Vatika's Bold and Strong Beauty

By Sohini Sen , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | January 15, 2015
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Meet Parull Chaudhry, the bald girl in the Dabur Vatika ad.

It takes immense courage to act out a role that demands you to go against the popular notions of beauty. While a simple thing like a no-make up look can put models into frenzy, very few would have enough guts to play a lady without hair. Delhi girl Parull Chaudhry is one of the few.

Chaudhry's is the confident face you see in the latest Dabur Vatika campaign who plays out a tribute to female cancer survivors. Brought up in Delhi, she has lived in Mumbai and Lagos, Nigeria and wished to be an airhostess because of her love for travelling.

"It was after I finished my hotel management degree from Manipal that I was spotted by fashion photographer Suvo Das. A print ad for Dabur followed, which makes me think that life must have come a full circle. It must be a 'soul-connect' with Dabur," feels Chaudhry.

Parull Chaudhry

Keeping her flying plans on hold, Parull started doing fashion shows and walked the ramp for well-known designers in events like Bridal Asia. Modelling gave her the opportunity to satiate her thirst for travelling, as she went on to represent the country at Miss Tourism International in Malaysia, after becoming the runner up at Gladrags Mega Model 2003. Post the win, Chaudhry received quite a few offers for ads and films. That meant moving to Mumbai and once she did, television followed as the natural next step from modelling.

"I enjoyed modelling, especially all the travel that happened then. I love travelling... but acting was a natural shift even in terms of growth. Now I truly know that this was my calling in life," she says with candour.

After working as the lead antagonist in a couple of successful daily shows like 'Kayamat' (Star Plus), 'Ganga' (Colors), 'Tere Mere Sapne' (Star Plus) and most recently 'Tum Saath Ho Jab Apne' (Sony Pal), Chaudhry received a call to audition for the role of a cancer survivor in the new Dabur campaign. Knowing that it was a social awareness campaign, she agreed to give it a shot and prepared by reading a poem sent across to her from the production team.

"The poem was extremely inspiring and I knew I had to be confident and be someone who has fought and arrived. The casting guy told me that lots of people were ready to shave their head and try for the role. I didn't realize what a big deal it was, till the final look test was done and the creatives came from the agency," she gushes.

Film Farm's promoter Pintoo Guha spotted Chaudhry and recommended her name for the campaign. A two-day shoot followed, with the first day being focused on the print campaign and the second on the TVC. Chaudhry started getting a hang of it on day one and was far more comfortable of her daring role, having understood what was expected of her.

The only way to prepare for the role was to feel the character. She did not watch videos or read up, but tried to feel what a woman might go through if she was jittery and nervous about walking up to her colleagues after having gone through a life altering disease. According to her, the scenes with the on-screen husband and daughter were extremely comfortable but the challenge was to show someone who is nervous at the beginning of the film.

Though in the film one sees a bald woman, Chaudhry, in real life, has her hair intact. The use of prosthetics gave her the look and feel of a survivor. Looking the part, however, was quite challenging with the make-up taking as much as three hours to put on. Taking it off was much harder and painful, because alcohol would have to be used to pry the glue away from the scalp. But, like they say, if you look the part, your work is half done. Maybe it was the look or the way she absorbed the character in her, but she managed to play the emotionally uplifting role, without even using glycerin for the scenes that required her to look teary eyed.

"The final product was so worth it. If needed, I will go through five more days of the painful prosthetic if he film had to be made again! But thankfully we didn't have to. We didn't rehearse too much either, to retain the freshness and natural, impromptu reactions in the campaign. Had I seen videos or films of cancer survivors, I am afraid I would have subconsciously mimicked them," Chaudhry points out.

So what is her plan going forward? Does she see any difference in the way soaps and ad shoots differ? Chaudhry shares her experience of acting 'loud' for television. Every single shot has to be slightly exaggerated for TV, but for the Dabur campaign, everything was kept as subtle as possible. Having done print campaigns for Revlon, Dabur, Maruti and Grasim and TVCs for Dabur and, she wishes to do more ads because it lets her act more.

"I am open to movies with good characters which are performance oriented, though I have been a part of 'Apna Aasman', 'Apartment' and 'Accident on Hill Road'. But I also love the daily soap grind so would want to continue that. Ads give you immense exposure," she concludes.

Seeing the virality of the Dabur video on YouTube (over 65,000 views in less than a week), it can be said that Chaudhry has received the exposure she talks about. What remains to be seen is where she takes it from here.

© 2015 afaqs!