Vikas Mahendroo

“There’s no logic when it comes pursuing your dreams.” – Vikas Mahendroo

The first time I interviewed Vikas Mahendroo, the model had just returned from the Mr. Globe competition. Back then, he had some solid advice for budding models, “…believe in yourself, and always be positive.” Acting upon his own guidance, Mahendroo has done just that. One of his most charismatic traits is his nonstop upbeat attitude and everlasting smile. His voyage into the modeling world may have been by pure chance, but luck was definitely on his side. He quickly trotted the ramp vying for the crown of Mr. Globe, Mr. International and Mr. Universe. Winning great praises and acclaim, he returned minus the laurels but richer in confidence and many other exclusive titles to his name. However, ask me and if Vikas was a Mr. Men character, he would definitely be Mr. Cheerful. Stick around as the hunky model gives Roshni Magazine the lowdown on beating life’s intricacies and staying happy.

Mr. Globe, Mr. International and more recently, Mr. Universe. How has the journey been?
The journey has been full of life, adventure and experiences. It’s been great, I’ve learned a lot, seen quite a few places, met people from distant places and cultures, and made some wonderful friends. What started as a hobby now is a passion.

What is your favorite memory from the Mr. Universe competition?
(Thinks) My favorite memory… The whole experience in itself was amazing, great people, very tough competition but all fun. I have to say my favorite moment was when I was awarded Best National Costume and Mr. Congeniality. It felt great to have represented my country and actually win something which is not about my physical features but about my country, where I come from and something I truly believe in. There were some amazing costumes in the show, but for me to get best costume made me feel really proud as an Indian.

What questions were you asked by the judges?
There were actually three interesting questions. The first was, if I could go in a time machine and go back in time, to see my grandfather as a child, what advice would i give him and why? I answered; if I was to be able to do that then I would tell my grand father to be a little broad and open-minded. We come from a very structured society, and we are supposed to be doctors, lawyers, engineers. My father was an exceptional painter and did wanted to pursue his dream of being a painter but my grandfather insisted on him being an engineer, and my father did so.  He had a great life but I believe he could’ve done bigger and better things in life if only he was allowed to pursue his dreams. So I will tell my grand father to let his kids be what they want to be, help them to get there, putting the burden of our dreams on our children is not necessarily a smart idea.

The second question was if there was one thing about the Indian culture that I could preserve what it would be and why? My answer was, the thing would be the strength and belief in our relationships. Once we [as Indians] commit to a person or a relationship, [we] will do everything and anything to save it before we say quit. A lot of people from other parts of the world give up too easily and too soon, that’s why the divorce ratio is so high and kids are without their parents. But we as Indians try to work it out, live with it if we have to, hoping it would get better with time and only give up when there’s nothing left to try. I’m proud of this culture and will keep it forever.

And the last question asked by one of the judges was “I’ve seen u for last week, and every time I see you, you are happy and smiling. What’s the secret of your always Indian attitude? I laughed, and answered, well, I believe life is a blessing, I'm very fortunate to do wt i want to do, very fortunate to be healthy and alive, lucky to be here amongst you beautiful people representing my country, very very fortunate to have a loving family. So i don't have enough reasons to be negative, and have more than enough reasons to be happy. There is so much sadness around that a little positiveness could help people a lot. I can’t help everyone with what they need, but maybe my smiling face or positive attitude could bring a smile on their face and make their day a better one.

How cutthroat is such a competition?
The competition was great and it was held in a very professional manner. The contestants were ready, mentally and physically. It was tough but fun. Everyone was there representing their respective countries, so the stakes were high. It was done in the right spirit.

How was the last pageant different from the first?
I felt much more confident and well prepared. I also felt that I do belong here and it was no coincidence that i did the first one. And of course, this business is about contacts, marketing yourself and exposure, so the more you do, the better it is.

What changes have you seen in yourself over the past few years?
I would say, I’ve grown as a person, started to understand complexities of life better…and learnt to take no for an answer as a positive. I’ve also looked beyond the obvious. There’s a whole new side to life; it’s all about fashion, glamour, and such things, but it still remains about keeping our integrity and values because character is what matters at the end.

Is Bollywood a possible option soon?
Sure! Bollywood is always an option. It all depends on when and where that door will open. I am certainly doing all I can on my end, the rest is up to the Almighty.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
(Laughs) I play tennis, watch movies and cricket, talk to my family and friends.

Keeping the current economic recession in mind, would you advise any potential model to quit their day job and pursue their dream?
There’s no logic when it comes pursuing your dreams. If you feel it in your gut, you have to go for it. I’m not saying to be irresponsible and just quit your job but average efforts only bring average results. The problem is we want to be like John Abraham but can’t go to gym six days week or say no to pizza. So we dream big but effort is very small. Only you know how bad you want it, and if you want it that bad, then you will figure out a way to get there.

What is your inspiration to strive forward?
My inspiration is my family. I would love to do something which will make family feel proud of me. If I’ll be able to do something in life which will have a positive impact on my loved ones lives and i would be able to contribute anything good to their existing lives, I will feel accomplished.

How do you stay positive?
Being positive is once again a state of mind and how u look at things. I feel fortunate to be alive, healthy, have a loving family, great friends and fortunate to have the freedom to pursue my dreams. There are more than enough reasons to be happy, never enough negatives to be sad. You know things could always be worst and in reality they are not as bad as we think they are.

What stereotype that is associated with models, do you believe or know is completely wrong?
That models have no brains, or they are all about looks, and personality doesn’t matter. That’s not true. For you to be successful at anything, it takes overall personality. Looks can only get you in, but if you want to be there for long, only personality can make it happen.

Why did you choose to pursue modeling in America as opposed to modeling in India where you could have possibly been more successful?
Well it wasn’t planned that way. I just happen to do a pageant with Jinder (Chauhan) two years ago here in L.A., that’s how it all started. So it wasn’t really an option to work in India as a model. I’m open and if i get work to do, I would love to go back home and do something good.

What is next on the agenda?
Next is to keep knocking on that door, working hard, working out, keeping fit, look for right representation and do some good meaningful work. I will do what I can and rest is up to god. We will see what I am destined for.

And by now, you’ve definitely gained some fans, what is your message to them?
My message is be positive, always smile. There’s enough negativity and sadness in this world already so if you can help with a little positivity and optimism, it will help a lot. Never give up you dreams, that’s what we live for…without a goal there’s no destination.

~Roshni M.
(July 2009)

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