“An image consultant is somebody who can show you the mirror” – Neeraj Gaba

Anish Mohanty

He had an MBA degree in hand but he chose to do something else in his life. Two decades later, Neeraj Gaba is one of the most well-known image consultants in India. After appearing as a mentor on MTV India’s Next Top Model, he has now made his digital debut in ‘Shaadi Fit’, a reality show in which he is seen as a mentor to young, to-be-married couples. In this interview, he talks about the show, being sensitive to vulnerable couples, his journey from studying MBA to being an image consultant, how MX Player is bringing a revolution in the digital space and more.

Prior to ‘Shaadi Fit’, you have been a judge and a mentor on India’s Next Top Model. Do you like showing young people the way forward?

Pass it forward, as they say. Whatever you have learnt and understood in your life you must try and pass it on to the younger generation. Youth is that part of our society which will take us ahead. If I have a little bit of knowledge, why should I refrain from sharing it with them and help them get better at some aspect of their lives.

In the show, do we see you giving fashion tips to the couples?

Yes, but that is just one aspect of the show. The show encompasses your wedding day preparations and preparations for your married life. Fashion is definitely an important part of the show as everybody wants to look their best on their wedding day.

You are an image consultant. A lot of people in India are not familiar with this term.

Simply put, an image consultant is somebody who can show you the mirror. Your image is the reflection of you. You should be an ‘inside out’ person and not an ‘outside in’. If you are a solid person from within, it will reflect in your external self as well.

You are from Delhi and have an MBA degree. How did you get into the fashion and image consulting industry?

It has been a gradual process. I have not had any technical qualifications when it comes to fashion. My association with fashion started with Lakme Fashion Week. I learnt on the job. I was an image consultant even before I was professionally working as one. I have been an image consultant since the last twenty years.

Do you plan to launch a fashion label of your own someday?

There are no plans of doing that as of now. Right now, I am occupied with way too many things to think of doing something as expansive as that.

You have to be quite sensitive when you are mentoring to-be-married couple on a reality show.

Absolutely! As an image consultant, I have only mentored individuals. This was the first time I was mentoring couples. I had to make sure their individuality stays intact and at the same time, they are able to operate as a couple as well. The responsibility was huge as you are playing with real lives.

A lesser known fact about you is that you sing very well.

(Laughs) How do know that? I used to sing a long time back and used to really love doing it.

 ‘Shaadi Fit’ is your first digital show. How do you look at the digital revolution?

I have done a few interesting things on my social media pages but yes, this show, officially, marks my debut in the digital space. I am very excited about the content being made in this space but I think most of it was catering to the urban audience. What MX Player has done is that it is creating content which apart from catering to the urban audience is reaching out to the audience in the smaller towns. I think it is a commendable thing to do.

What is the next thing you are doing?

As an image consultant, there are other things that are in in the pipeline. I am a person who believes in quality. I want to do limited but good work.

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