About Shamita Singha-
Shamita Singha – The person behind the Arc Lights…
Shamita is an Animal Rights Crusader, Supermodel, VJ, TV Anchor and now a Mentor and Trainer for aspiring Models. She dons many hats, and her crown as Femina Miss Earth India in 2001, is the Diamond among them!
She’s modeled for brands like Levis’ and Electrolux, walked the ramp for Manish Malhotra and Ritu Kumar but more significantly, she’s a trustee on the Animal Welfare Board of India and supports the Nature & Animal Care Foundation.
Interestingly, she’s a Wine enthusiast and a Certified Wine Taster! More on that in the conversation below….
Me : Hi Shamita, thank you so much for sparing the time to speak with me. Guess the lockdown’s been an unprecedented tough period, so how are you dealing with it?
SS : Hey Anirudh, yes finally! Well it’s been over four months and initially it was really hard for me, just like it was for everybody else, to soak in. To just let the fact seep in that this has happened. The entire World is in Lockdown. Initially, for the first couple of weeks, it felt like the summer holidays or a vacation, but after that it got a little tough, you know, that your entire everyday work routine has changed.There is no work, you’re at home. your help couldn’t, obviously, make it to your house, so you are pretty much doing everything. Started doing housework from the grassroot level…
Initially it was tough to accept, but slowly I took it in my stride. Doing a lot things I couldn’t do before. I was cooking a lot, reading a lot… I did NOT spend my whole time on Netflix like pretty much everyone else did. I actually did a lot of other activities like cooking, reading, doing some Online courses on Wine, because I study Wine. Reading a lot of Cookbooks, trying new recipes, spending a lot time with my cat at home and of course, I did watch a few Netflix series but I was more busy doing household stuff.
Then I got used to it over the next couple of months. I was doing Yoga on my terrace, doing workouts through YouTube videos at home. It was a big shift in lifestyle like it was for everybody. I had some bitter-sweet moments, some very relaxed moments and I had some tough moments as well. Not being able to travel, see friends & family… So, yeah, lot of mixed emotions but lot of people have come out of it pretty strong, have come out of it strong and gearing up to start working again. After a nice 4-5 months break, it feels good and energizing to get back into the World again!
Me : Yeah, so true… You are a highly successful model and now a Trainer, but what is the story behind your decision to take up Modeling as a Career?
SS : It wasn’t very planned, to be very honest… I was in college and I wanted to become an Air-Hostess because I love to travel. Then my father suggested that I take part in Miss India as I’m pretty tall and he was very keen that I should take part in a Beauty Pageant.
My father was very liberal and open-minded because he had travelled the World and he brought his daughter as equals – they could be sons OR daughters equally.We really didn’t have any major restrictions. He suggested that I try out for Miss India – it would be good grooming and a great experience in life.
I applied for Miss India, got selected, and of course, I won the title of Miss India Earth and went on to represent India at Miss Earth and when I came back from there, I had a lot of Brand Campaigns and shoots lined up for me.Then I just took to Modelling because I had a lot of work, designers wanting me to walk for their shows. So, I just became a full-time Model so it just happened by chance. My father suggested I get into a Beauty Pageant, and the rest, as they say, is History!!
Me : That’s wonderful…Many may not be aware but you are a certified Wine Taster and Trainer. What is your opinion about Indian Wines? If you were to choose one, which one would call the best Indian wine?
SS : Yes, I have been studying Wine as a Hobby and a Passion! I find the World of Wine very intriguing – from the soil, the climate, the viticulture, to the way the grapes are grown, Different types of grapes, how the wine is made and how different countries and different regions make different types of Wines. I decided to study it and I have been studying it in bits and parts, every time I get some time off and hopefully someday, I will become a certified Sommelier! I’m working towards it.
To be very honest, I’m not a big fan of Indian Wines, yet. I feel, we have a long way to go to reach a point where we can make a mark on the World Map of Wine. We don’t feature on the World Wine Map yet, as recognised Wines from all over the World. Hopefully, someday we will.
I prefer Indian Whites to the Reds, to be honest. I find the Sula Riesling to be fairly good. Other than Indian, I drink and taste a lot of imported Wines. From the European region, Italian Wines are my favourite and from the New World Region (the New World Countries). Australian Wines are my favourites!!
Me : What about Shamita does the World not know? One niggling trait that you always try to rectify?
SS : Ha ha, I like this question! The world does not know everything about me, as I’m a very very private person. The persona I wear outside is very different from who I am inside the house.. At home, I’m a very domesticated person, I love housekeeping, I love cooking. I like being a homebody and domesticated.
I am very house proud, always looking after my house and things, doing household stuff. Outside, of course, I like to dress up – good clothes, good shoes, with my hair and make-up done… be this model/pageant trainer, Ambassador of sorts. I’m a very different person outside…
As far as a trait is concerned, that I’d like to rectify, is that sometimes I have a short fuse. I blow my fuse quite quickly sometimes and that is something I’m trying to control and rectify. It’s been sort of an ongoing endeavour to rectify that and I have been able, to a very large extent, to achieve that.
It’s just that I don’t have patience for mediocrity, don’t have patience for anything average, so that’s why i blow a fuse quite quickly! that’s the only thing I’m trying to rectify.
