If you have been raised listening to the adage that ‘beauty is only skin deep’, then Veet Miss Super Model will be an unwelcome reality check busting all such preconceived notions. Contrary to the metaphor, VMSM is the ultimate battle of poses, pouts and the perfect pace, where every jaw line is scrutinized to the extent that even you as a viewer will be left with a bit of a complex. The 2014 season was wrapped up last week, in a star-studded finale, which you will witness once it hits the airwaves.
Seemingly based on international reality shows like America’s Next Top Model and The Face with more than just a touch of desi, a handful of original spins and quite a bunch of loose ends, the show as always continued to be a ray of hope for aspiring fashion models, but in terms of the entertainment factor this season failed to pack a punch. Given that it is after all more of an influenced reality show (where objectivity interferes with what is really ‘real’), it had enough leeway to add a dose of emotion and thrill in the framework.
Unlike earlier seasons, the latest went through a change of format or better yet, shifted its underlying inspiration from ANTM to The Face by becoming a ‘gurukul’ of sorts, where a group of models was given a mentor each and a series of mini challenges to encounter. However, in its aspiration to become different, the thrilling modeling competition that it once was became merely a game show at best. And given that ANTM has had a trail of religious fans for over 11 years, it would have remained a good format for the local version to stick to. That was the case when Freiha Altaf was at the helm of affairs but the current season was all over the place, just like its contestants.
Nevertheless, VMSM 2014 can be deemed interesting, simply for the lack of other similar programs that make one woman’s beauty compete with the other. But it was not exciting or crisp enough. The fact that the auditions were hurried-up in merely one episode from Karachi to Lahore to select a handful of 25 girls gave an impression that perhaps there weren’t as many contestants participating in the first place and hence, the season fell short of building anticipation for future episodes.
We would have stayed interested in the outcome of one contestant, Sara Farid, who ran out of a challenge, crying but her fate succumbed to bad editing. We were taken from Episode 3 to 4 with only hints of backstage aggression and a fellow contestant’s revelation that Sara has in fact quit the show because she felt she was better than her opponent in the challenge. It would have worked to play that controversy up a bit.
The entire selection process also displayed a muted sense of inexperience (of the judges). VMSM had more credibility when it was managed by an ex-super model (Frieha Altaf) and a top notch stylist (Nabila). Though the three mentors of the current season – Amna Ilyas, Sabina Pasha and Cybil Chowdhry – made for glamorous eye candy, they too fell short. Wiqar Ali Khan as host of the series was as puzzling as his Urdu accent. While people from the metropolises are pretty used to Anglocized, mixed bilingual accents, it seems non-relatable for the masses especially considering that most of the contestants came from an Urdu-speaking class; that language of instruction should have been fluid.
As far as the contestants are concerned, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that nearly 90 percent of them lacked the basic qualities of a good model and evidently required more than just this show to groom them to acceptable standards. This shed light on the fact that either Pakistan has no tall, beautiful girls who aspire to be models or simply that the show was unable to discover and recruit them.
The highlight of this season, one feels, was the muffled but very visible cold war between Sabina Pasha (who haughtily kept reminding everyone that she had worked for ‘Oscar-winning’ designers, unlike any of her contemporaries; we’re still trying to figure that out) and Amna Ilyas (who cared more about a model’s ‘bindaas’ attitude than her facial features and made it clear that she was too cool to think like Sabina). Clearly, the two were embroiled in a showdown of their own; Cybil set a good example of humility by focusing more on grooming her models than proving her own worth. The fact that Cybil concentrated more on the process than the outcome is probably the reason why her contestant took the crown.
Yes, we know who the winner is and surely many of you do too because the grand finale was held last week and despite many appeals to keep the winner’s name under wraps (until the finale is televised) word got out. As for the ceremony, it suffered from a bit of an identity crisis. While models were judged on photo shoots and runway walks, the finale saw the three finalists being put to test with a bunch of questions. Can we remind VMSM that this was a model hunt not a beauty pageant? Models are not required to have the solution for world peace!
In a nutshell VMSM was a dignified attempt to give aspiring models in Pakistan a decent and credible platform to rise on but it was hurting for a dose of cutting-edge drama and balanced editing to be dubbed a truly engaging TV show for the viewers.