ANOOP BIKRAM SHAHI: MAN OF THE MOMENT
Families with a lineage of army men or police men show tendencies of nudging their sons or daughters toward s a similar line of profession … well in most cases. Anoop Bikram Shahi was born into a family of army and police men, but we know him as the charismatic model/actor and winner of the 2013 Manhunt International Nepal.
Of course that wasn’t always the plan, at least not for his family. While his family presumed that he would enroll into the army or police, Anoop had a penchant for the limelight and dreamt of becoming an actor. Luckily, his family supported him in his unusual choice and after a lot of effort he was cast in the first movie he acted in: Sourya, which was filmed approximately six years ago. However, technically, the first movie that was released starring Anoop was Dravya.
We set up a meeting to get in touch with Anoop at Ne’ Brasserie, a beautiful new restaurant at Naxal. Having seen me come in, he looked up from the tea he was sipping and stood forth extending his hand for a firm handshake. At 6’1”, the well built, charismatic and handsome Anoop Bikram Shahi looked like a proper celebrity/model. And that is as far as I can go without putting a serious dent in my masculinity. He is currently preparing to represent Nepal in the Manhunt International, which is going to be taking place in China. Already the winner of the Manhunt in Nepal and a number of movie roles under his belt, here’s what unfolded when we got to chatting with the man of the moment.
TNM: How did you get into movies?
ABS: The first movie that I worked in was Sourya and I was supposed to be Nepal’s first superhero. That’s how it started. It was something new for me. Although I never took any acting classes, Rajan Upreti Dai who works in theaters, helped me a lot with the technical aspect of things.
TNM: You didn’t take any acting classes? So I take it that acting comes naturally to you?
ABS: To tell you the truth, I am not a very talkative person but I wasn’t really shy either. In my opinion, acting is just translating the words and feelings onto the camera for people to enjoy. Fortunately, where most people might feel reluctant, I feel comfortable in front of the camera.
WHILE ANOOP’S FAMILY ORIGINALLY ASSUMED THAT HE WOULD ENROLL INTO THE ARMY OR POLICE, HE HAD A PENCHANT FOR THE LIMELIGHT AND DREAMT OF BECOMING AN ACTOR.
TNM: Do you recall any moment that you’d consider your big break while getting into the industry?
ABS: I never sat there waiting for something really grand to come along. There are a lot of people who believed in me but because of my family background I never had any prior connections with the movie industry, so there weren’t many who could actually put in a good word or find me a big role right off the bat. It was a gradual ascent, and I am still working my way up. I have been struggling for the past three to four years, and I am still looking for my big break.
TNM: Were your family supportive of your career choice, considering that most army/policemen would choose a more conventional profession for their son?
ABS: They’ve always been supportive. My parents are my backbone and their support has never wavered. When it comes to support, there is someone else who played a pivotal role in who I am trying to become. Although we’re not brothers by blood, Raj Kumar Bhandari kept me on track and encouraged me to persevere and have patience. If it wasn’t for him, I might still have been waiting for big things to come instead of taking initiatives and working hard.
TNM: What are the difficulties you’ve had to face till now?
ABS: Well, I come from a middle class family, so I don’t have all the money in the world to spend. It might sound naïve, but since I am doing what I am doing, I have to keep a certain image and it does not come cheap. I’m going to China for the International Manhunt and things don’t look too bright.
TNM: I take it that obtaining sponsorships is an issue.
ABS: It’s difficult for male models in Nepal. Things like plane tickets and other logistics are being helped with, but getting proper financial support is difficult. I don’t understand what the problem is. I am willing and confident to take the responsibility of representing Nepal in an international platform and hopefully getting to a noteworthy position. But there is only so much I can do without the support from the government. I’m already 28 but there are younger Nepali people who have a lot of potential, and if I get to a good position on an international platform there will be more Nepali men getting there in the future. However, we are lagging in the very initial stages and getting anywhere important is difficult without support from the government. It’s sad that the entire industry is struggling and it’s even worse when the government turns a blind eye to it.
I HAVE BEEN STRUGGLING FOR THE PAST THREE TO FOUR YEARS, AND I AM STILL LOOKING FOR MY BIG BREAK.
TNM: Complexities aside, although it is terribly overdue, congratulations on winning the Manhunt. What does it take to participate and win a title like Manhunt?
ABS: You have to have the desire to win along with the belief and confidence in yourself that you can actually do it.
TNM: On a scale of 1 to 5, how hardworking would you rate yourself as?
ABS: It’s difficult to rate yourself. Well, I give my 100% for the things that I really want to have and achieve. So maybe 3.5, because there is always some room for improvement.
TNM: What is your strongest trait which, according to you, will make you stand out in the International Manhunt?
ABS: Personality is the new sexy today, for both men and women. I will definitely be giving that a lot of attention.
TNM: What are the pros and cons of being in a movie fraternity here in Nepal?
ABS: You get recognition and respect in the nooks and crannies of the country which is a pro. Cons… well, you get to hear bizarre rumors about yourself. But, surprisingly, I have started enjoying that to the core.
TNM: Who is your favourite actor in the Nepalese movie industry?
ASB: Rajesh Hamal dai, the only superstar of Nepal.
TNM: Who is your favourite co-actress and why?
ASB: I have worked with Hema Shrestha for two of the films that I have done: Sourya and Hasiya. And I recently watched RITU where Malina Joshi has done a tremendous job. I would love to work with her as well.
TNM: Do you plan on continuing your career in the acting and modeling industry?
ASB: I’ve been struggling for the past few years and I will give it my all in the coming years. However, if I don’t find myself anywhere fruitful, I won’t kid myself. I want to make the most of my age so that I don’t regret all the missed opportunities when I get older.
TNM: If not an actor/ model, what would you be doing?
ABS: Acting has always been my dream and Modelling as a career, is my passion. If not acting and modeling, I would be working in some organization in Nepal or maybe going abroad.
TNM: How important is grooming and etiquette for you?
ABS: Grooming and etiquette is a part of who you are, not just because people tend to judge you by appearance but because it plays a major role in defining who you are and who you want to become.
TNM: How would you define your ideal woman? What according to you makes a woman sexy?
ABS: I don’t have much of a prerequisite when it comes to pinning down an ideal woman. If she makes me feel loved and special when I’m with her, then that will do. And I think a woman’s expressive eyes have an impact on a woman’s appeal.
TNM: What is your opinion on one night stands?
ABS: It’s not for me, at all. Sex is a beautiful thing and you should respect it and the person you’re with.
I WANT TO MAKE THE MOST OF MY AGE SO THAT I DON’T REGRET ALL THE MISSED OPPORTUNITIES WHEN I GET OLDER
TNM: Sex before Marriage?
ABS: It depends on the relationship. I personally feel that sex before marriage is justified if you plan on getting married with the person in the future.
TNM: Do you prefer women with curves or one who flaunts a size zero?
ABS: Definitely curves.
TNM: What would you want to own in the next 5 years?
ABS: I have quite a few things in mind, and a Range Rover is definitely one of them.
Wardrobe Courtesy: Store One, Atelier, Pozak, In Style, TNM Store
Styled by: TNM Team
Photography: Shashank Pradhan