Modelling Her Way Up - Shubra Aiyappa

A holder of the Ford Supermodel title, Shubra Aiyappa was only 15 when she started modelling. She has walked for several pageants in India and abroad, and appeared in numerous television commercials, gaining prominence after one particular jewellery campaign. We caught up with her to find out what she’s been up to lately.

Tell us about your current projects?
I’m working on a Kannada film with Simple Suni; the film is called John Cena. I’m playing a very different character in this one, one that requires a lot of preparation. It’s very different from what I’ve done so far. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much about it at this point.

I’m working on my dialect right now because this will be the first film I’ll be giving my own voice to a film. I’m really excited to be working with Simple Suni; he’s currently one of the top three directors. The film is slated for release in May or June.

How did you get involved with acting?
I have been modelling since I was 15. I won the Ford Supermodel contest in India when I was just 16. I then went to New York and modelled there for a year. I’ve worked in most of the fashion shows in India, and I’ve also done many television commercials and ad campaigns for jewellery and clothing stores. I was happy doing my runway and ad campaigns, until I got a call from a production house after they had seen my campaign for Joy Alukkas.  

Modelling and acting was always a profession I wanted to get into. In fact, when I was asked in the second grade about what I wanted to become when I grew up, I replied “Miss Universe and actress”.
Your ambition was to become

Miss Universe, but you never gave it a try. Why not?
I believe Ford Supermodel is way bigger than Miss India. It happens only once in eight or nine years, and the last time it happened Bipasha Basu was the winner. It’s more fashion-focused than other pageants. So after winning that, I never wanted to try for Miss India. Had that not happened, I definitely would’ve given it a shot. Yes, Miss India would’ve taken me to the next level where my career is concerned, but I was very content holding the Ford Supermodel title.

Miss India might have been a doorway to the film industry and perhaps Bollywood too, don’t you think?
Bollywood is definitely my next step. I’m currently living in Mumbai, and I have an agency that’s on the lookout for opportunities for me too. I’m doing a Kannada film now, but at the same time I’m focusing on my dancing, Hindi diction, etc.

Yes, Miss India would’ve made it a little easier for me to get into Bollywood, but in today’s day and age it doesn’t matter who you are. You have to give the same audition and prove your mettle. So it’s a very fair space, and very difficult nonetheless.

Hailing from Bengaluru, it must be fairly easy for you to get the Kannada language.
I studied in a convent and we only spoke in English there; we were reprimanded if we spoke in any other language. And I was one of those who always thought it was cool to speak only in English. But looking back at that now, I feel I was so silly because now I’m spending so much money to get my language and dialect right, even though it’s my mother tongue!

Is the Kannada film industry different from the Telugu industry?
I would’ve said yes a few years ago when the Kannada industry was not on par with Telugu. Even now, Telugu movies are grander because there’s so much more money that goes into the making of a Telugu movie, but the Kannada industry is making really good films now. I know of a lot of Telugu actors who’re curious about Kannada films, and in fact a lot of Kannada films are being remade in Telugu nowadays. The films are intelligent now.

If not an actor, what would you see yourself as?
I always say that once I’m done with everything in the film industry, I want to do something in yoga. I do a lot of yoga and in fact I come from a family for whom fitness is very important. We’ve always watched what we ate simply because we believe in living a healthy lifestyle. If you come to my house you’ll see that we have six types of fresh juices every single day, ever since our childhood. We believe in putting healthy and good stuff into our body. So this is the plan when I’m done with acting (whenever that is!).

What is your fitness mantra?
I love eating, and although I’m mostly eating healthy food I have my cheat days every now and then when I eat everything I desire. But I workout religiously; I do yoga, dance, swimming, etc.

What are your other interests?
I enjoy reading. I used to be a voracious reader, but TV shows have taken my attention now. I’m glued to Suits now. My all-time favourite show is Curb Your Enthusiasm. Not too many people know about it; it’s from the makers of Seinfeld. Apart from this I love travelling. I’ve always wanted to make a lot of money and travel the world.

What genre of film do you want to work in next?
Action! I workout so much that I can definitely see myself kicking some ass (laughs)!      ----  as told to Niharika