Living between Sri Lanka and Mumbai. Meet our girl - Paloma Monnappa.
From the looks of it, the world has a lot to learn about taking life by the horns from this multi-tasking jack of all trades. She's trisected in enviable proportions. As a model/surfer/dj it all fits together to become everything you’d imagine a vivacious entity to be. She flits from high fashion editorials to gritty parts of India covering lesser known stories as a travel show host (Discovery & TLC) to hitting the waves in Sri Lanka before you can say ‘slow down’ and she finds time to DJ here .She's played at some of the most iconic venues & festivals all over India & Sri Lanka. She made her acting debut in Malayalam opposite young star Dulquer Salmaan in the critically-acclaimed "Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi" in 2013 where she played the role of a surfer girl. Besides that she has acted in Indie music videos, a short film where she played an acid attack survivor & many tv commercials. She makes it look pretty damn easy, but considering each day seems to demand a different destination, we’re exhausted just trying to keep up.
How did you become a model? Do you remember your first shooting ?
I was in the last year of my Fashion Marketing & Management Degree & a friend of mine had sent my images to Elite Model Management which was one of the only big modelling agencies in India at the time. I randomly got called in for a meeting & they were keen on signing me onto their roster. That was my first modelling contract! Over time, it evolved. Without me actively pursuing it.
What’s one of the most interesting shoots that you’ve done? Where was it?
That's a hard question! I guess it would have to be the original feature we worked on with The Vibe - a contemporary lifestyle digital channel that aims at storytelling. We had the opportunity to stay in one of the oldest Edwardian motor yachts afloat. The luxury yacht named Kalizma was used by the Royal Navy in both world wars and was gifted to Elizabeth Taylor by Richard Burton. It was such a magical experience being out at sea in the Seychelles, a real tropical paradise! Also, hearing all about the history and stories of this iconic yacht. We went surfing to Police Bay, one of the most pristine beaches I have ever seen in my entire life. I've traveled to many gorgeous beach destinations but I had never seen water that clear & blue. We went free diving under the granite caves, barbecued our own fish & fed mangoes to giant aldabra tortoises. I love water sports and the Kalizma had a whole bunch of fun water sport equipments that we could play around with. Undoubtedly, a memory that will last a lifetime.
You are currently living between Sri Lanka and Mumbai. What is the model life in India and how is it different to Sri Lanka ?
I'd say the whole industry is a lot more evolved in India - in terms of standard of photography and makeup artists, etc. It's a lot more competitive & there's tons of really talented upcoming photographers and fresh faces in the market. Budgets are obviously bigger in India since the market is so huge. Colombo is such a tiny city and that's pretty much the main market here in Sri Lanka. There's only 2 modelling agencies here in Sri Lanka where as India has quite a few. Its still at grass root level here in Sri Lanka but that makes it more exciting as there's loads of opportunities to start talent agencies, production houses, etc.
Sri Lanka is often called Little India. Do you find more similarities or differences between those two countries ?
I always call it the virgin India or what India could have been if it weren't so overpopulated! I've road tripped around both India and Sri Lanka and I'd say that Sri Lanka is a bit more open to westerners, even in the remote villages. It is more 'advanced' in terms of average road and cleanliness; India on the other hand is quite an extreme country - it has higher positive extremes but also higher negative ones. In terms of landscape India has a lot more to offer since it is such a vast country, you have deserts and the stunning Himalayas which Lanka lacks. Lanka is much more 'condensed' and easier to travel around. You still have a bewildering variety of climates and landscapes within 1-2 days travel. Kerela is most similar to Sri Lanka in terms of food, scenery and culture. Also, as a woman i would feel a lot safer travelling around Sri Lanka than my own country.
What do you miss the most about Sri Lanka when you are in Mumbai and vice versa ?
I miss my home food and friends the most when I'm in Sri Lanka. Both my parents are amazing cooks so I really get spoilt when i'm home. My mom is Tibetan and my father is Coorgi from Karnataka, they both have really special unique cuisines. Also, the music scene and nightlife in Bombay is way more evolved than in Sri Lanka. So i do miss the gigs that happen so often in Bombay and being able to go out and dance to music that i enjoy listening to.
When I'm in Bombay I miss the ocean, nature and being able to surf everyday. I also miss the tranquility and the relaxed environment of the island. I love the way Sri Lankans prepare their vegetables, it's easy to eat healthy in Lanka since the produce is so fresh.
Can you share your top 3 favourite spots in Sri Lanka ?
Galapita Eco Lodge in Buttala
Sri Lankan Rice and Curry at Closenberg Hotel, Galle
Trek up to Diyaluma Waterfall - the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka
Yours favourite track of all time ?
What are your future goals ? Are you going to pursue the model career or you have other projects coming up ? Where do you see yourself living in few years ? Sri Lanka, India or maybe somewhere else ?
Right now I am also working as a Producer and doing Casting work for shoots in Sri Lanka. I would love to open up a concept store curated by me at the Galle Fort, since there is a need for unique boutique shops in this country. I also recently finished acting in an international web series for amazon prime that will be released in 204 countries. I definitely see my myself based in Sri Lanka but knowing me i will keep moving around :) I don't like to restrict myself to one place.
3 things you do that make you happy ...
Surf, music and food.
I know you are surfing a lot. Can you share with us the best, hidden surf spots on the island ? :)
It would no longer be a secret spot then :p