Friday, November 14, 2008

Geetanjali Nagpal - Indain model turned drug addict...became into begger in streets!

NEW DELHI: In the '90s, Gitanjali Nagpal sashayed down the catwalks of Delhi with the likes of Sushmita Sen. A Navy officer's daughter who went to Lady Shri Ram College, she seemed set for a flashbulb career in fashion. On Sunday, they found her living off the streets and spending her nights in parks and temples. And by Monday, she was being hounded by TV cameramen, reporters and do-gooders. Gitanjali's sad story had just taken yet another weird turn. It's a horrifying story of the dark side of glamour: how one false move can send a promising career to a downward spiral of drugs and self-destruction. By her own admission, the ex-Mount Carmel student worked as a maid, spent her nights with men for money to quell her craving for drugs and alcohol and was in the end reduced to a life on the footpath. Gitanjali's estranged husband lives in Germany with her child. And, touchingly, he still waits for her. When Metro Now , TOI's sister newspaper, first spotted her in South Delhi's Hauz Khas village and started taking her photographs, Gitanjali slid the T-shirt down her shoulders like a seasoned model and posed in style. She promised to model even better for a reward: a swim in a five-star hotel. But after the story was published on Monday, Gitanjali was back among the flashbulbs. In an ironical twist, she was chased by TV reporters, shepherded by Delhi Commission for Women and taken in a Qualis first to a police station and then to Vimhans, a hospital that deals with mental health. Gitanjali, still striking with her matted dreadlocks and wearing a black corsette and long skirt that seemed to have all the colours of rainbow, didn't get down from the car. Rather, she abused people who approached her. Three psychiatrists talked to her in the car. They later said she had poor hygiene, had rashes all over and was irritable.
NEW DELHI: Treading the arduous path to recovery after she was found begging on the roads of Delhi almost two months back, ex-model Geetanjali

Nagpal is desperate to meet her son soon. The 32-year-old Nagpal, who is a contemporary of the likes of model-turned-actress Sushmita Sen, has been undergoing treatment for fear psychosis at the VIMHANS Hospital here. Likely to be discharged from hospital after she is produced in court on Saturday, Nagpal is desperate to meet her son Arthur. She expressed her wish to the Delhi Commission of Women (DCW) Chairperson Barkha Singh, who met her on Friday. "She is really desperate to meet her son, who she says is in Thailand. Geetanjali said she would soon go to meet him and wants to be with him," Singh told reporters. Nagpal, however, no longer wants to return to her husband Robert Stuempfl for some personal reasons, she said. According to Singh, the ex-model is perfectly normal now and would be produced in a local court on Saturday. "We have decided to move her to Jindal Girls Hostel in Hissar, where she will be staying with her mother for the next four months," Singh said about the rehabilitation plans for Nagpal.
The message by a man to an Indian blogger, claiming he was Robert Stuempfl, former model Gitanjali Nagpal's husband, might have caused a

stir. However, there is still no information on him. Writing to a blogger — Sheetal — Stuempfl, her alleged German husband, said he wanted Gitanjali’s contact details and expressed his desire to be reunited with her. In order to establish his identity he has even posted some of Nagpal’s old photographs with him and their son Arthur — who now lives with Robert — to the blogger. He apparently even posted their marriage certificate and the birth certificate of their son which haven’t been put up on the website. Gitanjali, however, has still not been told about any of these developments. ‘‘She is stable and is doing much better. However, I don’t think she is fit enough to be told about her husband trying to get in touch with her. So far, no one from her family has gotten in touch with me or other members of the medical team treating her. Anyone trying to see Gitanjali should before coming to VIMHANS speak to Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) and the police,’’ said Dr Jatinder Nagpal, consultant psychiatrist, VIMHANS, where Gitanjali is currently admitted. Nagpal, added that mental disorders naturally take long to heal and have a very strong chance of resurfacing. "Gitanjali hasn't been under treatment for even a week. It’s important to understand that though her condition has improved, one wrong move could send her spiralling into depression or fits of aggression. She is still very vulnerable," said Nagpal. He also said that Gitanjali hadn’t spoken about meeting any of her family members or friends. Hence, it was unfair to bring up her husband and his desire to get in touch with her, especially since the identity of the man on the blog hadn't even been confirmed. There were rumours that Gitanjali’s mother — who has not tried to contact Gitanjali till now — had come to see her on Sunday, however, the hospital denied this. Meanwhile, DCW said that nobody by the name of Robert Stuempfl had contacted them. "It's a small world and I am sure Gitanjali’s loved ones can easily find a way to get in touch with her. However, nobody from Gitanjali’s family, including her husband, has tried to contact us till now," said Barkha Singh, chairperson, DCW. Singh said that even if someone contacted DCW to get in touch with Gitanjali, they would have to follow a certain procedure before being allowed to meet her. "They would have to seek permission of the doctor treating Gitanjali and more importantly seek permission from Gitanjali herself. Before doing that, they would have to speak to DCW, the police and maybe the magistrate as well," said Singh.

