Pranav Bakhshi is an aspiring 19-year-old model on the autsim spectrum from New Delhi. His diagnosis is not a roadblock to achieving his dreams, though, as the teen has made history as India’s first male model with autism. Bakhshi refers to autism as his superpower in his Instagram bio.
Brands like US Polo and United Colors of Benetton have had Bakhshi on the runway wearing their clothes. His mother, Anupama Bakhshi, told The Better India that she and her son attended a theatre workshop for people with autism called Velvi Art for Autism Festival . As a part of movement therapy, he was introduced to the ramp walk (runway), and he was drawn to it immediately. She also added, “Once he was on it, I saw his body language change completely.” Later, the teen saw a billboard at the mall and told his mother he wanted to pursue a career in modeling.
From then on, the family searched for opportunities for their son to walk the runway, and he did in 2017 at a few events. They also sent head-shots and requests to various modeling agencies, until one agreed to take him on as a model.
The 19-year-old is now signed with Ninjas Model Management, lead by Ninja Singh. A former model herself, she told MSN, “It is the first time in history that India will represent such diversity like nowhere else in the world. We are proud that India will invigorate fashion in a very moralistic sense.”
His mother told The Better India, “What gives me hope is his immense belief in his dream. There are days when his anxiety and obsessions can be very overwhelming, but he’s done a remarkable job of coping with them.” When asked by Yahoo News if he got nervous before a runway, the young model noted, “I write my anxieties in my anxiety journal. Before a ramp walk, I take a deep breath and calm down.”
As India’s first model with autism, Pranav has shown that he is different, but certainly not less.
To follow his journey, follow his Instagram account, @Pranavbakhshi.