Hair and Makeup: Saima’s
Kurtis: Umer Butt
Photography: Zahid Ghauri
Name: Sunita Marshal
Age: 23 Years
Claim to fame: Super model
Five year Plan: Sustain the supermodel persona and a Post-Graduate degree, possibly in advertising.
Ten Year Plan: A certain marriage to be followed by motherhood.
Some people in life are go-getters, leaving nothing to chance; they bend all rules to get whatever they want. Then there are the not-so-ambitious ones. This breed too aspires for the good things in life but their burning desire never seeps through their skin. Sunita Marshal belongs to the latter category. To be associated with the razzmatazz was hardly a childhood obsession for Sunita but even then today she shares the much-coveted slot of a super model with her veteran contemporaries. Her journey to the top was steep but Lady luck was on her side, for she’s not just got the look but also a heart of gold.
Despite being a leading figure of our fashion industry and doing of note work in 2003 you have not been nominated for the Lux Style Awards. Did it hurt not being acknowledged?
People dubbed LSA the Pakistan Oscars when they began two years ago. But ever since then, their credibility has gone down. Nobody knows for sure the criterion for nomination, not even the judges, I think (laughs). Somebody told me that nomination is on the basis of whoever sends their portfolio. So both times I worked hard on my portfolio but what’s the end result, nothing. So I reckon next year perhaps I won’t send mine. I won’t take names but a female model who didn’t do much work last year and was mostly abroad was nominated. On what grounds may I ask the judges? As for my work being not acknowledged is concerned. I admit that it did get to me the first time because last year I did a couple of good shoots then ‘Preeto’s video was a hit. But I didn’t let my deliberate omission this year bother me this time around. Transparency is vital when it comes to judging work in any industry unfortunately that is missing here. Like if you check the categories, they are too selective.
So basically your contention is that the organizers’ approach is anything but professional but the same complaints creep up when it comes to modeling. Payments are rarely made on time, often models work for free, and photographers chase the designers with their bills. Then drinking and doping also goes on here rather openly. How do you take it all?
Things have really changed over the past few years. Then a lot depends on how you conduct yourself. I take modeling as my career, like a nine to five job. It’s not an outlet to expose myself or to develop contacts or look for acceptance into a certain group by indulging in drinking or doping. I come, do my work and leave, that’s the end. It would be a lie if I declare unscrupulous activities not taking place because they do but people need to realize that not everybody is like that. It’s all matter of personal choice. Modeling is not accepted as a line of work by the society even today. People are very judgmental about models, I mean so what if she wears revealing clothes, doesn’t mean she’s a bad human.
So was there hesitation from your family before you forayed into modeling?
Of course, my family is a part of this society too. Especially my brothers had reservations about the field but with time I have changed their approach towards the modeling line. Now they are really proud of what I do and the status that I have achieved. In the beginning, my mother used to accompany me to shoots just to see the atmosphere and the crowd that I would be mingling with. During the initial time she was very supportive of my decision to become a model, if it hadn’t been for her, I wouldn’t have been here. Now my family has shifted to the UK and I live with my brother but even then I continue to model because I have gained their trust and wouldn’t let them down, no matter what.
So when you browse through a magazine and spot yourself there, how does it feel, proud or embarrassed?
Often I end up being critical of my work. However, I thank God that he has bestowed me with so much in such a short time. So many girls are unable to make it out here despite their ravishing beauty but God has been especially kind to me.
So, have there been any lows for you?
Of course, when I began modeling I was doing my intermediate, so my grades really slumped which I hated. In fact one reason my family opposed me was for the very same reason. But I stick to it as I was enjoying it, was learning so much and most importantly, the money was too good to resist.
And highs . . .?
In June last year, we did a show in the Royal Albert Hall in London, so being part of that group was an honor for me. I was there with Iraj, Vaneeza, ZQ, Imam, Tariq Amin and Farieha. Strings and Junoon also performed there. Amongst the designers, Sonya Batla, Nilofer Shahid, Faiza Samee and Rizwan Beyg were there while Amin Gulgee did the jewelery. I feel it was a cherished occasion for our fashion industry as well.
How does it feel to be financially independent at such a young age?
It felt amazing. When you start earning at such a young age, you tend to be more responsible with it. I don’t go around on shopping spree or flaunt it in front of people. I support my family and save some for a rainy day.
You have a reputation of being very particular about the kind of clothes that you wear, why?
I have kept it like that since the beginning. Now when designers contact me they know what I will and won’t wear. I will never wear clothes that are revealing. I am equally comfortable both in eastern and western clothes.
So what is modeling all about in your opinion? What counts more, attitude or looks?
It’s all about transforming you into a new person, not just with looks but also with attitude. You must know how to carry yourself well. The expertise of a good stylist can definitely make you look ravishingly beautiful but without attitude, you cannot get the desired image. Then a photographer can also make a world of difference using his camera and lights inventively. In this aspect, experience matters a lot. Like when I began I didn’t know how to strut my stuff but have learnt the ropes with time. Now I really enjoy ramp, its live and happening. The atmosphere is so electric.
How would you compare our modeling industry with the international scene?