The condition of former ramp model Geetanjali Nagpal, admitted to a hospital here after she was found begging on the streets is improving and doctors have found no symptoms of drug abuse in her. "We haven't found any withdrawal symptoms linked to drug abuse in her. The blood reports also do not indicate anything like that," Nalnish of the Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (VIMHANS) said on Sunday. "Her diet and hygiene are being taken care of and she is also undergoing psychotherapy. Her condition is much better now," the doctor said. Earlier, Nagpal, diagnosed as suffering from fear psychosis, was not talking to people or becoming abusive and irritated. She is calmer now and doctors have started to form a rapport with her. "Still, we are not taking up issues related to her past life with her and only talk about general matters like health conditions and hygiene," Nalnish said. Nagpal, who is under the care of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), was admitted to VIMHANS on September 3 with permission from the metropolitan magistrate at Karkardooma courts. She might remain in the hospital for at least one or two more weeks and the DCW will then decide on where to shift her and her future plans, Nalnish said. "Right now, we are not allowing anybody to meet her as there is a court order. Nobody from her family or any friends have tried to contact us,

Visit any pre-school fancy dress competition and you're sure to see at least one participant dolled up as a beauty queen. Ask any boy-turning-man

working out in the gym who his hero is and John Abraham, biceps and all, will be the likely answer. To say we're glamour struck is an understatement. No surprise, then, that modelling schools are being set up in every bylane, promising to teach you the walk, the attitude and everything else it takes to launch your career in the dazzling world of designer wear, exclusive parties, ramp shows... maybe even a career in the movies. Girl, interrupted: Gitanjali Nagpal was one of the many girls who decided to model for a living. She claims to be a contemporary of Sushmita Sen who, of course, went on to conquer the universe. Today Gitanjali has all the name and fame she ever dreamt of. It has come at the cost of her family, friends, abuse, isolation, poverty and a mind-numbing psychosis. ''It's easy to be taken in by the gloss and glamour but modelling is tough business. If somebody promises you a shortcut to the top, it should set alarm bells ringing instantly,'' says model-turned-actress Urvashi Sharma. ''People are willing to do anything to make it big in the glamour world. The simple truth is, not everybody can be a successful model. And the sooner boys and girls realise this, the better,'' she adds. Originally from Hazaribagh, the leggy Sonalika Sahay went on to become the face of Dior in 2004 and is now a much sought after model. ''Anyone wishing to become a model should give it a try. But this is a high stress business and takes the mickey out of you. It is a full time job and not all about looking pretty. Don't go in dreaming of roses and you won't be disappointed,'' she says. Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar, who's making a movie on the underbelly of the fashion world, points out: "Why only fashion? Even the man on the street wants to be famous. And fame is a heady feeling. Most people can't handle it.'' Two lives: The life of Gitanjali Nagpal tells a story that is not one of fame and fortune. Here the spotlight doesn't always shine, the party doesn't rock forever and the faces and figures are far from perfect... Gitanjali's journey is one that began like many others but took a turn to the place of no return somewhere along the way. Friend and Mumbai roommate Sandali Sinha Salaskar remembers Gitu as ''creative and experimental, always doing her own thing and being comfortable with the fact that she was different''. As struggling models hoping to make it big, both girls went looking for that exclusive break. In due course of time, Sandali acted in select movies, then tied the knot with her dream man. Meanwhile, her roomie had found her high somewhere else — on the beaches of Goa, with different men by her side. Her mother and sister have refused to have anything to do with her. Those who have worked with her in her heyday remember Gitanjali's public wildness and are shocked at her private loneliness. As Albert Einstein famously said, ''It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.'' Living on the edge: A hi-stress job where the pressure is on looking good 24x7, coupled with the competition for better shows, contracts, assignments, plus the constant need to 'belong' can make for a dangerous cocktail. Most models switch cities to pursue their career and end up living away from family in their struggling days. Late-night movies, club hopping and getting sloshed can easily become part of their lifestyle. Drugs are easy to source and getting high has nothing