From seeing models on fashion shows on a big screen to walking the ramp himself, Pranav Bakhshi is breaking stereotypes and proving Autism is his superpower!
When we say Pranav Bakhshi, aka India’s first model with Autism, is a powerhouse of talent, we really mean it. He is an award-winning self-taught photographer, has delivered three TEDx talks, and has represented himself as a self-advocate at prestigious forums like the e-cell initiative of IIT Bombay, Microsoft India, and India Autism at Work’21, and many more. He has worked with major international brands and is just 22 years old! Isn’t that mind-boggling? Keep reading to know his inspiring journey!
Before rocking the ramp walk
Pranav was only 16 when he fell in love with modelling, and after he attended the Velvi Art for Autism festival, he was introduced to ramp walk as a structured activity. After the workshop, Pranav and his mother, Anupama were hanging out in a mall in Delhi, where he saw models on the ramp walking and wanted to be like them. “I saw hoardings and wanted to be like them. Mom said that it would be very difficult and that I would have to work very hard. And I told her that I will”, said Pranav.
After this, he started to train in physical fitness earnestly and became a fitness freak as her mom had mentioned it was a must for becoming a good model. Fond of posing and getting clicked since his childhood already, Pranav was now giving his best and was practicing hard when it came to the same. Seeing his passion, Anupama had also started reaching out to various modelling agencies, and gradually it worked out for them.
The mother-son duo was trying their best, and in 2017, Pranav ended up participating in a walk for the Vevi Festival. A year later, he also took part in a ramp walk for special needs people in Bangalore, and that’s how the journey began for him. These walks helped Pranav master his skills, and he started getting freelancing projects. But the big break for him came when he walked for Benetton, a global fashion brand based in Italy. “It was an awesome experience. I felt so confident and great, and I wanted to do it again and again”, he told Local Samosa.
Not looking back!
After walking for Benetton, new opportunities were opened for Pranav, and since then, he’s not only just walked for brands but also done advertisements for Big Bazaar and FBB. “My latest ramp walk was for Lakme Fashion Week. Each time, I feel so good when I walk to the beats of amazing music. It is an addictive and awesome feeling. There is an excitement I feel while going through auditions, clothes trials, rehearsals, and then the final show. I feel confident and great each time”, he shared.
Not just a model with Autism but a lot more than that!
Pranav is not just a model but is also a self-taught photographer and has even won an award for his work. “I like to go for photo walks to click pictures in series like water series, sunset series, cloud series, and my favourite silhouette series”, he mentioned. Along with this, Pranav is also working with the news agency Thomson Reuters as a Digital Producer-Contractor and has even delivered TEDx speeches thrice.
“I don’t like my speeches to be curated and I like to write them on my own. There are many things I believe in. I have so many ideas, thoughts, and beliefs, and I feel good when I share them. I like it when I receive appreciation and applause. It makes me feel that people believe in what I feel and say, and supports it”, said Pranav.
Pranav was diagnosed with autism when he was just two and also had echolalia(a condition that includes repetition or echoing of words or sounds that you hear someone else say) and anxiety issues. We couldn’t help but ask if it has been challenging and if growing up with Autism was difficult? His response was motivating enough for us to give him a big thumbs up.
“I don’t like to concentrate on challenges. I like to focus on solutions. Everyone has challenges, and we should try to learn how to deal with them. I used to feel anxious, but I learned how to deal with it. I used to write about my anxieties in my anxiety journal and I used to discuss them with my mom. My challenges started to get sorted. I feel great when I am on the ramp”, he said.