Circa 1996. I was with agency Riccardo Gay Model Management in Milano, where the black books (portfolios in desi lingo) were being spun around on the revolving black table for a snap look. Long-haired, olive-skinned, I watched in slight alarm, and in complete shock as an apple-cheeked, stunning Czech model strode in on her long legs and disrobed completely in a few moments, folding her clothes and tucking them into her bag, on the chair. That’s it. She turned around starkers, and raised her brows at the photographer in the corner studio for further instructions for the shot.
Models are complete clothes hangers abroad, with the clothes they wear on and off the catwalk forming the focus. Not their vital statistics. Short for the ramp, at 5 ft 7 inches, and generously endowed, topless modelling was a logical progression for me if I persisted on Italian soil, I was told point blank — “Modelling is a very difficult profession. You must be strong and brave to become a model.”
I balked and retreated to home turf because my comfort level with nudity was missing, being born and brought up in a sheltered way in Lucknow. Perhaps things would have been different had I been raised there, and grown up with nudity as an acceptable way of life.
Acting workshops teach the same
Closer home, the #metoo movement aside, the methodology of coaching techniques in acting workshops has always brought in the buff to make students feel comfortable in their own skin. The aim is to make you shed self-doubts, inhibitions, apprehensions, hesitation. The thought process behind this is to self-energise and self-engage your faculties and capabilities. It makes you aware of your own physicality, as you are the centre of all attention. It teaches you to be in complete sync with your own self in front of crowds, even on the sets when you are shooting. This is not a new practice though it isn’t a coaching technique that is publicised in a foolhardy manner.
It makes me wonder where all the brouhaha over actor Ranveer Singh’s pictures is coming from. Of course, his pleasing Full Monty has netted in the eye-balls and brilliant chatter across Twitter, women’s groups, fan clubs et al. Ranveer Singh is a man of immense talent, that he has proved over and over again on screen. If he chooses to disrobe on camera and flaunt his chiselled body, the domain is entirely his. Not that he needs the paper money.
Having the confidence and alacrity to go buff is a very important part of the art of acting. In this case, it is a sinewy kick, considering Ranveer Singh wore next to nothing in some scenes in the movie Befikre and at that point, managed to evade the moral policing. Wonder why there’s a problem now.
When other posed too
There have been tonnes others earlier — John Abraham (New York), Ranbir Kapoor (Saawariya), Rahul Bose (Split Wide Open), Rahul Khanna (The Americans), Neil Nitin Mukesh (Jail) Rajkummar Rao (Shahid), Kalki Koechlin went bare for a photoshoot as did Milind Soman on a Goan beach to mark his 55th birthday in his birthday suit. Then there have been other skin encounters – Radhika Apte (I) lifting her clothes…
Coaching techniques in acting and your own submission to your craft make you take the plunge, readily. It is de rigueur abroad, forget actors, even the Las Vegas rager (remember images of Prince Harry cupping his crown jewels?) or Janet Jackson Nipplegate or Paris Hilton’s nip slips galore… the list is endless.
The bottom line is, we thrive on erotica, but secretly, and are unable to digest it when someone chooses to celebrate his or her own body fully. With the OTT whisking off the barriers, we’ve morphed into bottom feeders. It’s time we shed our double standards and appreciated the aesthetics of acting, accepting it for the art it truly is.
Having the confidence and alacrity to go buff is a very important part of the art of acting. Ranveer Singh wore next to nothing in some scenes in the movie Befikre and at that point, managed to evade the moral policing. Wonder why there’s a problem now.
Shilpi Madan for Deccan Chronicle