to do with alcohol. ''Like in any business, networking is ultra important in ours,'' says a fresher. ''Besides having the height, a good body and great skin, you have to make sure designers and choreographers know and like you. Minus that, it's impossible to establish yourself.'' Smoking is almost a given in the fashionable scheme of things. What starts with bumming cigarettes off others slowly becomes a habit. ''Smoking keeps me slim by killing the hunger pangs,'' says a waif thin model. ''Just step backstage during a show and take a deep breath. The sickly-sweet aroma of hashish is everywhere,'' says a model coordinator. Modelling is a sureshot entry into the world of glitzy parties. ''There you smoke whatever you get. I'd become an instant outcaste if I threw nakhras and refused a smoke,'' says the model. Maybe that's how it started for a well-known model who was the dewy fresh face of a cosmetics giant's campaign. Plum assignments, a supposed movie offer... she had all it took to be India's next glam gal. One thing led to another and somewhere she got into drugs and the downward spiral of her life began. After spending time in rehab in the UK, she came back to Mumbai to start afresh in 2005. By mid-2006, she was back in the UK and is yet to return. The industry is buzzing with gossip that the gorgeous model has not managed to kick her habit yet. Unfortunately, the glam girl gone wrong isn't here to clarify. Come into my parlour: Then, there are the boy toys. These come in many varieties — muscular, lean, dark, fair, taken, available... ''My boyfriend is an aspiring supermodel. If he has to sleep with somebody or fake his sexual preference to get ahead, I'd just write it off as a career move,'' says Gayatri, a fashion design student. It is normal to see a fashion designer or two at most popular gay hangouts. There to scrounge for 'fresh meat', these couturiers can make or break the career of many a young man. ''I worked out, joined a modelling school and got my portfolio done. But when it came to getting a break anywhere, I always drew a blank,'' says a delicious Jat boy. "Then I heard that this particular skinny designer loved beefed-up bodies. I managed to get passes to a party I knew he would attend and caught his attention there. We had a rocking relationship for 10 months, during which I got lots of mileage. After that he replaced me with another model.'' The hunky Jat tried using the contacts he made in those 10 months but failed. He is now a bouncer in a popular club in the Capital. Old timers tell many a story of a now happily married actor who started off as the 'bum boy' of a Delhi designer. The actor was one of India's rare male supermodels — a title that came with the tag of being a certain someone's favourite squeeze. Up for grabs: Let's get one thing clear — this is a two-way street. While nobody in the fashion world denies the presence of a casting couch, there are also enough starry-eyed girls and boys out there who will do just about anything for that big break. ''In the world of fashion, like anywhere else, ultimately only the good ones really succeed. But that definitely doesn't stop the others from trying all ways to get ahead,'' admits Sanjay Kapoor, MD Genesis Colours, which owns the Satya Paul label. ''Somehow the impression that wicked is good has stuck with the fashion industry. Consequently, those who don't have the talent try and use other means to get ahead,'' says Kolkata-based designer Kiran Uttam Ghosh. ''There is huge competition and the supply of models far outnumbers the demand. Girls are willing to go to any length to get ahead,'' reveals a choreographer. And we're not even talking exploitation here. It's all about a proactive choice. ''And why not?'' asks an aspiring model. ''Even if I don't do it, somebody else will.''
Fallen star: Geetanjali Nagpal being taken to the VIMHANS Hospital in Delhi.
New Delhi: Hers is a journey from the glitter of the fashion world to utter destitution.
Found begging on the streets of the capital, ex-model Geetanjali Nagpal now has nowhere to go with her family disowning her and government agencies floundering in finding a shelter for her and taking hours to decide on how to rehabilitate her.
Ms. Nagpal (32), who once walked the ramps for top designers, was found by a photojournalist begging at a market in posh South Delhi on Friday.
The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) swung into action and took her to the VIMHANS Hospital, where doctors diagnosed her as suffering from fear psychosis and said she had to be hospitalised.
However, the VIMHANS refused to admit her saying a case had to be registered first.
DCW chairperson Barkha Singh took Ms. Nagpal to the Hauz Khas police station. However, the police did not register a case after which the ex-model was taken to the court of the Metropolitan Magistrate.
With her matted hair, dirty clothes and unwashed look, Ms. Nagpal, however, said: “I was only asking, not begging.”

