All Eyes On ABDULLAH

Three reasons why Abdullah wouldn’t make a good model:[1.] he seems to be the product of non-indigenous genes. [2.] He has a laid back attitude towards PR in modeling. [3.] He sometimes deceives the viewer into thinking that he/she is looking at Farooq Mannan.

Firstly, If people cannot at some level relate to the face they see in the image, they will not buy into the fantasy of whatever he is so alluring advocating. Furthermore, shyly spurning diversification and trading fashion magazines and swanky celebrity soirées for textbooks and motorcycle joyrides is not the way to go about advancing a career hinged on media appearances and keeping up appearances. And finally, fashion is about change: people don’t want to see variations of the same face over and over again.

How is it, then, that Abdullah has become one of the highest paid male models in the country? See reasons [1.], [2.] and [3.].

The fact that this 21-year-old seems to be an import from a Guess? Jeans and has only added to the appeal of this unexpectedly homespun hunk. Fashion thrives on being one step ahead of the masses, and Abdullah’s exoticness, blooming from his freckled English-rose complexion, Californian-surfer bod, and Samarkand-prince bearing, has propelled it a leap forward instead. Secondly, his demure and hardworking nature has allowed him to make modeling work for him, instead of the other way round. In Abdullah there’s an honest absence of any lust for fame. What he covets is self-development {characterized by, among other things, a stern health regimen and a determination to successfully complete his bachelors degree amidst all the hoopla of stardom}, a quality that pleases both the gods of fate and the deities of style. Lastly, Abdullah’s visage is not a barefaced replica of the now low-profile Farooq Mannan’s, but rather a whiff of inspiration that only serves to intrigue. And in this idolatrous era of pop culture predominance, where many still identify the former advertiser’s-dream as their favourite male model, emulation is the best form of celebrity.

A question arises: Is Abdullah already a celebrity? Let’s see. In the tradition of our most envy-and lust-inspiring male beauty stars (Mikaal, Nomi, Nael), he already has the one-punch knockout of a moniker. It might not necessarily be among the first to roll off your( drooling!) tongue when asked to name famous male models, but there’s no doubt that you’ve seen the boy’s handsome face all around town. After hiring him for their second campaign in a row (a first is itself), retail empire Chen One deemed it fit to lavish the cities with his likeness. He has paraded clothes down ramps and flaunted them in glossies. Abdullah can also be seen romancing in newcomer Bilawal’s music video, Teray Bin. Unwittingly, he even managed to lure Lollywood to his doorstep( lest films be left behind!) but courting heroines was deferred in favour of courting a degree. He did take a break, however, for a quick jaunt in Dubai: he’d been nominated in the best male model category of the Lux Style Awards. Early indicators of star-in-the-making potential are good.

Thus, we have established that Abdullah is, after all, tailor-made to become a big name in modeling, and indeed, has a career that’s already being stitched in the mode of a superstar. And soon we learn that he is an only son among a teeming brood of four daughters. So surely that humble and soft-spoken treatment we get is a specially prepaid, for-journalists-only ruse designed to conceal a billboard-sized ego, right? Wrong! According to Khawar Riaz, Abdullah has such a gentle and retiring nature that along with his overall look, KR also had to groom his confidence. Even now, Abdullah shies away from large crowds, hence his aversion to pretentious showbiz bashes, and instead prefers to hone his language skills with a good book.

Other pastimes include cricket, which he doesn’t get to indulge in much anymore; heavy bikes, which his father won’t let him buy; and computer animation, which he hoped to make a career in before Khawar Riaz came calling. Or rather, a small-time photographer that Abdullah sometimes worked for came calling on KR.

The reason for the visit was this new boy that the photographer wanted to bring to KR’s attention. Slim, fair, and unassuming, the 19 year-old Syed Abdullah Ejaz was a far cry from the buff and branded Beckham-inspired rebel image that he currently inhabits. KR was unimpressed, and dismissed the Pathan-looking Punjabi AS “phheeka.” But then, like another King of yore, KR too had a dream: he realized that with the right ingredients, this bland dish could soon be selling like hotcakes. And so the beauty chef decided to tighten his primping apron, and get to work.

At first, Abdullah had reservations about KR’s decidedly un-Depilex style of grooming. If you’re a male model hopeful and you’ve been touched by the great KR, flaking pancake and crusting hair gel are the least of your concerns. No less overwhelming than the US Witness Protection Program, KR’s lifestyle remodeling regimen is not for the faint of heart. From carefully monitored meals (for Abdullah it’s a special Lebanese food diet) to daily workout sessions (the boy trains with a coach every morning at 8), you have to devote yourself body and soul to the cause. And while it’s all meant to turn your seemingly average street-side Romeo into the next Mr. Lawrencepur, to the uninitiated it can be a bit daunting. Fellow Ocular (that’s KR’s agency) model-member, Daniyal, remembers how apprehensive he was at first when he was thrust under the scorching sun to bake his light tan into a blazing Latino bronze. But it paid off: Daniyal’s KR-contrived Brazilian look helped him walk off with the best male model LSA this year.

Like everyone else, Abdullah too was soon won over by the latter-day Professor Higgins. And it’s not hard to see why. A tiny incident will help develop a clearer picture. While I was talking to the future face of Pierre Cardin (in Pakistan), KR interrupted to announce that it was Abdullah’s lunch time. So, Abdullah, ever the dutiful son figure, and I, ever the dutiful snooper, went downstairs. What I saw there was more surprising than Iraj’s recent haircut! The servant had been sent away on an errand, so KR was lovingly puttering about in the kitchen, preparing the male-model-of-the-moment’s special meal himself! The beauty chef had turned gourmet chef! And I have to admit, the result was delicious. Who knew KR could stir up minced meet as well as he stirred up the fashion industry!

It’s no wonder that with so much genuine care, Abdullah has become KR’s number one fan. After every snippet of conversation, he verbally touches home base with a grateful word for his mentor.

And now, two reasons why you may not see a lot of Abdullah in the future:(1.) he wants to travel more, and already has a trip to Egypt in the pipeline. (2.) He wants to pursue an MBA degree.

A whole bunch reasons that will cancel out the previous ones and result in your seeing a whole lot of Abdullah in the future: (1.) There seems to be no end in sight to his commercial, print, and runway assignments. ( Those last, incidentally, are what he loves the most.) (2.) Though ever the humble gentleman, he loves to connect with his fans. (3.) He wants to use his fame for more than just a choice designer shoot. He would love to work for some charitable cause. (4.) His grandmother (wife of Sheikh Riaz Ahmed) always dreamed of showbiz stardom for her grandson, and her prayers are with him. (5.) We love him!

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