Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Though our first meeting was a bit of a blur, Colin remembers it like it happened yesterday. It was in the summer of '97 when 'Society Magazine' was flush with the success of hosting the Ford Super Model of The World Show in India and discovering Bipasha Basu. Co-incidentally Colin, an international model had been specially flown down all the way from New Zealand for one of the fashion shoot happened to escort Nina Manuel, one of the contestants (now an established model) to the Ford Super Model of the World Show at the US Club.
Hardly surprising that he had even coached her with the answers then. Except that Nina had gone speechless as she stuttered in the question answer round. Later Colin came over to our office in Mumbai just to say how much he'd loved the show.
Cut to twelve years later, I find myself in Auckland, sitting wide-eyed with my teenaged daughter, rooting for TV3's flavour of the season. In the epicentre of the media blitzkrieg, Colin brought the house down as he injected the show with a fresh appeal with his Colinesque candidness that verged on cheekiness. No wonder he was soon the media darling as the spotlight shifted on this olive skinned model judge with those sparkling hazel green eyes and a fantastic gift of the gab.
As the ratings of New Zealand's Next Top Model, that is based on Tyra Banks’ America's Next Top Model (the licenses of which has been sold to 100 markets) show went up, Colin Mathura Jeffree left his indelible mark on the viewers. What with his outrageous comments, his acerbic wit and his eclectic sense of style and daring that were happily lapped up by the audience.
Whilst New Zealand Herald declared Colin as "the true winner of the show," Metro Magazine raved about his crazy hairstyles and commented saying "should Colin Mathura-Jeffree's hair have its own show?"
This international model who has sashayed and strutted his stuff on the catwalks of Australia, U K, China, Singapore, India and New Zealand has become a diva of sorts as he is inundated with offers for the judging the show on the same lines in Italy, Spain and Russia. Colin, who has been grooming and helping mannequins get their act together since a decade is now being hounded for book deals, interviews, show offers and television spots.
Fortunately for Colin being in the spotlight is something he is very comfortable with. This student of Mt Albert Grammar is in his true element as he poses, preens and pirouettes in the hall of fame. While media personality Judy Bailey had labelled him as NZ's first Super Model in 1995, Colin takes great pride in the fact that he's always been the voice of the ethnic people. So much so, he became a brand to be reckoned with.
Which is why when the internationally renowned designer Jean Paul Gautier wanted to reverberate an Indian look, Colin was immediately called on. The industry in New Zealand tends to be Eurocentric - it subliminally promotes racist stereotypes. I have refused to fit the norms. My work speaks for itself and it transcends race. By going international, I have succeeded. So whenever anyone is looking for an international look, they know who to call on."
What has worked in his favour is the fact that this Anglo Indian model-actor-spokesperson-judge, who is New Zealand born to a Fiji Indian mother and European father, has never turned away from who he is. "I have never really looked for other people's opinion. Why should one mirror the inadequacies of another person? One has to find the journey within you and be confident enough to constantly push yourself to new limits."
In fact just when Colin was about to hang his portfolio after eighteen glamorous years in showbiz--- where he even had an opportunity to play the protagonist in the Indo Kiwi Bollywood production 'Love Has No Language' apart from the sword-wielding Prince of India in the popular 'Xena: Princess Warrior,' and a case-solving scientist in 'Stolen Love'--- he was called to audition as one of the judges for TV3's next big project. It was within minutes that Colin with his incredible sense of humour had the producer of the show telling him he was by far the most hilarious person he'd met.
"For the audition I asked the producer of NZ's Next Top Model to do the cat walk for me in his yellow shirt that he was wearing. And when he started walking, I told him 'you look as if you're walking through St Luke's Mall!' He just cracked up. The Colin you see on camera is who I am. I'm flamboyant, enthusiastic, strong, and opinionated, that's me, he shrugs as people at the restaurant recognise him and can't stop watching every move of his. And that's the way it has always been. "When I was studying at the University of Auckland I was discovered repeatedly by the fashion cops. I would pick up a lot of crazy fashion sense and always dressed over the top. I believe in extreme fashion Sometimes I would turn up wearing a turban and at other times I would be the show-stopper in a fashion show with a Maroon jacket and rose coloured spectacles, he laughs.
It was probably his inimitable sense of style that got this spirited six footer, the opening and closing of the Versace show in New Zealand, as well a plethora of other advertising campaigns. I owned it! he announces with the quiet confidence of one who's been there and done that. However, the one campaign he strangely enjoys talking about is the Bajaj Motorcycle commercial he shot in India. Mention India to Colin and he swoons like a sixteen year old hopelessly in love. Good or Bad, it's eventually the destination I want to be in. I feel that magnetic pull all the time, " he confesses." I remember shooting for designer Krishna Mehta in India and just smelling the beautifully designed garments, gave me a rush!" Rubbing shoulders with the glitterati and yet standing his own, Colin talks of the time he was sitting beside actor Salman Khan at a party in Mumbai. He casually mentioned that he'd heard there were going to be lots of stars at the party. The rest of the evening was hysterical as Salman kept pointing to every bartender, doorman and guest saying, "I think he is a star!"
Another person he has very fond memories of, is Madhu Sapre who actually took Colin under her wing and introduced him to people when he did a modeling stint in India. The two of them are now regularly in touch and are currently working on a big plan across the seven seas.
In the mean while Colin who has been flooded with offers to do several other television shows, interviews, write a book and make a guest appearance at parties in the US, wants to be choosy. But what he is most excited about is the call from India from a very big production company that belongs to the heart throb of the nation.
Though right now, he is not telling!
y say you meet people for a reason or a season. From the looks of it I'm in season two of a reality show as I sit across Colin Mathura Jeffree at Knights at Albert, Stamford Plaza, discussing the whirlwind of events that has made him the media's favourite pin-up boy.