Life took a dream turn for this Puneite whose aspirations to become a household name became a reality soon after settling in Pune. At the age of 21, she competed with models across the country to be crowned Miss Commonwealth Asia Pacific (2016).
Shweta is today, a popular model across several advertising campaigns across the country…
We had a candid conversation with Shweta Raj, who took us through her journey from being a common girl to a popular face…
“Pune for me is my fairy God mother. I was just 17 when I stepped into the city and instinctively knew that this city would change my life, and it did. By the time I was 19, I had started seeing myself on hoardings and magazines, found my modelling mentor, a job in digital marketing and pursued tarot card reading. Honestly, more than that, Pune has given me my sense of self.
“From being the little girl in awe of beautiful girls I saw on magazines, to being one giving autographs to girls who find inspiration from me. Life has changed a lot. I have worked very hard to reach here and all I can say today is, hard work does pay off !
“My journey as a model started at home. I would always play ‘dress up’ with my sisters and loved the vibe it gave me. Professionally, it started when I participated in ‘Mirchi Queen Bee’ where I met my mentor – Mr. Lowell Prabhu. His guidance has made me the model I am today,” she says.
Shweta recently participated in India’s Next Top Model season 3 and was trained under some proficient mentors from the industry including Milind Soman, Malaika Arora Khan and ace photographer Dabboo Ratnani.
Sharing some anecdotes from her reality show journey she says, “My journey in INTM-3 was a roller-coaster ride. To the audiences, it went up and down but as I was living my dream, I was absolutely my own hero throughout. I had goosebumps while performing the tasks and still get them when I watch the episodes on television. It was super exciting.
“The experience was thrilling and nerve wracking. While the judges were thorough professionals, the contestants became my family. My favourite judge and person rather, would be Malaika ma’am. My BFF was certainly Summer Jacobs, while Akansha Corda, Riya Subodh and Sabita Karki have a close place in my heart. They all are my friends for life,” she adds.
Giving us a glimpse of the behind-the-scene action and selection procedure of the talent hunt show, she explains, “This included shooting for video diaries or the contestant giving their opinions on tasks and fellow contestants. You may just see 10 seconds of it on television, but after a 12 hour shoot, we used to shoot for another 3 hours of video diaries. Though it was very exhausting, it was a moment where we could talk out freely. Also, our phones were taken on the first day of the shoot and we weren’t allowed to talk or meet our family for the entire duration of the shoot.”
The procedure to apply is very simple. They are two ways to it. First, you apply on the MTV website which is constantly promoted on air or you could apply through a casting director in your city.
She has had many memorable moments competing in the show but for her, getting direct entry to the finale was the magical one.
“Winning the golden ticket to the finale was the best accolade I received on the show. Runway has been my first love and being rewarded for it was really encouraging.
“When I became the finalist of the show by winning the golden ticket, it was a magical moment for me. An episode I truly cherish. Also, I would never forget the family shoot I had with my mom and sister. It was always a dream my mother had to have a beautiful family portrait done and what could have been better than having it done on INTM-3,” she adds.
Talking about her favourites on the sets, she says, “It is a tough choice to make as the whole team was really special. It was my dream to work with Sanjeev and I was more than happy to have got this opportunity. My favourite picture was the underwater task. Who wouldn’t want to pose with Milind Soman,” she winked.
Shweta feels that Pune has a lot of potential for young aspirants. She says that some see the glass half full and some see it half empty. For her, Pune is her glass half full of opportunities and the remaining half is in her mind, the effort she puts into it.
Giving us an insight into her favourite spots in the city and her routine, she says, “I’m an absolutely foodie. When people ask me what would you be, if you weren’t a model- In my head I say, man I would have been plump. My favourite food joints here are Yogi Tree in Koregaon Park, Belgian Waffles, Up South Express and interestingly, the food at Inox Bund Garden and Pavillion.
“My routine is inspired by the quote, ‘Build a life you don’t need a vacation from’. My day starts with replying to emails and hitting it off at the gym. As I’m based in Pune presently, a large chunk of my day goes in recording my auditions and sending it over and travelling.
“When am not modelling, you’ll find me with my tarot cards or crystals or probably doing my freelance work for digital marketing and content writing. I’m like a crazy ball- an extremely hyperactive creature who needs to be productive. I love learning new things,” she signs off.
Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @KaurKaur18
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