Debonair Magazine India Models
Till a decade ago, nude modelling carried the social stigma of being the exclusive preserve of sex workers. Says Arun K., a Bombay-based photographer, who specialises in nude photography: "In the '80s, most pin-up models came from dubious backgrounds and lived relatively anonymous lives in paying guest accommodations." Easy money, in most cases, was the motive. J.P. Singhal, a painter and nude photographer in the business since 1958, agrees: "In the earlier days, most of these models came from emotionally distraught or economically weak backgrounds and hence found it much easier to flout convention."However, money is no longer a crucial concern. Despite the fact that pin-up models, like their counterparts on the ramp, have seen spectacular price hikes - an assignment with Debonair or Fantasy, the more established girlie magazines, may fetch anything between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000, while the lesser known Chastity, Guys N' Gals, BM Ads and Bombayite pay under Rs 5,000 now.
Debonair Magazine India Models
Till its recent legal imbroglio involving the publication of a minor's nude photographs and its subsequent closure, Fantasy claimed monthly sales of over a lakh copies. Playway quotes sales figures of nearly 30,000 copies while the newer entrants aim at a circulation figure of about 50,000 in another six months.Down to the brasstacks, the model-coordinator-photographer nexus operates in a free and fair manner. "Most models get in touch with the photographer directly, there is nothing clandestine in the dealings," says Sagar, a model coordinator.In a society that seems to be shedding inhibitions and embracing new mores, the desire to savour sex magazines is not entirely surprising. For, though the land of the Kamasutra produced no sexual showman to build a global empire of male fantasies, the recent boom in girlie magazines has swept narcissistic female aspirations out of conventional Indian homes.A career move, an act of defiance, or simply the desire to be different: the impulse to shed clothes is triggered off by different reasons. Explains 21-year-old Nandini Guruv, a professional textile designer, who recently had her first solo exhibition of stylised fabric prints in Bombay: "Finally, it's my life. If I feel good about my body, I will not be embarrassed about posing nude." Guruv's philosophy perfectly sums up the mood of these glamour-seekers: liberated, unashamed and brutally honest.While photographers blame the Star TV and MTV onslaught for this new-found permissiveness, others seek answers in Indian cinema. Adds Rohit Sahu, a glamour photographer: "The ultimate justification for an aspiring model is, if Lisa Ray could do it for Gladrags, why can't I?"
"Nowadays, very few girls ask for their faces to be veiled and covered," confirms Singhal. Adds Varsha Pardkar, Reshma's middle-aged mother: "We cannot set our standards for this generation. Times have changed and exposing is part of their culture."But despite the new candour, Indian society is still a little unprepared for the Playboy - Penthouse brand of voyeurism. And however much the women try to justify their act, the stereotyped stigma of a nude model being an alluring, available woman, still sticks. Fashion photographer Jagdish Mali wryly points out how, despite their success, the nude Monroe pictures in Playboy were also viewed as a desperate act by a destitute actress. "We are nowhere as liberated as the West," he adds.Swati Fernandes, a fashion designer and professional model, who recently appeared on the Debonair cover, is bitter. "Finally, it's easier being a whore. Nobody actually gets to know what you do undercover," she says. Living with her older sister, Neelu, Fernandes has suffered the humiliation of being propositioned and pilloried incessantly by callers and unwanted visitors. With the Bollywood fixation on unexposed debutantes, it is hardly surprising that not a single pin-up model has made it as a starlet, leave alone a top-banner actress. Reveals an insider: "I think these girls land up in bed more often than in films." And while film industry heavyweights such as Mahesh Bhatt and Pankuj Parashar deny any bias against former pin-ups, the ground realities are different. Claims Parashar: "The industry doesn't give a damn about your background. You could be from Harvard or a kotha in Varanasi, if you look good and the audience likes you, it doesn't matter."But the bottomline is that not one of the country's pin-up models has touched mass celebrity status. It's usually a case of girls who fail to get noticed through conventional channels resorting to nude modelling. "It's like the films. First, newcomers bare their bodies to get a break, but once they are established, they move up and don't have to do it any more," says Rajiv Gautam, a Delhi-based model coordinator. Ironically, nude models end up as just that - nude models. "The golden rule, perhaps, is to strip after success," says Vinay Arya, a Bombay-based photographer. "After all Mamta Kulkarni had already made a great hit when she finally decided to pose topless."While pin-up models may well have dispelled myths about their identity, and magazines succeeded in sweeping male fantasies out of the closet into newsstands, hypocrisy remains. And the classic one-liner by Ranjan Kar sums up the archetypal male attitude towards such models: "Even though I have developed and launched this magazine, I still don't take it home to my wife and kids."
Professional models generally stay away from adult magazines even thoughthey have no hesitation in appearing semiclad in advertisements or on thecovers of women’s magazines. "There is a massive shortage ofprofessional models in this field," says Randhir Khare, editor of Debonair".
It is a sleazy world behind the pricey magazines in sealed polythene covers.Scratch the smooth surface, and one encounters shifty-eyed characters whoexploit the naive models in the name of glamour photography. They are the middlemen who pass off as model coordinators.
Often it is a question of how trust-worthy the photographer is. Rich, smart,beautiful working women may figure occasionally in the gatefolds of adultmagazines but most models are there out of sheer desperation. Often they face situations compelling them to jump into bed with the middlemen or thephotographers. "Ninety per cent of the women in television, films andmodelling have to ‘compromise.
The photographer sells the pictures to the magazines or the coordinators butthe girls still may not get any assignment. They again have to shed theirclothes, to live on in Mumbai. The money is nothing to write home about: it is Rs 5,000 for a centrespread on an average; even the best models get only Rs10,000.
According to a photographer who did not want to be identified, Sri Lankangirls willing to pose nude do not look for money. They seek fame and fortune,expecting their faces to be captured by a film maker. "Girls are waitingfor their faces to be launched on a magazine. But the number of magazines inSri Lanka are limited and the photographers of such magazines look forprofessional models and beauties. As such the chances our aspiring girls haveare limited. Thus they go to the extent of even revealing their bodies just toget their faces onto a mag. This enables photographers to exploit girls."