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- Published 6.01.07
|Brothers in arms: Ajay (in yellow t-shirt) and Vijay Balhara|
The Balhara brothers’ brush with the glamour world began with Ajay Balhara’s chance meeting with a journalist at a gas station in Delhi. At that time, Ajay, who was in his early twenties, was training to get into the army. Before he knew it, he was modelling Rohit Bal’s clothes on TV show Suneet Varma Style Guru on Star World.
The show, which showcased various Indian designers and their individual styles, propelled Ajay into the big league of Indian male models and he consolidated his position by later winning the second runner-up title at the Gladrags Manhunt contest in 1999. Soon he had roped his twin Vijay, who was studying to become a lawyer, into modelling too. The two became the first pair of male twins to walk the Indian ramp and were soon working with the country’s top designers. They also had a short stint as actors on the Balaji soap K Nights, a ‘social suspense-thriller’ that played on Star Plus for a short while. They live and work in Mumbai where Vijay is contemplating the launch of his own clothing line and Ajay is nursing an old ambition to be a singer by taking lessons in Hindustani classical music.
We grew up in Delhi with our two sisters. Our dad was in the Air Force, and in many ways we had a typical armed forces childhood. When we were young, both Vijay and I used to dream of becoming pilots and would make up all kinds of rowdy war games. We also joined the air wing of the NCC and I, at least, was quite serious about a career in the forces while Vijay was studying law. But life apparently had other plans for us.
Being identical twins, Vijay and I’d often be the focus of attention at school. One thing both of us detested was always being made to sit next to each other — we used to find it pretty boring after a point.
Another one was our mom making us wear identical clothes. But it was fun as well. We often pretended to be each other and played pranks on teachers, classmates and even people in our family who didn’t know us so well and couldn’t tell us apart. The usual sort of confusions would happen and be a regular source of entertainment for us. Once, I pretended to be Vijay and went to his college and even hung out with his friends. We’d just taken one close friend into our confidence but we managed to trick the rest of the gang!
Once both of us started modelling, we realised that we could cash in on our being twins. It became a sort of USP. We played quite a few pranks during shows too and would keep people guessing as to whom they were talking to.
And of course, like with all twins there’s a special bond between us. It’s not the filmi kind of bond where one twin can feel the other’s pain, but we can definitely gauge each other’s moods very well. I’ve seen some brothers who feel they have to be reticent with their younger or older siblings, but there’s nothing that Vijay and I need to hide from each other. Sometimes, I feel I don’t have to look into a mirror to see myself, I just have to look at Vijay.
I still remember the day I accompanied Ajay on one of his shoots. They happened to fall short of one model and someone suggested that I fall in. And that was that! Before I knew it, we moved to Bombay and were making our living as professional models.
Though initially we felt our being twins was our USP, gradually we realised it might also work against us as the novelty factor wore off. We even heard reports of some designers saying they did not want both of us in the same shows as they felt it would be repetitive.
So Ajay and I decided at one point to vary our looks a bit — while one would grow his hair, the other would get it cut short and in a completely different style. We also have different body types and worked on that — while Ajay is more chiselled and lean, I tend to look a little more muscular. So we started working with different people, and it’s never been that big a problem since then.
As we mostly hang out together, we tend to do similar things. Both of us are movie buffs and gaming freaks, so most of our time at home is spent on the Play- Station II we own. While we have loads of other friends, somehow Ajay and I tend to gravitate towards the same kind of people so we have a lot of common friends.
Since we share a pad, we also have a lot of fights. I don’t think a single day goes by when we don’t argue about something or the other. When we were kids, we used to have really violent physical fights.
Though we don’t do that anymore, we could have an argument about something as silly as whose turn it is to wash the dishes and who threw a wet towel on the bed. Ajay is a bit of a sloppy person to live with and it really gets on my nerves at times, though his girlfriend is very finicky about cleanliness and she sees to it that we keep the house clean.
Now that both of us are seeing different girls (I mean, we can hardly see the same person, can we?) we also tend to make up a foursome when my girlfriend, who lives in Hong Kong, is around. Our girlfriends also get along quite well, so we have a lot of fun together.