“I believe that age is not a cage and sapno ki koi expiry nahi hoti!”

“Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamt of being a model. And I was a cute kid, so people would say, ‘Modelling karo, filmo mein jao.’

But back then, girls were meant to be at home and if they wanted to work, it had to be a ‘respectable job’. So I started sneaking around to participate in plays. I’d try to copy Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi. I even got an offer for a Gujarati movie–I was so excited, but when Papa got to know he said, ‘Achhe ghar ke ladkiyan yeh sab nahi karti.’ I didn’t want to rebel so I gave my dream up.

I went about completing my graduation, post-graduation and then got a job as an admin officer. There, I met my husband. We fell in love and got married. I gave up my job and got involved in ghar grihasti.

I was so devoted towards being a good wife and a good mother that my life revolved around them. I lost my identity…so after 20 years of marriage, I applied for a teacher’s job. Again, it was difficult because I was 45 and they wanted ‘young teachers’, but I proved everyone wrong by first getting the job and then winning the ‘most active teacher’ award!

Once, while scrolling online, I came across a beauty pageant ad that said, ‘Age no bar.’ That was my moment–I applied immediately. That evening, I told my family that I wanted to give this a shot–they were so supportive!

I groomed myself for the pageant and brought home the 1st Runner Up title. My kids said, ‘Maa, we’re so proud of you.’ The feeling was unreal! I took part in 1 more pageant and won again! And at 50, I made my modelling profile. But brands didn’t want an older model, they wanted someone younger.

I realised that even lingerie models are always from the younger age bracket. There would be a plus size section, but nothing for older women. That fueled my desire to become a lingerie model. A start up approached me, but they wanted me to model with cotton bras, almost as if a lacy lingerie wasn’t meant for a 50-year-old.

So, I got a shoot done for myself and posted it online. The reaction was overwhelming. Most people applauded me for my confidence, but others commented saying, ‘Umar toh dekh li hoti.’ It’s so hypocritical because Salman Khan roaming shirtless at 50 is Dabangg, but this is shameful?

A ‘well-educated’ close friend once told me, ‘Yeh kya kar rahi hai?’ But I was past caring about what other people had to say. At 50 I realised a dream I had since I was 15, because I believe that age is not a cage and sapno ki koi expiry nahi hoti!”


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