Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ujjwala Raut

Ujjwala Raut: Life after motherhood

We caught up with international model Ujjwala Raut at the Hilton Towers, Mumbai, where she is staying with film producer hubby Craig Maxwell Sterry and their three-month old baby. Ujjwala is in India for the Fashion Week, marking her comeback to modelling after a gap of three years.

Born and brought up in Dahisar, Mumbai, this girl's big break came when she was just 17. She won the Look Of The Year award at the 1996 Miss India pageant, and things just changed overnight. Today, she has an enviable portfolio, thanks to her coming under the international spotlight after walking the ramp for Manuel Angaro and Tomford. She has also campaigned for Angelo Tarazzi, Paco Rabanne, Veronique Leroy, Claude Montana and Chanel, among many other Indian and international brands.

At 5 feet 10 inches, she has long mastered the art of carrying herself well. She also comes across as approachable and down to earth, making no bones about being an international model. So, when we asked her for tips on childcare and coping with those tricky post-pregnancy months, she obliged.

On losing baby fat

"I was always skinny, and never exercised. Back then it was difficult to do even ten crunches as my stomach would hurt. I weighed 49 kilograms before my pregnancy, after which I shot up to 70 kilograms. So, in order to walk the ramp this week, I had to lose a lot of weight and look fit. I have seen so many Hollywood stars and women in New York lose weight barely two months after pregnancy. I told myself, if they can do it, so can I.

After a customary rest period of six weeks post pregnancy, I took up a strenuous fitness regime. I worked for two hours daily, for 4-5 days a week, with my instructor in New York. We did an hour of kickboxing to tighten my stomach muscles. We also religiously followed a schedule of an hour of cardio. The more you sweat, the faster you lose weight, but one should take care about not getting dehydrated."

On her diet

"My husband has been very careful with my diet. Potatoes, pasta, rice and fried food are a strict no-no for me. I eat 4-5 small meals a day. There is no point eating two big meals as it slows the metabolism rate. I eat muffins and a small slice of cake, as I am breastfeeding, fruits and an omelette for breakfast. During the day, I eat lots of high protein food like steamed vegetables and chicken.

I don't drink a lot of juice, but I eat fruit right through the day. Water intake at regular intervals is also a must and I sometimes drink decaffeinated tea. I now weigh 59 kilograms."

On skin care

"My hormones went crazy post pregnancy and I had a lot of pimples. Again, water and fruits did the trick. My favourite beauty product is a pink blush by Giorgio Armani. It gives the cheeks a baby pink colour. I also use a rosebud lip balm.

Other tips I could suggest include getting a facial done at least once a month. Also, try a papaya mask or some natural mask that suits your skin. Apply lotion on your skin every time you wash your face. Skin should not be left without lotion as it tends to dry. Also scrub it regularly, as this helps remove dirt, black heads and white heads. I sleep a lot and can drop off anywhere. Other than that, I only use make-up remover and moisturiser. But it’s not just about being pretty, I now have the confidence,” she stresses.

On her acting dreams

"I am taking acting classes for the first time in NY and it's quite a different experience altogether. It's so different from modelling, where we just need to look gorgeous without saying a word. Acting is much more difficult. I aim to act in films overseas and would consider Indian films too, if something worthwhile came up."

On her assets

"Photographers around the world love my never-ending legs. I wish my nose were a bit straighter though."

On the Indian fashion scene

"I think Wendell Rodricks is one designer who takes his collection to another level. He knows his mind and is confident with his offbeat ideas and garments. I think Acquin Pais is very hot, and has a great body.

To make it internationally, Indian models need to know that the focus should be on the clothes, not on them. They need to know how best to display the clothes without resorting to any drama on stage. There is so much competition that if you have an attitude, a designer or the organisers can drop you and take someone else. Men don't need to have pumped up arms and huge chests, because that looks unreal. They might as well be into weigh lifting than modelling!"

On her baby

She has been such a good baby. She doesn't give me any trouble at all. My husband has been very supportive, babysitting while I am doing the show here. My mother and younger sister are a great help too."

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