She’s beautiful, confident, fiercely independent and determined to make her way in the world her own way. HELLO! is left inspired as the 24-year-old Roshni Shaarma shares how she conquered the art of modelling and is now spiritually inclined in her everyday life.
Roshni Shaarma was once “that kid on the field, covered in mud, mucky with dirty scars and wounds…” When one listens to her describe her childhood, it’s astounding to believe she’s a familiar face in the campaigns of some of the biggest international fashion brands today. She’s also a student of psychology, having always been curious in the various ways of the human mind. As HELLO! gets down to business with this stunning, dusky global model, she shares her journey in sports and how she finally became the popular name in fashion she is today.
HELLO!: Describe yourself in five words.
RS: “I’m focused, a go-getter, self-inspired, spiritual and highly ambitious!”
H!: What was your childhood like? Tell us a little about your life growing up.
RS: “I was born in Thane, but we moved at least 13 to 14 houses within the city by the time I was 22. So I never really had one set of friends, and my childhood was always about being more in the present — what sport I was about to play, when my next singing, dancing, karate or art classes were… My parents hoped for me to be more academically inclined, but I loved sports a little too much.”
H!: So sports played a vital role in your upbringing and the way you live today…
RS: “My love for sports developed around the age of nine, when I started playing basketball. Then came rugby, which became my passion. This love affair went on for around 11 years, till I turned 21, when I switched gears to pursue modelling. Today, a lot of my personality, my values, my principles, the way my mind works comes from sports. I never look at life like just another day — I look at it as another match. Another challenge I have to win. That’s how my spirit thrives.”
H!: How did modelling come about?
RS: “Growing up, my mother would take me to studios and get beautiful photographs taken after styling me in pretty dresses. I also used to use a bedsheet as a backdrop and take selfies of myself to make a portfolio. I don’t know why I was even trying to make a portfolio!
In college, I decided to participate in this ‘princess’ pageant. I was simply playing the fool, but one of the judges (he was from the Miss India organisation) suggested that I try my hand at modelling. I was surprised because I didn’t resemble a conventional model. I was tanned, scarred and not skinny — I was a rugby player!
After I quit rugby because of some politics at play, I met my physiotherapist following a PCL injury. She and a few others pushed my family to let me try modelling. I wasn’t keen at first — I was still quite a tomboy — but deep down, the seed was sown, and I really wanted to give it a try.
There were initial rejections, but I worked on myself, built my Instagram page tagging various scouts, and finally signed up with an agency that DMed me. I still didn’t have the appropriate ‘vitals’ for a model and made do with free test shoots. Nothing materialised for a year till I got my first paid gig for a campaign shoot in Jaipur with photographer Charudutt Chitrak. He told me I had major potential internationally and should work on myself. I took him seriously, focused on building my personality and also participated in a Miss India pageant.”
H!: How did your interest in psychology develop? Are you a certified NLP life coach today?
RS: “I was always naturally curious and wanted to make sense of things, of people, of circumstances, connect the dots and understand how the mind works. I’m still studying neuro linguistic programming (NLP). It’s the study of the language that your nervous system understands. You can reprogramme it to think, remember, act or replace a certain memory. It’s a very interesting aspect of psychology. I’ll become a certified coach after I complete my masters. Eventually, I hope to establish an NGO and support people who don’t have access to the help they need.”
H!: Share what you believe are the biggest misconceptions about the world of modelling.
RS: “People have this notion that the industry is full of sex, drugs and alcohol. That’s absolutely wrong! I believe the modelling industry is very safe for women. I’ve had more than 100 shoots till date and travelled abroad, and I’ve never been pressured into anything inappropriate. There’s also this misconception that models make crores or lakhs once they make it to a billboard or a magazine. There’s glamour, but there’s also a lot of struggle involved. Casting is a gruelling process. It includes test shoots, your personality, your presence in front of the camera, sometimes even your interests. It’s no easy game. It’s pure hard work.”
H!: Do you think beauty standards are changing today?
RS: “Yes, beauty standards are most definitely evolving, and the industry is more accepting of different body types and colour today. There’s a lot more opportunity in this field of work now than in the past. Despite being a woman of colour, I was given a warm welcome by insiders. Today, with the industry being open to people from a lot of different races and ethnicities, I think people should just go for it. Even pageants have lowered their height criteria and are welcoming shorter women.”
H!: What are your other interests?
RS: “My other interests are more spirituality and movement inclined. I practise yoga and breathwork. I’m trying to build my own wellness brand by sharing ways to live a healthy lifestyle and include NLP in our everyday life. I also read a lot on mythology, gods and spiritual practices. I’ve been practising a form of Tibetan Buddhism for the past few years, so I meditate a lot and read a lot of scriptures. For a spot of fun, I journal and indulge in CrossFit and dancing. I love to swim, so I head out to the beach often. I like to bask in the sun. I’m not a party girl. I prefer to stay grounded whenever I can amid my work and travel schedule.”
H!: Describe your personal sense of style.
RS: “It’s very raw, androgynous and strong. I’m sporty and love my big blazers. My wardrobe has a lot of blacks, solids, and nudes. It speaks of my personality. There are days when I just switch to different personalities using colour because I believe clothes really define your day and how you want to carry yourself that particular day.”
H!: Work takes you around the world. Share your favourite destinations.
RS: “I love the city of Durro in Catalonia. I’m an old soul and love to have more culture and a slow lifestyle around me. I was also so happy in the Pyrenees. Up in the mountains, I was at peace with no tech, or the pressure to use our phones… In India, Goa is where I’m rooted.”
H!: You’ve worked with some great international brands like YSL and Versace. Any favourites?
RS: “I’m a huge fan of simple, minimal styles, like that of YSL, which has maintained its aesthetic over the years. I like Ralph Lauren, too, though I don’t wear them often. For my daily wear, I’m not much of a brand hog. I wear a lot of Zara, H&M and Mango in my usual blacks, browns and nudes… I adore boots! They are part of my signature style. I pair them with all kinds of outfits. And here’s a little secret… I want to build my own brand. It’ll include all these styles, my favourite colour palette… I want to make it personality friendly for people who relate to me.”
Interview: Shraddha Chowdhury; Photos: Charudutt Chitrak; Coordination: Amber Tikari
This has been adapted for the web from a story originally published in the April 2023 issue of HELLO! India. Get our copy of the latest issue right here!