By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | July 23, 2021

Abyukta Manikandan is no ordinary talent. The moment she sets foot onto the stage you know she is a winner. The walk, the grace, the direct look in the judges’ eye and the confident manner in which she speaks, adds to her aura. Once Miss Abyukta Manikandan walks on the stage, she needs no other rounds—it’s easy for the judges.

Adjudged the winner by a mile by the judges, but at the end of the evening, on ‘Graduation Day’, she finds herself pushed to the second spot and the second spot girl pushed to the third. The organisers had already decided on the winner. Yours Truly is aghast!

But such is life. C’estlavie! Welcome to the world of pageantry where winners are decided before the contest begins. At least that is what was given to understand at this ‘Graduation Day’ at Cocoaberry Talent and Academy.

Abyukta Manikandan, model from Chennai

Such blatant bias is enough to break a young girl’s spirit, but not Abyukta. “After the event, I asked myself what could be the possible reasons that I was not picked, and how I could get better in the future. I will not say I consider the event a failure in my life but a small setback in many more events to come,” smiles the Chennai girl confidently.  Thankfully, such confidence and belief in self come from a sound family and not from the so-called ‘confidence building’ courses.

Two months after the setback, the judges’ favourite is signed by Inega Model Management. 

Abyukta Manikandan Model from Chennai
Abyukta Manikandan has been signed by Inega Model Management.

Currently pursuing a Law Degree at Jindal Global Law School, Abyukta is intent on completing her education. “Education is very important for all people, and it would be my dream to have the best of both worlds,” says she about her desire to make it in the glamour world. Having watched models on the ramp from the time she was in her mother’s womb Abyukta [with the winner’s gait and a champion’s attitude], is determined to make the best of both worlds.

Opening Doorz to the proverbial ugly duckling turned swoon goddess.


You were surprised that a non-performer was a winner. You knew you were up there. How did you cope with that event in the days that followed?

My experience at Cocoaberry taught me a lot, such as the skills a person in this industry should possess, and it also taught me how to be independent. Though I did not bag the title that day, I am very happy that I participated, and I am sure there were reasons while deciding the winner. Following the same, I asked myself what were the possible reasons that I was not picked, and how can I get better in the future? I will not say I consider that event a failure in my life but a small setback in many more events to come!

You are now tied up with a top modelling agency. Can you throw some light on this association?

I am currently signed to Inega Model Management, which is a premier agency based out of Mumbai. I have been following their work for quite some time and decided to submit my application for representation in April of 2021. I got signed within the same month.

What are the campaigns you have done so far?

Due to the ongoing pandemic, work has been very slow; but I have managed to keep up with shoots within my home city of Chennai. I have shot for Sundari Silks, Kankatala Silks and some designers based out of here. I am very excited about many more prospects.

Abyukta Manikandan Model from Chennai
“No one even believes it is the same person, in front of the camera,” says Abyukta Manikandan about her transformation.

You mention that you were anything but the proverbial beauty. What is it that drew you into this profession? 

When I was a child, I was your typical schoolgirl with braces and glasses an inch thick. So, I was never considered good-looking while growing up. However, I always had a fascination with modelling and acting, and I was drawn to it from a very young age. As I grew up, I began to investigate it more and slowly began to groom myself into the way I look today. The difference is night and day! No one even believes it is the same person!

Glamour looks easy on the outside, but there is a lot of hard work on the inside. How have you geared up for the tough ride ahead?

I completely agree. It is a popular opinion that all models and actors do is get dressed and pose for pictures. Very few people know truly how draining it can be. The job not only requires you to be disciplined at work, but since it is concerning the way one looks, it requires immense discipline and sincerity with the person’s lifestyle as well. Right from the right diet and exercise to a regular sleeping schedule, it is very important to take care of your health. It also requires a great amount of skill. Posing or acting in front of a camera can be daunting for many, but that is the job description for models, and it is a skill that takes a lot of time, energy, and hard work to master. I’m aware of what it takes and I enjoy even the long hours preparing for a shoot.

What are the values that you would like to see this industry possess?

I would love for the fashion industry to be more inclusive of all body types and skin colours. The antiquated notion of a “desirable” man/woman must be smashed and made accessible for all people. Everyone is beautiful and deserves to feel confident and seen in a way they like, comfortable in their skin. 

Your mother was a fashion Choreographer. Did you accompany your mother on shows to see girls on the ramp? What was the initial learning experience from this?

Yes! It is because of her I took a liking to this profession. I have been attending ramp shows from before I was born as my mother, Priya Manikandan, used to work even while pregnant. I have walked the ramp at the age of five with models at her shows. I loved watching them confidently strut down the ramp and wished that could be me one day. My mother is my pillar of support.

Abyukta Manikandan Model from Chennai
“Trust the process and the right things will always come your way at the right time,” says Abyukta Manikandan.

Your dad is also a cinematographer. What has been his contribution to your entering into this field?

My father, V Manikandan, is a cinematographer who has worked on films like Om Shanti Om, Raavan, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani among many others. He has been very supportive as well and is always encouraging me to do what I love. 

Finally, learning early on about the bias that exists in the industry, how will you use this experience in life, maybe to help a youngster later on, or be alert as you move up?

There are many biases, and this is not an easy industry to thrive in. I would say identify your strengths and use them to the best of your ability. Be smart, and never let your emotions get the better of you. Trust the process and the right things will always come your way at the right time!

Pic Courtesy: abyukta.manikandan/Instagram

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