Ms. Aparna sounded very upbeat when we started our conversation stating that IIPM has always had a very important and as well as a very emotional space in her life. “Anything for IIPM”, she says with purpose, and yes, she means it! Ms. Aparna was an Apeejay School student and always had an affinity towards History and English, but she decided to take up English Honours from Kamla Nehru College. It was here were her first trysts with the ramp started. “I won the best female model in the first year of the SRCC Fashion Show”, she adds with joy. At that point, she was pretty focussed about growing up and being self sufficient. Ms. Aparna recollects that her family was primarily old school in terms of career of choice back then and her grandfather was also very strict. She adds, “I was really determined to get into the advertising industry back then.” Ms. Aparna then narrates a small story after which her modelling career kick-started. During her 2nd year at Kamla Nehru, she asked her dad to give her some money as she wanted to do a portfolio photo shoot. Her dad disagreed, but Ms. Aparna was determined and went ahead with the shoot by borrowing money from her friend. “The photo shoot took place on a Sunday, and when I showed the pictures to my dad, he like them a lot”, she exults. And thus began her ramp journey on a fast track. Subsequently she won the Best Female Model award for three successive years at the SRCC Fashion Show. “It was a pleasure, and I finally started to earn on my own. It felt that I was coming of age”, she adds. One of her friends, Ms. Gauri had joined IIPM and Ms. Aparna often joined her for hanging out at IIPM. That is how she once met Prof. Arindam Chaudhuri and Prof. Rajita Chaudhuri, and after taking up the entrance test, Ms. Aparna became part of the 1994 batch of IIPM.
Speaking more about IIPM, she feels that IIPM transformed her in many ways. “The biggest impact IIPM made was at the way you look at life and your confidence in dealing with situations”, she affirms. Ms. Aparna was studying all on her own in terms of fees and other expenses and believes that the support she got from Dr. MK Chaudhuri and Prof. Arindam Chaudhuri was unparallel. She adds, “IIPM was the most emotional journey of my life as it was always like a family for me on whom I can count on for helping me with all my personal issues.” On a lighter note, Ms. Aparna adds with a laugh that she was sometimes not the favourite amongst the Professors. “I was into modelling by the time I had joined IIPM, so some of my professors did not use to like my attire at times. But I actually enjoyed doing that”, she adds with a wry smile. On a serious note, Ms. Aparna dedicates all her success to IIPM. She says, “Whatever person that I am today is entirely because of the education and support that I received at IIPM.” At till today, she loves IIPM, and firmly believes that the sanity and comprehension in her thought process along with her inter personnel skills are treasured gifts from IIPM.
Coming on to her field – the fashion industry, Ms. Aparna speaks about the evolution of this industry in India. “When I started modelling, there were 3-4 iconic fashion designers like Rana Gill or Gaurav Gangmani, but today, it seems that everyone I meet is a fashion designer”, she adds. This paradigm shift according to her is largely because of the concept of Lakme Fashion Week. She believes that it was not just a fashion show but a phenomenon. She also highlights that Lakme back then had also started getting buyers from the International arena. However she is quick to admit the fact the industry has taken a beating in terms of change in budgets. “This has resulted in a dip of glamour quotient. For example, when I started my modelling career, there was hardly 5-6 ads made in a year. But today, owing to the extended markets and competition, the number of ads in a calendar year has risen up exponentially”, she ascertains. Ms. Aparna also feels that for any product there are counter ads like Pepsi vs Coke, Nokia vs Samsung, and so on. Because of these reasons, the budgets for the production house are now divided resulting in production quality, budgets, profits, model fees etc. getting sloshed.
But in terms of efficiency, she believes that the Indian industry has only got better and better. She adds, “Today we have foreign directors shooting in India and everything related to fashion and production is available in India. That way the industry has progressed immensely which even includes the post production of fashion shows.” Ms. Aparna then points out that overall in terms of fashion; India has truly gone global which is evident through the fact that the best of brand stores in Milan or Paris have clothes or fabrics that are produced in India. She feels that the finesse of garments coupled with eastern mythical outlook that India presents to the International markets will take Indian fashion industry to the next level. “So in some years down the line, do not be surprised to see Indian clothes, designers, and models scorching the ramps of global fashion shows in Milan or Paris”, she adds firmly.
WHEN I WAS GROWING UP, I ALWAYS BELIEVED IN THE GOOD OLD WORDS– ‘WORK IS WORSHIP’. SO, WHATEVER WAS THE WORK – BIG OR SMALL, I HAD PUT MY HEART INTO IT
Ms. Aparna holds some choice opinion on the young generation who according to her are really short sighted in terms of success. “The only thing I find perturbing about today’s generation is that they lack dedication and perseverance. Most of the youngsters feel that they have arrived just after a little bit of success. When I was growing up, I always believed in the good old words – ‘work is worship’. So, whatever was the work – big or small, I had put my heart into it”, she opines. Ms. Aparna advices the young generation to stick back to the same theory and keep working on as success or failure is ephemeral in nature and thus getting carried away by little success is not the right thing to do. “Carry no chip on your shoulders and always be humble”, she adds.
Getting nostalgic about her times at IIPM, Ms. Aparna says that there are loads of fond memories that she holds dear. “If I have to speak about my special memories, I need at least two hours to speak! Every day was memorable for me”, she adds with excitement.
Ms. Aparna at home is a complete family person as she believes that relations and relatives matter a lot. She adds that whatever success she has had in her life is because of the love and support from her parents and hence I am always there for them in thick and thin. On weekends, she visits her maternal uncle and aunt who live in Mumbai and hangs out with her sisters by going for movies, shopping, dinner etc. But she is quick to bring to our notice the exigencies of being in the fashion industry. “In my line of work, there is no concept of weekends and most of the time, I work on Saturdays and Sundays as well”