She's Come a Long Way

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Since the day she took that first shaky step onto the ramp, way back in ’96, that once-gawky girl from the Mumbai suburbs, Ujjwala Raut, has come a long way.

She was absolutely raw and awkward that night when she took a lightning shot at the Look of the Year contest, but it appears, she was destined to make a mark.

For she went on to be the unexpected winner that year, and since then, that bean-pole figure has become a familiar silhouette on the catwalk. Today, you see that chiselled, bony face five-foot-tenner everywhere – on the cover of `Elle’ magazine, in numerous photo features and editorials, and most of all, on the ramp, featuring in prestigious shows like Igedo to practically every designer show happening in the country.

The 22-year-old, who was in the city recently, says that she’s by far “too young to make plans.” Carefree and happy-go-lucky, she believes in enjoying life to the fullest and, as she tells you repeatedly, “having fun.” “The best times are the those that we share backstage – someone is always pulling someone else’s leg…or we’re just talking arbit rubbish. You don’t think…It’s just so much fun.” Yet behind the exterior of nonchalance, you discern a mind that does its homework quietly.

There was a dizzying succession of shows this year, she admits, but amidst the chaos she recalls the `Fashion Week’, the Raymonds show, the series of Swarnanjali shows and the Shahab show. “I love doing show that have a touch of drama,” she says,“

And it had all the right elements – great sets, good clothes, fine choreography. And I particularly enjoy straight shows because the concentration never shifts from the clothes.

” Some of her commercials this year included the Miranda ad and Anne French. “I shoot a lot with Farooq Chhotia, and do a lot of shows with Lubna and Asha Vidhyun,” she adds. Ujjawala says she’s a bit of a paradox – she’s both “homely and outgoing. On the home front, her four sisters ensure that there’s never a dull moment when she’s at home.

And then, Ujjwala also likes to party with friends. She loves performing in Mumbai, but Delhi gives her a different kind of thrill. “It’s an uncanny feeling when you open the newspaper and see your picture there. Pune’s also a great place to perform – the response is tremendous.

” Looking back at her tremendous transformation, she says,“I guess modelling has really helped me to open up. I get the feeling I can take care of myself and do what I feel like. And I realise, life is so much fun.”

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