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Models, Marriage and Money

Last week, Mumbai woke up to the sad and shocking news of model Viveka Babajee’s suicide. Her good friend, a model tells us: “Viveka was a wonderful and caring soul, but she was naive to think Gautam Vora would marry her. Why didn’t she realise that Gautam or the Vora family would not accept her”. She adds: “The best-looking and wealthiest Indian males are too eager to date a model; but they prefer to marry a girl their status-conscious families approve of, and for most such families a daughter-in-law from this glamour profession is a no-no”.

Viveka experienced a feeling similar to what many other models experience, if they’re single, past 30 and earning no regular income. A need for a life-companion and financial security and in the absence of it there’s heart-break. Reports indicate Viveka was desperate to marry Gautam, a wealthy stock broker from Nepean Sea Road, and when he refused, she was shattered.

Though their career as models is short-lived, the beautiful and glamorous girls lead an exciting and eventful life. Fashion shows and shoots take them to the most exotic destinations, designers and couture houses lend their trendiest clothes and accessories and they party with the rich and famous. Former model turned Grooming Expert Rasna Behl says. “At a young age, the girls, who are typically from an educated yet middle-class background, experience the lifestyle of the super-rich— so naturally, they aspire to marry someone who can give them the same lifestyle.”

And so, models gravitate towards moneyed men, not from traditional Indian business families, but Westerners who would love to marry a girl with Indian values, and a global goddess look. While it’s not common to hear of Indian women marrying Westerners, it is interesting to note that almost half of the then top models are married to Westerners. Ten years ago, Madhu Sapre, a traditional Maharashtrian surprised everyone when she announced her decision to marry Gian Maria, an Italian in the ice-cream business. Other models married to Westerners include Farheen Khan, Tehiya Narvel, Vidisha Pavate, Diya Abraham, Tara Deshpande, Meghna Reddy, Suchitra Pillai, Gurpreet (Blu) Gill, Tora Khasgir and Reshma Bombaywala. There have been marriages and splits too. Sheetal Mallar, Kashmera Shah, Ujjwala Raut and Alesia Raut, married and lived abroad, then separated to return to India.

Ex-models Gayatri Joshi, Namrata Baruwa, Tanaz Pochkhanwala and Dipannita Sharma are wives of Business tycoons, while Waluscha D’Souza, Pallavi Sharma, Mridula Chandrasekhar and Jesse Randhawa married Creative Entrepreneurs. Says Behl: “Meeting and marrying well-off men is one of the first ambitions of glamorous young working women, and models are no exception. While they may be addicted to the good life and yearn for more of it, they should remember that not every model can marry a business magnate or a rich Westerner. Nor does this mean life will be a bed of roses if she marries either. Career planning and choices for every model should include making a transition to a second career or choosing a life-partner who gives security, and not necessarily a life of luxury.”

Reshma Bombaywala and Dimitri Lezinska. Diya Abraham and Nick Bonney

Gayatri and Vikas Oberoi. Tanaz and Chirag Doshi

Mridula Chandrashekhar and Osh Bhabani. Jesse Randhawa and Sandip Soparrkar

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