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Who’s that girl?

Sonali Raut was in Calcutta recently to shoot for a PC Chandra Jewellers ad directed by Rituparno Ghosh. Shot at Golf Club Road, then near Ruby General Hospital and also a Baruipur home, Sonali was paired opposite model-actor Anando. “Sonali has a fresh look at the beginning, an almost no make-up look,” explains make-up artist Abhijit Chanda. “She will also be seen as a traditional Bengali bride”. A chat with the belle born in Mumbai and brought up in Pune, who has emerged as one of the new sizzlers on the fashion block...

How much of an influence was your sister Ujjwala?

We have a big age difference (nine years). When I was growing up, she was famous internationally. That’s when I decided that I’d get into modelling. I thought I would finish with my studies first. I was studying commerce. But then it just happened to me. I had gone to a party in 2007 where (photographer) Atul Kasbekar spotted me.

Did you ever accompany Ujjwala for shoots?

Yes, I did. Whenever I used to come to Mumbai, I used to go see her shows. That time modelling was on a different level. It was beautiful to see the fashion shows. The league of models was different. I have been for her print shoots, too.

What was your first ever impression of modelling?

This is what I chose to be because I really liked modelling. You know the money, the name, the fame... you get to travel, meet people, socialise and the contacts. It’s really beautiful. I really love my profession. I have seen my sister work here. She has name, fame, money, status, everything. I have met her fellow models. It wasn’t very tough for me. But once you get into it, it’s hard work. If you are with the right people, then it is easy. But at the end of the day, it is your hard work, determination and where you want to reach.

Your favourite models…

I love my sister, of course. What she’s done to herself and what she is now… an icon to a lot of girls. But apart from her, I also like Madhu Sapre. I remember I met her four-five years back. She’s a great person and I’ve been watching her ever since I was a kid.

Is there anything you did not know about the industry that has been an eye-opener?

Actually, there is a lot to learn. I knew that it was not easy. I remember shooting for a French magazine that was celebrating Cannes with Bollywood. This was in 2007; my second or third shoot. It was on a very different level. We shot at very real locations like red light areas and dhobi ghats. The working process was very different. I was wearing Emanuel Ungaro, Chanel and Victoria’s Secret. How to face the camera and in front of so many people, eve teasing, press and the stress of shooting at real locations... was a learning experience.

How has Kingfisher Calendar changed your life?

I was approached by Atul (Kasbekar) for the press shoot of the calendar. I was worried about how toned I was. I am very thankful that it happened to me because I wasn’t prepared for it and it happened suddenly. It got me a great exposure.

Any special preparation you took for a bikini shoot?

Yes (laughs). Once I got selected, Atul told me very clearly that I needed to be in great shape. A model should not be thin or size zero for the Kingfisher calendar. There should be weight at the right places. I was working out and I did my power yoga and was on a strict diet. I ate vegetables, chicken and paneer. I stopped refined carbs at least for a month.

Ramp or print?

Print any day. Not ramp because I am not very tall (5’7’). The designers have to really alter for me!

Is there any pressure in being compared to your sister?

Yes, there is. I am constantly being compared with her. But people should understand that she is an established model and I have not been in the industry for very long. The more you work, the more you learn. I am good at what I am doing and she is good at what she is doing.

Any Bollywood dreams?

I am focused on Bollywood. I have a few offers, but nothing great has come up. I am not looking for Hinglish films, but feel-good cinema, a commercial film. I would like to debut opposite Shahid Kapur. Shah Rukh Khan is my favourite actor.

How do you keep fit?

After the calendar, I have really disciplined myself because it is important to be in shape and look good always. I drink a lot of water. I eat all healthy things but once a week I cheat also. I am into power yoga. Whenever, I have time, I work out, maybe three times a week. I walk and take the stairs. Going to the gym is not possible every day. I think healthy. I begin my day with a glass of water.

Any tips from your big sister?

She’s always told me to be nice to people, be professional and presentable.

other f-girls to watch out for

Diana Penty
Esha Gupta
Tamara Moss
Jyosthna Chakravarthy
Lisa Haydon

Who do you think is the hottest Indian model? Tell t2@abpmail.com

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