Where often battles must be waged to ensure better life opportunities for women, in the world of glamour, the high heels seem to be winning. Male models in Bangalore must often contend with fewer assignments and lower pays.
Fashion guru Prasad Bidapa who has groomed many a model's career says, the inequality in the industry is known and accepted. "It's just the way the market works. Only 10 per cent of designers work on men's clothing, the rest focus on women as their target clientele. It's only natural that female models will be in greater demand," he says.
Where estimates place the remuneration for top female models at ` 20 to 25,000 per fashion show, the figures hinge at ` 15 to 18,000 for their male counterparts.
"Efforts put in by male and female models may be the same, but there's a lot more that female models have to do during a show, starting from the long make-up sessions. They have about five changes (of clothes) but men average one or two. It's only logical then that they are paid more," says Zoheb Yusuf who started modelling in 2003 and now heads Prasad Bidapa Model Management.
Yusuf's standing advise to aspiring male models has been to always keep another profession going. "Modelling has to be a hobby. Of course, there are those who made it bigger going on from their modelling days like Arjun Rampal, Dino Morea and John Abraham. But if you want to make it big just as a model, then it requires moving to Mumbai or working through an agency that pushes you ahead to bigger assignments even abroad. Even then it's best to have something else to back you up, " he says.
Bangalore boasts of more than 50 top women models, some full-time, but nearly all 35 to 40 top male models are either students or working.
That's not to say the industry is all unforgiving to men. "Male models have a lot of work to look forward to in television and print ad campaigns and for well-established models the pay is on par," says Roshan Issac who has been modelling for ten years now and works as a techie at Bosch.
Things are changing. Bidapa points to designers like Sanchita who give equal importance to their menswear line. Isaac feels there's a lot to explore as actors for male models. He says, "Chennai offers a lot of work in TV for male models, especially with the rising number of grooming products aimed at men, there's increasing scope there. There are movies that one can graduate to, a place where we know that the (fee) scale instantly reverses."