At six she dreamt of being Miss World
For Manasvi Mamgai, the journey towards the Miss World title began over 16 years ago. Like many girls her age, she too sat before her television set watching Aishwarya Rai with much anticipation.
By the time Rai -- then a relatively unknown face -- was crowned, the seven-year-old Manasvi had made up her mind -- that was where she wanted to be.
Today, the Mumbai-based model is just a step away from achieving that goal. She won the Miss India-World 2010 title recently and will represent the country at the Miss World pageant to be held in Vietnam later this year.
When we speak over the phone, Manasvi comes across as an extremely focused young woman who has consciously worked towards her dreams. She took two years off from her education and recently shifted from Delhi to Mumbai so she could concentrate on her modelling assignments.
Once the face of the fairness cream Fair and Lovely, Manavsi Mamgai is everything she played in the commercial (click here to watch) -- a girl next door with stars in her eyes and a desire to be on top of the world.
Even as the accolades keep pouring in, Manasvi is yet to come to terms with her newfound stardom:
When did you realise you were finally famous?
After I won the Miss India crown, I went backstage to meet my mom and some friends who had come over, when someone asked me for my autograph. My first reaction was that of disbelief. That was when I realised I was famous.
Why did you compete for Miss India?
I was six when I saw Aishwarya Rai being crowned Miss World (in 1994). Ever since, I wanted to be part of the competition. However, when I started modelling, I was under contract with (international modelling agency) Elite and then with Fair and Lovely. Participation in Miss India requires you to be free from all contracts. Finally, things fell into place this year and I gave it a shot.
Image: Manasvi Mamgai
'It was great to be economically independent'
How did you get into modelling?
As a child, I was always into dancing and theatre. I wanted to be an actor. (Former model and tennis player Leander Paes' wife) Rhea Pillai once participated in an Art of Living camp in Chandigarh where my mother met her. She was the one who suggested I give modelling a shot. I met up with a few agencies and finally I signed up with Elite, after I finished my 12th grade exams. I came to Delhi and have never looked back.
Tell us something about yourself. Where does your family come from?
My mother is from Nainital and Dad, who is an engineer, comes from Almora. After they married they settled in Delhi. I was born there. Then Dad got transferred to Chandigarh and both liked the city so much they decided to stay. I finished my schooling in Chandigarh -- from Hansraj (Public School) and Mt Carmel (School). After which I shifted to Delhi, where I stayed for the next four years. For the last eight months, I have been living in Mumbai.
What was your first ever pay-package like and at what age did you bring home your first salary?
I must confess I cannot remember. Since I used to be a dancer, I would get invited for various shows. The first modelling assignment must have paid me around Rs 5,000. This was definitely after I finished my 12th grade (but I cannot remember which show it was).
It was a great feeling to be economically independent. At a time when my friends were struggling to get into colleges, I was managing my finances! It meant responsibility too, but it was good fun.
'Don't try to be someone you are not'
What kind of assignments did you work on after signing up with Elite?
I did a lot of ramp shows, ad campaigns -- I was part of the Fair and Lovely print and television campaigns. I also did a lot of work with (top fashion designers) Tarun Tahiliani, Manish Malhotra and Rana Gill, among others, as well as editorial shoots for fashion magazines such as L'Officiel, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Vogue and Marie Claire.
What, according to you, are the golden rules of the fashion business in India?
First, be punctual and professional because it will help you go a long way. Don't try to be someone you are not. This is a competitive industry and it is important to keep your head on your shoulders. Finally, you have to be patient. Delays are bound to happen and you have to bear with them.
Can you give us diet tips you follow?
- Drink a lot of water.
- Avoid eating spicy and oily food if you cannot burn those calories.
- Have a healthy and heavy breakfast, something that will keep you going through the day.
- Have salads -- they are healthy and filling.
- Try having dry fruit -- they are a good source of energy.
- Keep your dinner light.
What does your workout regimen look like?
I have never really enjoyed hardcore workouts like picking up weights. So I try and participate in various group exercises. I love aerobics, power yoga, andkick-boxing because they are fun and also great ways to lose weight. I also enjoy dancing a lot.
'This industry survives on word of mouth'
What is your personal sense of style like?
When I am not working I like to dress casually -- a light top with a pair of comfortable denims and flip-flops. I like experimenting with my clothes.
Have you ever suffered any embarrassing at-work moments? How did you deal with it?
I was walking for (Delhi-based fashion designer) Mandira Wirk once when the shoe I was wearing flew into the first row of the audience! There was nothing I could do so I just simply smiled and walked away. These things happen.
If you could have a regular job, what would you want it to be and why?
I am a water person and I like adventure sports a lot. If I was not a model, I would have been a scuba diver or would have pursued a career in water sports.
What career advice would you like to give youngsters aspiring to be part of the glamour industry?
The key is to be professional and punctual. Everyone in the industry is good-looking and has something unique about her/him. It is important that you behave professionally with the people you work with. Word of mouth goes a long way and this industry survives on word of mouth.
Any mundane chores you perform in your spare time? Do you enjoy them? And which ones put you off?
Whenever I get the time I love organising my computer and 'defragmenting' my hard disc! I don't do any household work.
'I am scared of failure'
Tell us something about your education:
I finished my schooling from Chandigarh. After my 12th, I took a break for two years and pursued modelling professionally. I was a good student in school and had even secured a seat for an architecture course. I decided to pursue computers, but whenever I had my exams, I would be caught up with fashion week. In fact I missed my final examinations because the dates clashed with the Miss India contest.
What are you afraid of?
I am scared of failure. I have won every contest so far and I don't know how I would deal with it if I failed at some point. But then again, the fear of losing drives me and makes me perform under pressure.
What was it like growing up with a single parent?
I was in my 11th grade when my parents got divorced. It was difficult when it happened. But my mother did a pretty good job raising me.
What are your future plans?
Right now I am just focused on the Miss World contest. Then, hopefully, I will try and get into movies.
How are you working towards the Miss World contest?
The grooming will start in the next few weeks. But I have already started preparing for the pageant -- I take care of my skin and I've started hitting the gym.
My favourite cuisine: Punjabi
My favourite drink: Fresh lime soda
I love hanging out at: The movies
The most frequently played song on my iPod: Nothing in particular, but I love blues guitar.
Best movie of all time: The Dark Knight
Favourite books: Shantaram and The Alchemist
Preferred travel destination: Goa
Makeup I can't live without: My lip balm
My biggest challenge: Living without my family during the Miss India training.
My idea of a perfect day: Holiday on a beach
My idea of a perfect date: Would be something fun and adventurous, like rafting in Rishikesh.
Things that turn me on in a man: Confidence
Biggest turn-offs: When he tries to act over-smart.
I can't leave home without: Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream
In my spare time, I enjoy doing: I will tell you when I get some spare time!