Half Hour With Mushk Kaleem
Where are you from and how did you start modelling?
I was born, raised and bred in Karachi, and since I’ve always been really tall, I decided to take a shot at modelling. About four years ago I was studying for my undergrad and working for a well-known brand, when Tabesh from Nabila’s discovered me and convinced me to model. I took up his offer in December 2017, and that’s how I stepped into the industry. The rest is history.
What was your first big break in the industry?
My first big break, was also one of my first big modelling assignments– I did a campaign with Sunsilk in collaboration with Khaadi where I did a shoot for all of their fashion edition bottles. That’s how people took notice!
What is your dream modelling job?
My dream modelling job, hands down, the VS show, or maybe even landing a Vogue cover. I’ve always believed that I’m limitless. So it’s always go big or go home.
What are your most and least favourite things about the job?
My most favourite thing is the money since it is a well-paid job! Also the pride and satisfaction that comes with seeing myself on a billboard. It’s one of the most elevating feelings in the world. The worst is the delay in the clearance of our payments and often waiting months for our hard-earned money— also the notoriety attached to modelling.
When you’re not working, what are some of your favourite things to do?
When I’m not working, I’m either chilling at home, watching documentaries, spending time with my cat Lilo and my two baby brothers. Also, I’m obsessive about cleanliness so I’m almost always just cleaning my apartment whenever I have time.
If you weren’t a model, what would you want to do?
A criminal defense lawyer!
What is one of the most interesting/ fun shoots you have ever done?
I did a shoot in Kel, Arrang Kel, Kashmir last June. It was exhilarating to be in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The cherry on top, the campaign was called ‘Mushk’ by Zara Shahjahan.
What is it like to be a model in Pakistan? Did you ever have to face any kind of discrimination?
I thoroughly enjoy modelling and I wake up every day, excited, to do what I do. The industry can be tough to deal with sometimes, for example, I’ve been told that my skin is too dark to do lawn, I’ve been told that people can’t risk getting hate comments on their shoots so they’ll have to ‘brighten’ my skin tone to make me look ‘appropriate.’ Some people are still stuck in their primitive mindsets with colour. I’ve faced that, but I’m willing to believe that we can change – this industry is progressing day by day so I’m optimistic about the future.
Models are constantly bombarded with fears about being ‘too old’. How have you found the process of ageing and modelling?
That is one thing I seriously do not understand. It’s beyond me. I believe in embracing age, with grace. It’s a natural process and it’s how the world works. So yeah, can’t really comment on that.
What are your future plans? Is acting on the cards?
For sure! I’ve done theatre at the Karachi Arts Council under the direction of NAPA directors. In the
future I may try my luck at it, but right now, I’m wholly invested in modelling.
How do you stay in shape?
Well, I run. Regularly. Trust me, a little cardio goes a long way. I eat anything and everything. But I burn it out by running and brisk walking.
Where is your favourite place to travel?
I haven’t travelled much, but I would love to go to Singapore.
What is your all-time favourite movie and why?
The Pursuit of Happyness! Nothing starts the waterworks like that movie.
Who do you consider your style icon?
I’ve my own style, minimal and basic. I’d probably say a mix of Kendal Jenner and Joan Smalls.
Best advice you have ever received?
I felt like Frank Underwood, from House of Cards was speaking to me when he said: ‘For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: hunt or be hunted.’