and believes in achieving things at his own pace.
"My next destination is Mumbai, I have established contacts over there and soon I will be heading out. I'm in touch with agencies and I am all set to go for acting. I'm hopeful and confident that I will get a good break."
In the lockdown, Saqib has been doing online shoots and work never stopped for him. Not only has he carved a niche for himself but has also become a source of inspiration for other people interested in modelling.
"Whoever comes to me for seeking guidance I support him and put him across my network"
Saqib aspires to become a youth icon and wants to put his best foot forward in all his endeavours.
Right now Saqib is working on a number of projects.
"I've a few projects coming up but as a matter of confidentiality I’m not allowed to reveal anything about it."
Saqib wishes everyone to take up a job which one is interested in.
"You should pursue your dreams even if it takes huge efforts. Focus should be just pursuing your dreams."