There was some drama outside the hospital as Ms. Nagpal refused to leave the car and go inside for a check-up. Doctors then came to the car and spoke to her.
Daughter of a Navy officer, Ms. Nagpal graduated from Lady Shri Ram College. She left home in 1990 and took to modelling full time. Ms. Nagpal went from Delhi to Mumbai, but her career failed to take off.

It’s not based on Geetanjali, say the makers of Fashion and star Kangana Ranaut following the Delhi Commission of Women
calling for a stay order on the film in the Capital city. It is the big Diwali release for director Madhur Bhandarkar, slated
to hit theatres on October 29.
The DCW’s concern is that Kangana’s character in the film has been based on Geetanjali, a former model found begging on the
streets just over a year ago, in Hauz Khas. She was bedraggled and not quite in a balanced state of mind. The DCW stepped in
and got her treated at VIMHANS. The commission now wants to make sure that the film does not portray the character based on
the ex-model in a negative way. So, Barkha Singh, DCW chairperson, wants to see the film first.
“I got to know about the whole issue only after some media people told me last week,” says Singh. “Once we started probing,
we found a website where Kangana Ranaut has said in an interview that her character in Fashion is based on Geetanjali
Singh now wants to find out first-hand. “If it seems that there are objectionable scenes, action will be taken.” She has
faxed her objection to Bhandarkar’s office.
Bhandarkar and Kangana both deny that Geetanjali was the inspiration for the character, Shonali Gujral. Kangana says, “It is
the story of a supermodel who goes through an emotional breakdown and everything.” She contends, “It’s not even loosely
inspired by Geetanjali’s life. When Madhur narrated the character to me, he never referred to anybody — alive or dead. It’s
the story of an individual, but not of anyone specific.”
Says who? “It has nothing to do with Geetanjali Nagpal,” Bhandarakar emphasises. “It’s a movie about models in the fashion
industry. Kangana’s character is an ultra-successful supermodel; I doubt if Geetanjali was a supermodel ever.”
The director adds that there have been numerous stories of the downfall of models and actresses, from India and abroad, so
why harp on Geetanjali? “One has heard of successful models and actresses getting into drugs or going to rehab. Inspiration
can come from anywhere. Moreover, Geetanjali was begging on the streets. My film has no such reference in Kangana’s story.”
The speculation got stronger with the latest promo, which shows Kangana smoking and sitting at a theatre. “It shows her state
of mind. She is lost, [she] is in a trance.”
Asked if Fashion would be shown to the DCW, he says, “As an independent filmmaker, I have the fundamental right to show what
I feel like. Where have these authorities been for a year since I announced the film? I have put a disclaimer at the start
[of the film], saying it’s a work of fiction and has nothing to do with anyone living or dead, or with people connected with
business or the fashion industry.”

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