Asif Azim: From Meherpur to Mumbai and all around!
"I wanted to be a model since my teenage days," confesses Asif with a grin when asked. Yes I'm talking about Asif Azim, one of Bangladesh's pioneering ramp models. And we tracked down this six-foot-one Piscean to tell us a little about how he got on to most of Dhaka's billboards.
Azim grew up in Meherpur. A small town boy with big dreams, he moved to Dhaka to study Economics at the University of Dhaka. It was during his second year in university when he went to a store opening to see if he could have an audience with designer Bibi Russell. Her words of advice? Finishing his education, because without it, she said, he wouldn't get too far. He took her words as a mantra while allowing himself to do small modelling jobs for clothing stores such as Altamira (2001). But once he completed his Bachelors, Azim started to train rigorously under the eye of Russell.
His first big break came in 2002 when he landed a ramp rig with Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee who was having a show in Dhaka. He then caught the eye of South African photographer Neo Ntsoma who was in town for a documentary photo shoot. Ntsoma's photographs of Azim appeared in Parisian magazine Saolo (2002) and they also made their way to Unitrend.
Till that point, Azim had been very selective about doing editorial shoots or any sort of product campaigns, because he felt he couldn't give it enough time. But when Unitrend approached him with a campaign for Siemens (2002), he wisely agreed. The Siemens ad led to the Aktel campaign (2003) and that is exactly how he landed on most of the billboards in town!
After the Aktel job, he became a full-fledged ramp model. Meanwhile, he started getting a lot of offers to do commercials, editorial shoots and even movies but he didn't take them up because he wanted to do quality work.
In 2004, he went to India to shoot a commercial for Aarong where he was exposed to more people in the media. He got further offers but still didn't take any of them. He then met style and fashion guru Prasad Bidappa who saw a lot of potential in him and asked him if he was interested in spreading his horizon as far as India. At that time not being well acquainted with Bidappa's work, he didn't take the offer seriously. Instead, he went to Australia for a BGMEA show. Then during the model screening of the first Bangladesh Fashion Week, he ran into Prasad Bidappa again. Once the Fashion Week was over, Azim went to Spain for yet another fashion show.
In the meanwhile, he kept Bidappa's offer in mind. Upon returning to Dhaka, he decided to go and check out the modelling scene in Bangalore. And from there, as the cliché
goes, it was history. Now, after almost a year Azim can proudly say that he has modelled for most of India's best designers such as Manish Malhotra, Rohit Bal, Sunit Verma, Tarun Tahiliani, Rajesh Pratap Singh, and Hemant Trivedi to name a few. His modelling has taken him from training zone Bangalore to modelling haven Mumbai.
Azim has two goals. One, to become an internationally recognised model, and more importantly, two, to help enhance and develop the modelling industry in Bangladesh. A face that has made Bangladesh proud by appearing in German and Australian Vogue, we wish Asif Azim good luck on both his endeavours. In the meanwhile, keep up the great work!
Diary of a Food Obsessed Person
BY Sam Q
I am back. Did you miss me? Well, I sure did miss writing in you. Life is so busy during the summer months. Friends, relatives visiting, farewell parties for friends who are leaving for long holidays, and of course preparing for one's holiday. Well diary I am off to see my sister, leaving behind my daily rigors of my supposedly over indulgent life. Every night, right after my late dinner, my ever faithful woman, Friday will come and ask me, rain or shine, bhaiya's breakfast menu, whether it is the almond or kaleezeera day, whether watermelon or pomegranate juice day, my tiffin for school, my baby's tiffin, lunch menu for the day, and all these decisions I have to give while my stomach is full from dinner and talking about food is making me want to puke. Sorry diary, for being so explicit, but that is what I have to take a break from. Even though I have given her seven specific menus for seven days of the week, but no, madam has to re-affirm every night. I must be some holy terror to get such reverence from her. You know diary, people have such distorted visions of me.
Just because I like to cook and be fat, people think I have this elaborate menu everyday where I prepare and eat healthy food. A typical day would begin with a cup of hot tea, followed by a glass of fresh juice, a cup of tea, followed by hot water and honey, a cup of tea (yes again), followed by skim milk and oats. Then I hit the gym. Don't worry, not to lose weight, yaar, just to keep my knees in shape. Anyway, after that, a light lunch of fish and vegetables cooked in olive oil. Then at night, either it is tomato chicken or yellow curry chicken or kata-masala chicken, or spice-roasted chicken, or bhuna chicken, or spinach chicken or lastly tandoori chicken to choose from (remember, seven types of chicken menu?). One vegetable curry, one dal and maybe one bhorta. And yes, everything cooked in olive-oil. But looking at me diary, I know it is hard to digest the above facts, but… look at my husband… he's living proof. And you know why diary, he doesn't put on any weight? Because he does not snack on dahi puchkas from Roll-Express or bhel-puris from Dhaba, or munch on Lay's chips during the day, or late at night. I thrive on such illegal nightly atrocities.
As Oprah once said, even one grape at night sits on your hips. And man oh man, I must be eating mounds of grapes by Oprah's standards.
Anyway, as I was counting my days to freedom, thinking about how I would be reading and maybe writing on my sister's patio with iced-tea and honey roasted cashews by my stand while she would be at work, and the children school, her husband working down in the basement…
me enjoying me-time, with a light shawl to protect me from the much-awaited gentle breeze and P-O-O-F! I am rudely awakened by my sister's phone call saying, how I wonderful it would be for her, to come back home to a home-cooked meal, cooked by a different pair of hands. She said she wasn't even grocery shopping anymore; she is waiting to do that when I come. Okay! So I compromise. I will cook quick-good-house-keeping-meals in a jiffy and then squeeze in my me-time. I am so looking forward to it. So diary, one of my weekly chicken recipes today:
Spiced Roasted Deshi Chicken with Coriander
2 deshi chickens
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tblsp grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup (40g) ground almonds
¼(60ml) lemon juice
3 fresh coriander roots
½ tsp ground turmeric
3 tsps ground garam masala
3 large green chilies, chopped coarsely
2 tbsp salt
30g olive oil
¼ cup firmly packed coriander leaves
1) Cut the chicken and remove all the bony parts. Only 16 pieces of chicken should be there. Wash well and pat dry
2) blend the garlic, ginger, almonds, juice, roots, turmeric, garam masala, chilli and salt until combined
3) rub spice mixtures over the chicken; cover, refrigerate 3 hrs or overnight
4) pre-heat the oven
5) Place the chicken pieces on an oiled baking pan or dish. Brush with olive oil. roast in a hot oven till brown all over and cooked through
6) Sprinkle coriander. Serve with lemon wedges if desired.
If you do not have an oven, then chop 3 cups of onions. Fry them in olive oil till golden brown and then add the marinated chicken. Mix well, and over a low flame cook the chicken till well-done. You might need to add some water to cook the chicken through. By the time the chicken is done, it will have the look and aroma of the bhuna chicken.