A model turned actor, Simarjeet Singh Nagra has made a name for himself with an extensive range of projects including ramp shows for designers Pratham and Gyanesh, Pantaloons, Celio, Nike, Puma and SportsXS among others. He has also worked alongside Bollywood A-listers such as Ajay Devgn and Rana Daggubatti. A revolution on the ramp, Singh is one of the select models who continues to strut his turban with pride. we sat down with him for a chit chat which unveils his journey. Here is what he has to say:
Your journey into the world of entertainment has been quite eventful. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Professionally I’m a Civil Engineer and MBA in Construction Management and was working as a manager in one of the one of the biggest real estate firms in India. However, my true passion lies in acting and modeling. There came a point in my life where I thought it would be now or never for me and that is when passion won over profession. I risked my career and came Mumbai in pursuit of my dream.
What inspired you to pursue modeling?
I always had a soft spot for modeling but it was not until I reached college that I came face to face with my passion. I walked the ramp for a college fest and was largely appreciated by my college staff and fellow students. On of my professors even dubbed me Bollywood Singh!
Your are considered India’s first turbaned model. What is your reaction to the title?
There were one or two turbaned models which came before me but I became recognized due to my extensive profile. As per the industry I am considered to have a prominent model personality. I consider it a blessing from The Almighty that my turban adds to my strength and personality.
Many times, modeling and acting requires several look changes in order to fit into the character. Does your being a Sikh make you feel like you have limited options? How do you overcome the challenge?
No I don’t feel so. Whether it be modeling or acting, there is an abundance of work in the in the industry. Hundreds of films and television shows release each year. As an individual, I can probably do maybe four or fie films a year, a couple of episodic and an even lesser number of television shows if given a prominent role. With the industry being so diverse, I am sure a turbaned artiste fits in somewhere in the mix.
We hear you did an ad film with Sachin Tendulkar. What was that like?
The ad film was a road safety campaign created by Aster Pharmacy. Out of a seas of artists, only one model was to be selected to stand side by side with the God of Cricket – Sachin Tendulkar . I was stunned when I found out that my turban was the reason I was selected for the campaign.
Describe your toughest day at work. What challenge did you face? How did you overcome it?
I was shooting an ad film with Ajay Devgn which had several sequences which required me to change costume including my turban. The clothes were a quick change but to properly tie a turban it takes about half an hour. I explained this to the production head who told me if girls can take their time with hair and makeup, you are entitled to perfecting your look as well.
As someone working in the entertainment field what does rejection mean for you?
Not every actor fits into every role. Even superstars face rejection. It’s all a part of the game so I don’t take it so seriously and continue with my efforts to make a name for myself.
According to you what is your greatest strength and weakness?
My greatest strength is my identity as a proud member of the Sikh community. However, there are times in this profession that the look has also become my weakness. In the end, it is up to me who I want to use my identity and I choose to make it my strength.
Whom do you consider to be your role model?
My father is my role model. He is a true hero and supportive father who has molded me into the person I am today.
If not an actor/model what would you have been?
Modeling is in my blood. I wanted to achieve this goal by any means. If not an actor I would have been walking the ramps of the real estate industry as a successful entrepreneur.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
By God’s grace I see myself as an A-lister turban actor who is making his parents proud as a youth icon. I hope this will be the era to embrace change and I want to create love in every culture,every religion as an anchor for the change.
What would you like to tell the Sikh youth who aspire to join the mainstream industry?
Sikh have been stereotyped in the industry for a long time now. It take efforts to break that and make your own image but once you are successful there is no turning back. Your turban will be your identity.