|Vinny's Winning Ways : A Profile of Vaneeza Ahmed|
|by Umbereen Beg Mirza|
But before I have time to scout around more, Vaneeza appears, shower fresh and bare-faced, she complains about a recent haircut and then immediately asks after my sick grandmother- consideration being a trait Vinny has in abundance as I am about to discover.
We quickly race through the routine questions- when, where and how it all began. So, for those of you who didn't already know, Vaneeza returned from Germany at 18, and decided to go to Kinnaird College, as her medical school plans were thwarted by a lack of high school physics. A similar technicality ended hopes of going to NCA after she graduated from K.C. with a bachelor's degree in Psychology. She had started modeling causally while at K.C., and when offers came along, she slipped easily into the model role, with an innate practicality that has served her well over the years. Her modeling career so far has led to fashion shows, print modeling, commercials and now TV dramas. In fact, Vaneeza is currently co-producing a telefilm based on Mohsin Hamid's wonderfully trenchant novel, Mothsmoke. She will also play the role of Mumtaz- the society belle with a difference.
Her decision to become a model is not something that Vaneeza has any regrets over. Over the past seven years, she has been a part of an industry in full throttle. Fashion designers have evolved from Aunties with karigars in their basements, to young, professionally-trained people who know how to cut, and have a strong aesthetic sense. Similarly make-up artists have become conscious of a need for different styles. Fashion photographers today are a different breed than photographers of a decade ago. Cable television has also revolutionized desi society, creating an appetite for a different approach to fashion and entertainment in general. Clearly she has enjoyed the experience, and says that modeling has given her a huge amount of self-confidence and faith in her own abilities. But on the other hand, she knows that the ideal model is nothing more than a canvas for the designer or stylist. And one senses that Vaneeza is ready for more. She has been toying with the idea of retiring from modeling in a year or so.
Her studies in Psychology have not been in vain- she understands that she is a product that must be marketed shrewdly. She agrees to do only a few commercials a year, knowing that she can charge her client that little bit extra for exclusivity. She is also a very hands-on person. Before taking on a project she likes to discuss the entire advertising campaign with her client. She wants to know what type of media would give her the best exposure. Even during photo sessions, she is quite happy to give the photographers suggestions about lighting. Vaneeza even had ideas on how to make this interview more interesting! She suggested that for a true profile it may be more apt to have other people talk about her, rather than let her babble on all day (her words!). However, it's obvious that the controlling aspect of her personality is not about ego. She's not interested in being right, she's interested in delivering a better product- be that a modeling assignment or an interview. That may be an effect of her star sign- Cancer.
She displays several other attributes of Cancer. She is extremely practical and level-headed. She easily admits to not owning any designer clothes (except for the ones that are gifts) as they're too expensive. Rather than buying Gucci and Prada shoes, she preferred to buy an apartment, and an about-to-be-acquired-at-any-moment car. On her frequent trips to places as exotic as Poland and Malaysia, she only picks up things for her house. In fact, Vinny is quite a homebody, often opting to stay at home with a few close friends, her pregnant cat and a trio of goldfish, rather than mingling with the Karachi crowd. Although she's hardly a recluse - the phone rings incessantly while I'm there, and friends, including Ali Azmat, keep popping their heads into the room to know if she's done yet.
Vinny is supremely self-assured and well-adjusted. She knows who she is and is comfortable with that. She has no issues about walking into Gulf plaza in her jeans and sleeveless shirt, or of going to weddings in her belly-baring saris. If some man's going to lust after her bare arms or bare midriff, that's his problem as far as Vinny is concerned. On the topic of men, Vinny has little to say. If the right one comes around at the right time, that's fine, if not, that's fine too. But she is convinced that she will give up working once she is married. She strongly believes in the stay-at-home-mom. Oh, and in case you're wondering about the books on feminism, they were her contribution to celebrating International Women's Day.
Although she denies any feminist tendencies, Vaneeza truly believes in the independent woman. She's grateful for the freedom that her modeling career has given her, and believes it's a great way for other young women to achieve self-reliance and confidence. She also says that the industry is actually quite a "clean" one. Although she feels that many parents may hesitate before letting their daughters have their turn in front of the camera for precisely the independence that modeling confers. "Look at me", she says, "twenty-nine, not married, living by myself, I must be a parent's worst nightmare." But looking at Vaneeza curled up on her sofa, letting her hair dry naturally in the sea breeze, admitting to calling her mother to solve servant problems, never wanting to leave Pakistan, except maybe to live in New York-she seems the very picture of wholesomeness.