Though it’s expanding its horizons day by day but even then it’s a very small industry on the whole. Then the way of working is not at all systematic. Whatever we learn is on the job, there is no agency that could groom models about the techniques and approaches. This industry constantly needs fresh talent but girls from good families are discouraged, as it’s considered to be a taboo to be a model. You are coined a fast character who would indulge in every notorious activity under the sun. but despite all this, look at the good work that’s come up over the past few years. People like Asad ul Haq, Asim Reza, Saquib malik have given such boast to he standard of work being churned out. So I would say the winds of change are taking over this arena.
Coming to the local front, how would you compare the modeling scene in Karachi with Lahore?
There isn’t much difference between the two. In Karachi models work freelance with whoever approaches them while in Lahore work is down within camps, a particular photographer will only work with a certain model thereby creating monopoly. But this way he makes sure that this prodigy gets projection regularly, an advantage that models in Karachi don’t have. But Karachiites are open-minded, they don’t have any qualms about working with a new designer, stylist or photographer, so this provides variation in work, which is positive.
Super model is a term used to classify the sought-after models here and you have attained that status in a relatively short span of time. Was it a goal for you?
When I began some five years back all I could think of was approach it as professionally as I could. And by the grace of God, it has paid off. Yes people do call me a super model and it’s sheer honor to be compared with somebody like Iraj or Vaneeza. But I take it all in my stride because I think I have proven to the world that I am worth it.
Coming to that . . . you seem to have a covalent bond with Iraj. She’s been around for many years while you belong to the newer breed. How come?
There can’t be any justifications about a friendship. Iraj is a fantastic girl. She has helped me immensely in my work and has also been a source of great inspiration. She’s my best friend.
But aren’t models generally knows to talk ill about each other while you are falling short of words when it comes to praising Iraj?
The two of us are very compatible. It’s a great meeting of minds, and then we have similar habits too. Like after shows she doesn’t go to parties like me. Then when we go abroad for shows, we try sharing a room as we both enjoy the same channels etc. Rubab is nice too, so is Vinny and ZQ. We all enjoy working together a lot in fact I often joke with them that when you people would retire I might follow suit. At times, when there aren’t any shows taking place we actually miss each other.
And what was the response when you were a novice amongst them, any cold shoulders?
My seniors have been very welcoming and appreciative of my efforts. Like my first who was in the year 2000 at the Karachi Parsi Institute with Rizwan Beyg. And I was totally at loss about how to walk on the ramp. Iraj and Vinny helped me a lot teaching me about turning techniques, the turns, mid turns, semi turns etc.
The heights that you have achieved in your career came very early. Any formula for success?
All I can say is that I was destined to be a model. Everything just happened for me. I had to do no running around, no struggling for a breakthrough. While I was doing my Intermediate, my aunt, Angie Marshall the stylist suggested that I should take part in some shows. Then stylist Saima offered me a shoot for Mag in May’99. It was a bridal shoot; she declared that I have perfect features for a bride. When that came out Asiatic Advertising Agency offered me a Sun silk campaign being shot in Singapore. And when that was aired, I began getting good offers for shows and shoots and as they say the rest is history.
Abrar-ul-Haq’s ‘Preeto’ also gave a major boast to your career. Do you enjoy doing music videos?
It was the best thing that happened for me, I am so glad I agreed to do it. Ahsen Rahim and Amena Khan approached me with the storyboard and concept that I thought was rather nice. In fact I had done Shehezad’s Roy and Sukhbir’s duet ‘Janay Karlo Piyar’ just a week before I did ‘Preeto’.
You also tried your hands at acting but couldn’t impress the critics?
I branched out into acting merely because I wanted to see how I would fare there. I was bombarded with offers for the mini screen but I chose to do telefilms and a few interesting projects only. But I didn’t really enjoy acting so for the future I intend to concentrate on modeling alone.
So who are the people you like to work here?
Well, as a stylist I like Saima’s work, she’s very innovative, then I have done my best work with Arshad Tareen. In designers, I like Rizwan Beyg, Deepak Perwani and of the newer lot I think Nomi Ansari is a marvelous designer . in choreography, there’s Hassan Shearyar, Farieha Altaf and Imran Kureshi, all are very good and very individualistic in their approach.
Now something about Sunita Marshal, the person?
I would call myself an introvert. I have a very small group of friends. I don’t like to attend parties or hang out a lot. I am a very homily person, when I am not working I would rather stay home and relax. Mostly I prefer jeans and t-shirt, I am very comfortable in it. If someone sees me at home, he would think I am the maid!! Models don’t remain decked up all day long as opposed to what people might think.
Now something about matters of heart. Have you found your significant other?
I would rather not talk about it; it’s something very personal. But yes I do believe in love. It comes to those who believe it.
What do you look for in a relationship?
Two people who are very comfortable with each other and are willing to share their lives together. I am a staunch believer that every individual must have his space. I feel that if you love someone, give him freedom, if he comes back to you, he yours, otherwise he wasn’t meant for you. My partner must realize and accept that I too have a life of my own apart from him. Then he must have a marvelous sense of humor, this is a basic requirement.