Me : Well said Shamita! now, next – In your world, what makes you smile and what scares you the most?
SS : I’m a very simple person in terms of living and by heart, so all the small, simplest of things, make me smile! Kindness mae smile, compassion to animals makes me smile. Chivalry, being polite, just having good manners – makes me smile. A kind-hearted person, soft in nature – if I come across such a person, then that makes me smile!!
I’m a very social person. so being alone scares me the most! Losing my family for any reason scares me. I’m a very loyal person, I share very strong bonds & relationships with my family and friends – the close ones. To not have them in my life anymore or lose them for some reason really scares me…
Me : Yeah, that’s our biggest fear, isn’t it… Ok, next – You are also quite active against Animal Cruelty, what would you like to tell this millennial generation to sensitize them about the issue?
SS : Yes, I’ve been an animal rights activist from a very young age. i have always tried to spread the word, spread the awareness on how being kind to animals is so important. In today’s day and age, it’s not just only to animals, to our environment, to nature, to our Mother Earth…
To give a message to today’s youth, I’d say that it’s becoming a very hard, pressing issue now where we really need to pull up our socks and straighten out our act in terms of living an environmentally friendly life. It could be small things like saving water and electricity. It could be little things like using recyclable products only. Banning plastics, using only products made from Bamboo, so that there’s no more deforestation, because it all starts from deforestation.
Respecting our wildlife, letting them be where they’re meant to be. We shouldn’t be encroaching into their homes so that they don’t encroach into our homes. It’s very simple, if we just live and let live – kind of life – then together as a whole, we can make a big difference to big issues like Global Warming, helping our environment.
I’d like to address/advise the youth of today to be aware of what you eat and drink – what you put inside your system. Most of the processed and packaged foods have a lot of preservatives and synthetics in them, which nobody needs. If you want to lead a healthy life and be youthful always – eat fresh, wholesome food, be Vegan, be vegetarian. Eat foods that Mother Earth gives you to eat and lets not take away any life for the sake of our taste-buds or our sensual gratification…
Me : So true, Shamita… Now for the next one…The Beauty Pageants aren’t only about superficial beauty, but also about grace, dignity, poise, smartness and a lot of brains. How do you prepare the Pageant aspirants for the ordeal ahead of them?
SS : You’re right, Beauty Pageants are not only about external beauty anymore. It’s a whole package, of external and internal beauty and brains. It’s about being a good, large hearted person, being kind and intelligent. A package, where, you’re groomed enough to face the world on big global platforms. Talk about pressing issues of the world, add your opinions to the conversation. Actually do Social Work to help people who are lesser privileged than you are. Spread awareness about good causes, about goodness in life. Whether it’s through Social Media or just through your actions everyday. So it’s an overall package to become a Beauty Queen!
How I train my girls – because I’ve been a Pageant contestant myself in the past, and I’ve trained many girls in the recent past, and sent them off to Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss United Continents, Miss Super-national, Miss Grand International etc. I’ve been able to train all these girls who go for such pageants, easily. I always stress on the fact that beauty is not a big separator, there could be one more beautiful girl than the other at these pageants.
External beauty is very easy to have and nowadays you can make external beauty happen through surgeries, injections and needles. All that is available in the market today. It’s not all about external beauty anymore, it’s all about who you are as a human being, as a person and how you make use of this external beauty. You can make use of this external beauty in not very correct ways or you can make use of it brilliantly to promote goodness and awareness to different topics that are going to change and influence the World.So it’s about how you use it. It’s about having poise, having dignity, about dressing well and looking good and it’s also about doing good. To do good, you need to study a lot, read a lot, you need to be intelligent. You need to be able to talk and answer qustions intelligently. You need to participate in every thing and how to foray and forge ahead as a leader – that is what I teach my girls…
Me : Wow. that’s so inspiring!! Next one – If you were elected as the Animal Welfare Minister of India, what would be your action plan?
SS: Hmmm… First of all, I would go on a spay & neuter drive all over the country for all our stray cats and dogs which meansto get every single cat or dog neutered or spayed so that they cannot reproduce anymore. The main issue is when there are too many stray puppies and kittens on the roads, lot of them die, lot of them are sick and not looked after etc. etc. So first thing would be to spay or neutercats and dogs of the country.
Second I’d open more animal shelters in each city, where our sickly and injured animals can be looked after.Government funded Animal Shelters, yeah, I’d love to do that. I’d start a campaign or a drive to collect more money in a fund to open more shelters.
I’d love to have the payscales of the vets of this country to improve so that the Vets of this country take more interest in treating animals as well as future generations will study and become Vets, if the payscales become better. We need more Vets in the country for our animals for sure!
There are many things to do, I don’t know how many to say… I’d love to do a lot for the Wildlife of this country. Laws would have to become stricter, for protecting our Wildlife. Laws are needed to protect our domestic animals, strays and other animals in our cities as well.If they are harmed, if they are hurt, attacked or killed, laws against doing all that should be much, much stricter. People should live in fear that they shouldn’t be harming voiceless, defenceless and innocent animals. Those are some of the few things I’d like to do for our animals…
Whoa, that was such a refreshingly enriching session for me! Thank you again Shamita for this wonderful interaction, hope to catch up with you again sometime soon!! All the best for your future endeavors….
**Keep watching this space for many such interesting conversations!!**