“My sister is 10 years older than me and my mother often says I was a mistake but a beautiful mistake right,” quips Pragya with a laugh. Pragya Bhandari is the new face in the modelling industry in Nepal and is creating ripples for her bold looks, utter professionalism and a thorough sense of style. The Dharan-based model started her career with a photo shoot for a clothing brand. Celebrated model Aastha Pokharel noticed her and gave her a break in 2019. There has been no looking back for the dusky 20 year old since. She has recently been signed by an Indian agency and has set her sights on the international modelling scene.
Pragya however calls herself a small-town girl. “I grew up in Dharan where I learnt to enjoy the simple things in life,” she says. “I used to watch models on television shows and would replicate their looks and walk like them,” she reflects. But Dharan could not hold the size of her ambitious dreams which had Pragya come to the capital in pursuit of her goals.
In a tête-à-tête with WOW’s Ankita Jain, Pragya talks about the fashion industry, her love for modelling, and what makes her life meaningful. Excerpts:
For someone coming from a two-tier city, with no connections and no real links to the world of fashion, what has the journey been like?
Fortunately, it wasn’t as tough. I used to come to Kathmandu once or twice a year to do shoots, and my social media presence also helped. These days social media accounts work as business cards. I knew Kathmandu was always my calling and here I am living my life to the fullest.
Many girls in the fashion and film industry start their career with beauty pageants; did you ever think of participating in a pageant?
I had participated in one of the beauty pageants when I was 16 after my SEE and fortunately, I won it. I was JCI MISS SEE 2019 and the second runner up in Miss Teen Nepal 2019. However, I won’t say it gave a start to my career. I was just curious about pageants in the country. Over time, I have realised that modelling is my thing and I am now only focused on it.
What have been your greatest learnings as part of the modelling industry?
For the past one year, I have worked to enhance my facial expressions, my ramp walk and more. I am learning model work ethics. Punctuality is super important and communication is very crucial. I am an introvert by nature so I need to work on my communication skills more.
Modelling is often a short career, what are your thoughts?
I would say “now is the time”. I often live by the quote “Day one or one day, you decide”. I am passionate about modelling and that’s the only thing I have wanted to do all my life.
Can modelling be a mainstream career option in Nepal?
In Nepal the market is still growing. To make a living out of modeling as a career is still tough here. Exploring modeling internationally would definitely work better as a career because the industry is enormous.
What can the modelling industry do better?
Professionalism is still growing. Most times, the team is late. Maybe work on punctuality and payments on time.
You are praised for your presence on the ramp, where did you learn it?
I am actually a self-learner. I scrutinise the little mistakes I do on the runway and always learn and give it my best to improve. I am grateful to two of my mentors, Aastha Pokharel and Abhimanyu Singh Tomar for polishing me.
Are you shifting your base to India?
I want to explore myself in every way possible in the field. Now I have shifted to India and it’s been amazing. For the coming years, maybe I would be doing casting and shoots and hustling in the States.
What has been your most cherished memory so far?
I would say walking in Nepal Fashion Week. Being in Dharan I used to see the videos of models walking in TGIF and imagine myself walking the ramp. Also, my first magazine cover with WOW.
Travelling and running from city to city on modelling assignments. Now I am going back and forth between India and Nepal. I am also working harder for bigger projects.
How do you stay fit?
I work out five times a week and avoid oily food.
Any DIY beauty recipes you follow? What is your skincare routine?
I don’t follow any DIY because of my acne prone skin. My skin care basically consists of double cleansing, moisturizing and sunscreen.
Models who inspire you:
Aastha Pokharel, Romee Stridj
Any hidden talent:
Can drink coffee and fall asleep
A misconception people have about you:
Because of my reserved nature, they assume that I am arrogant
Favourite activity to do in Nepal:
Song on loop:
Superman by Eminem and Dina Rae
Vogue Magazine and Lakme Fashion Week
A hashtag to describe your current state of mind:
Glitter lips –
yay or nay? YAY
If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
Letting myself be expressive
Favourite online store:
Nepwears.online and Zara
A song title to describe your last relationship:
What a plot twist you were
A trait that annoys you the most:
Someone invading my private life
If you could create your own degree, what would you hold a Master’s in?
Cover Girl: Pragya Bhandari @pragyabhandarii
Concept & Interview: Ankita Jain @jain.anki
Photographer: Suzan Shrestha @suzan_shots
HMUA: Nilima Basnet @nilimabasnet
Stylist: Marcos Blenden @marcos_blenden @styleguide_by_blenden
Wardrobe: @kayadesigns, @xenycollections