From Budgam to Bollywood

Published at November 19, 2017 12:28 AM 0Comment(s)73935views

India’s hottest Kashmiri male model, Rouhallah Gazi, talks about his journey, struggle and success

From Budgam to Bollywood

Nazir Ganaie


His decision to move from central Kashmir’s district Budgam to Bengaluru in 2009 landed him into modeling industry instead of his Indian Air Force job as medical assistant. Rouhallah Gazi, has come a long way to become one of the top models in India today.


After finishing his class 12 from Government Higher Secondary School, Budgam, he got selected for a medical assistant post in Indian Air Force.

 “I went to Bangalore for training purposes. And it was here when I heard about the India's International Face contest. I kept trying and looking for shows,” Gazi recalled.


 “In 2010, I appeared for an audition and luckily I got it. I met choreographer Lubna Adams and designer Vikram Phadnis and they encouraged me to try modeling as a career.” Gazi however gives credit of spotting him to Prasad Bidappa, a noted trainer in fashion industry. Gazi said after lot of hardships, he realized that he understood the importance of building the contacts in the industry to embrace success.


“I worked really hard to build my contacts and soon many offers started pouring in. Since I was always interested in modeling and the fashion industry, I gave it a try and luckily landed into it successfully,” Gazi said.  He later he moved to Mumbai - a city of dreams, where he was rejected at Lakme among other brands. However the rejections didn’t discourage this young energetic, male model from Kashmir.  “I kept appearing for auditions and they kept rejecting me. However it never discouraged me from appearing again and again into the auditions. They (selectors, panel) would never tell me where I was wrong,” he said. “I kept working really hard and kept working on my body and experimented with my looks and it really helped,” Gazi shared.


 “In Mumbai, working around without friends and accountancies was a herculean task but as they hard work really pays and it did for me. In 2012, I was selected by Lakme and I did my first show with designer James Ferriera,” Gazi recalled.


Rouhallah Gazi, who is also known as Raymond Gazi after he was hired by Raymond Suiting’s and did some fashion shows for the prestigious company, says that “all wasn’t rosy for his success.”  

 “The journey into the fashion world hasn’t been easy for anyone; I am not an exception too. It hasn’t been easy for me at all,” he says. “While you decide to become a model, you have to think that you aren’t working for a salary, you're paid per contract, per event. Sometimes you negotiate; sometimes you work because there is nothing better to do,” he says.


He says that he had done quite a few shows for free so that he could work with new designers and build his profile. “If you do too many shows, it adds to your disadvantage because most big brands want fresh faces,” he said. However he marinated that working his ends meet also comes to play a part in the struggle.


 “If you come from a place called, Kashmir, that too from Budgam, you need exposure to a greater extends. You have to manage your living and that tires you mentally, so there is pressure to do smaller shows too,” he said.


Gazi, who lost his father, Muhammad Qaisim Bhat, had thoughts to come back to Kashmir for good.


“God had something else in kitty for me.  On February 8, 2015, the Raymond made-to-measure commercial was finally aired on TV. My life took a U-turn. People, who had rejected me started writing to me and calling and appreciating my work,” he said. “It really helped me to grow as a model, both economically and networking wise.”


Recalling about the most exciting event of his life, Gazi says that after facing many rejections, he had other plans.

 “I was helping my father in the farm here when I got a call from an agent asking me to send some fresh photographs and a video. It was for the Raymond Advt,” he said. “I had to borrow a pair of shoes and formal suit from my friend so that I could shoot for the advt. It was an amateur video and I wasn't even hoping I would get through,” he said.




Rouhallah Gazi who is easy to spot with his signature bearded look. He recalled how model-groomer Prasad Bidappa gave him his first runway break. His recent Raymond’s Made-To-Measure campaign has placed him on the fashion map. He said he wouldn’t know what to do with his life if he hadn’t chosen to be a model. Experts put his style quotient as simple, neat and comfortable.

Gazi, who credits his success to the unflinching support of his family, said that fir someone who comes from states like Jammu and Kashmir, fashion industry is a huge learning platform.  “Four initial years, I used to be depressed for the want of breaks. I couldn’t focus well on myself but later I realized how important it to work hard and keep achieving,” he said. “Initially, I wasn’t able to talk to people, do networking. But I have realized that if you need work and build your profile, you must meet, talk, talk,” he said. He said although the job allows you to travel for free, however sometimes clients too offer the perks. “I have been to many places including Jakarta, Macau, Hong Kong and I would love to go to Cape Town some day. I have been getting a lot of good offers but I haven't been able to go there yet.” While he is intended to his glamorous job, Gazi said that there is the downside of it too. “Sometimes choreographers and designers scream at you for no reason.  If you lose your cool, you'll lose a contract. While you are on job, you have to learn, how not to lose your calms and be calm and composed for your job and to your client too,” he said.

In Budgam, many youngsters, including, Muzamil Bhat, Qasim Ali, who are out to try their luck in glamorous work are following Gazi. Gazi has some tips for the aspiring models of Kashmir. “Do not take shortcuts. You must keep learning constantly. You have to take care of your body and be observant of the requirements of the market and most importantly one shouldn’t let success change who you are or what you used to be,” he said. Back in my hometown, I still talk to my friends and neighbors with the same affection. Some of them have seen me on television and tell me that my attitude has changed and that I have become more confident than I used to be.



Bollywood & Tollywood journey


Gazi, who is recognized as “Saleem Bhai” in Telangana State and Andhra Pradesh for his character in the Nikhil-starrer film, Sankarabharanam.  Since then, there has been no looking back. “I have been living in Mumbai for the past five years. I have walked for top designers like Sabyasachi, Christian Louboutin, Shantanu and Nikhil, J.J. Vallaya and others. But I have been very picky about my work and maybe that’s why I have built a good portfolio for myself,” he said. Sharing his views about his role in Sankarabharanam, which got him recognized in film industry, he said, “When we went around for promotions of the film, people were calling me “Saleem Bhai”. From people not knowing my name, to being recognized everywhere, the journey has been unreal.” He said it was always hard for a person who had not been inside a theatre ever in his hometown or native State. “I want to work with bigger stars in Bollywood. I always keep going with this notion that this is just a beginning for me,” he said. “What makes a good model great? Is it just an ideal jaw line and Greek God-like features or is it more,” says Gazi. He has developed a great ability to understand the sense of frame when being shot has landed him assignments for heavyweights so far.


“If you think being a model is a cakewalk let us make things clear: it is not, especially for men. In a country where designer fashion is defined mostly by women’s wear, these male models have made a name for themselves by tiptoeing between their Bollywood dreams and fashion’s harsh realities,” he said.


He is India's top male model and the most in-demand face for various luxury brands. His signature beard, lean and muscular physique set the ramp ablaze, every time he gets down to the business. Originally from Kashmir, Rouhallah Gazi has made a name in the fashion industry in a very short span. He grabbed the spotlight after the Raymond advert. Today, all the top fashion shows in the country has Gazi as the male showstopper. He started his modeling career in Bengaluru where he was working as a medical assistant and it was model-groomer Prasad Bidappa, who gave him his first runway break.

And while stalking his Instagram account we discovered that it's nothing less than gold. This devastatingly good-looking man is a true debonair and girls drool over him. And no doubt Gazi is every guy's envy. Feast your eyes on this raw and rugged Instagram pictures of Rouhallah Gazi. 


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