Memories That Last - Imran Khan

You are known as the King of the Ramp. What made you decide on taking on fashion choreography as a career?
Fashion to me was always something that came naturally. Right from my childhood to teen days, I was very eager to wear the best of clothes and shoes and be up-to-date with the trends around the world. However, fashion choreography came as a co-incidental blessing. It all began in the year 1985 when there was hardly anything called ‘fashion’ or ‘fashion shows’ in Hyderabad. The age-old Nawabi trends were still prevalent back then. That’s when the idea blossomed in me to introduce the fashion scene into Hyderabad—something that was absolutely new and very vague to the audience here in this city. I can gladly say that I was the pioneer in the fashion industry and am somewhat responsible for the current scene in the city. Therefore, I am honoured and obliged to have been called “The King of the Ramp” by several media publications for the last 30 years.

It’s been a long journey spanning almost three decades. Can you tell us how it has been?
There’s a saying “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!” That’s exactly how my journey has been. Three decades of thorough dedication, sincerity, commitment, creativity, and always being ahead of time has made me what I am today. Even after three decades I still feel its day one of work, that’s the kind of energy and excitement I feel every time I take up a new project.

There have been a lot of achievements along the way starting from 1985 where my friend Fazal Khan and I launched and performed for the very first fashion and dance show in Hyderabad called ‘Romanza’, under our company banner. That’s how I moved on to take up fashion choreography as a full-fledged career after seeing the desperate need of the profession in Hyderabad. Moving on, things became even more exciting and interesting when my equally talented wife, Mahnoor and I got married and became the first power couple to embark on this journey together. I am extremely proud to say that if it weren’t for her being as creative as me, our fashion shows wouldn’t have been such super hits. Her creative visualisation, designing of high fashion western wear, accessories and jewellery, backstage management, and supervision in hair, makeup and styling for the models according to my conceptualisation and themes, are what have made all the events stand out. My creative ideas in fashion choreography techniques along with detailed and advanced modelling styles, the appropriate selection of music and creative concepts made our shows perfect to the T always.

Some of the shows we’ve done together include the Miss World pageant with Sushmita Sen, Diana Hayden, and Yukta Mookhey. We have worked with actors such as Shilpa Shetty, Dia Mirza, Taapsee Pannu, Rana Daggubati and Indian designers like Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Tarun Tahiliani etc. We’ve also done shows for the Indian and Pakistani Cricket teams that were held in Dubai. Also, we got an opportunity to perform a series of fashion shows at The Millennium Dome in the city of London with national and international models. It’s been a roller coaster ride with innumerable shows to credit.

What were the challenges you faced back when you started?
Introducing anything new and totally out-of-the-box is always a challenge, especially in a conservative and mild city like Hyderabad. The very first challenge that I faced when I started off was to make people understand what fashion shows are all about, and make them acquainted with the fashion industry. The next challenge was to find good-looking boys and girls who were interested in modelling, as it was a brand new concept and wasn’t readily accepted at that time. The next challenge I faced was to make these good looking boys and girls learn the tricks of the trade and impart knowledge about fashion shows and etiquettes of modelling and groom them accordingly. Also, there was no concept of a ramp back then. So, it was another big challenge to introduce a ramp for the models to walk.

Even though the scope of fashion choreography is limited in Hyderabad when compared to other big cities in India, you decided to stick to your roots. Why?
That’s exactly the reason I stuck to Hyderabad, because our city needed something like this. I was trained by the master fashion show choreographer Mr Anand from London, and I could have easily decided to shift my base, but I chose to stick to my roots. I could strongly sense the need of fashion to grow here and it was my dream to bring focus to Hyderabad and Hyderabad models on the national map, which by God’s grace came true when I opened my own academy, called “Imran Khan’s Runway Modelling Academy”. A lot of my students went on to win and grab national pageant title’s such as Gladrags, Grasim Mr. India, and Femina Miss India.

What does your work entail? Can you elaborate?
Being a show director and fashion choreographer, it becomes your responsibility to present the show in the best possible manner. You need to work with the needs of your clients, give them different concepts that work for their brand, work with a lot of designers to understand their themes and put them into a perfectly sketched choreography. You also have to teach the models the essence of modelling and choreographing them in sequences that haven’t been performed earlier. Also, it’s very important for a show director to have knowledge of the sound and lights. It’s the choreographer’s visualisation of how he wants the end product to be presented on stage. So, dealing with lights and sounds and fitting them in the perfect way is much needed. Last but not least, fashion choreography becomes very monotonous when presented in the same manner over and over again. So being creative with your sequences and understanding, selecting, and placing the appropriate music with your choreography always helps you have an edge over others.  

How do you stay up-to-date in such a rapidly changing industry?
For the last 30 years we’ve always been ahead of time and we continue to strive for that. Our concepts and ideas are always on par with the international standards and we do things that haven’t happened before. Also, since there is a rapid boom in the technology industry, we have ideas and concepts that we weave in to our shows. That is where my son Jibran steps in.

Your children, Zoha and Jibran, also juggle in fashion choreography, apart from being involved in other fields, making them the second generation in your line of work. Was that a conscious decision?
I guess fashion runs in their genes; it was never a conscious decision. It was their love for me, and my line of work, that fascinated them from a very early age. They are extremely talented in their fields of work and they posses great knowledge and know-how. Zoha is a professional fashion trainer/groomer. Her passion for this field led her to start her own business in the make-up industry. Jibran on the other hand has been a professional model, Latin American dancer and has now stepped into my shoes as the Youngest Professional Fashion Show Choreographer. He has been to London to learn advance methods and courses that will bring a change to the city’s fashion industry. It’s always a delight to see your children choose the same field. Hence, we all become a fashion family!