Ujjwala Raut was born and raised in Bombay. Being one of five sisters she never had childhood dreams of becoming a model. That was before she was entered into a modeling contest by her older sister, This is the start of Ujjwala's new found career. Ujjwala has become one of India's most sought after models, and an international star with much success on the catwalk, and print work.
I was born in Mumbai one of five sisters, I am the second youngest. My father came from Sholapur and my mother was born and raised in Mumbai (Bombay). My father is a retired A.C.P. officer (Assistance Commissioner of Police) in Mumbai. My mom was a full time mother looking after five daughters and you can imagine how tuff that was. As children we played in the court yard quite content in our little world.
Since my father was a police officer we had quite a strict up bringing, so there were never any boys hanging around, my father saw to that. Until the age of eighteen, I had never traveled outside India and culturally speaking I was very un-knowledgeable. I was always a kind hearted child like most kids living in my own fantasy world.
As a teenager, I was always quite busy. There were always many choirs to be done around the house, time was spent doing homework and housework. My mother taught me how to cook of which I still enjoy very much. Any spare time I had was spent playing with my sisters and sleeping.
My childhood school days, I remember constantly being in trouble for pulling jokes and tricks with my sister. My older sister Ashwini, we attended "Vidya Mandir High School" in Dahisar. I remember at school I was always the one who paid the least attention to my appearance; my older sister Ashwini always looked so perfect compared to me. Until today, my school days were some of the best day I can remember. At school I was very skinny and was nothing to look at. My favorite subject was Biology, and I always loved Art classes. My worst study was Geometry, along with all the other girls in my school Salman Khan was one of my first crushes.
During monsoon season I vividly recall going to school with my sister Ashwini, we would always take the tunnel under the railway tracks which became flooded, on many occasions we would lose our balance and fall into the dirty water, we would arrive at home looking like a couple of drowned rats. Everyone would always laugh at us. "we would laugh at ourselves".
The college that I went to was "Gokhale College" in Borivali. I studied commerce my favorite part being economics and English. My first years in college were spent studying and at that time I really did not know what I wanted to do. While attending third year in college I did my first college Fashion show, this was my first rendezvous with the Fashion business.
At seventeen, my older sister entered me into the 'Femina Look of the Year' competition, which was being sponsored by Femina Magazine and Elite Model Management here in India. When I arrived, I was completely lost and felt I was very young; this was a very new experience for me, so many beautiful girls and then me. To my complete and utter surprise I won the competition. My very first modeling job came shortly after, it was the fashion show for DeBeers Jewelers then I did a cigarette campaign for "Gold flake"
My first professional shots were by Farrokh Chotia who help push me in the right direction and helped build my confidence. If I had to give praise to the people that helped me along the way, I would have to firstly thank the "Times of India" (Pradeep Guha) along with "Femina" magazine (Sathya Saran) for being behind me in these early years, along with the designer Hemant Trivedi who was helpful and kind to me. A warm thanks to Madhu Sapre and Nayanika Chatterjee who showed me the ropes and were like my older sisters. I have become very close friend to Goan Designer Wendell Rodriguez & Jerome whom I visit on most trips back to India.
My first trip abroad, After winning the Femina "Look of the Year" I went to Paris under contract with Elite Models, I did not like being away from my family and found it difficult to adapt to the French way of living. I lasted two months in France and did my fair share of jobs. It was a great experience but I missed home cooking and my sisters too much, so I went back home to India. I spent the next couple of years working in India and developing my modeling skills and doing fashion shows and campaigns. After becoming one of the India's top models I had my sights set back upon Europe.
With a passion to travel and a desire to conquer the western world, I went back to Paris with the intention of taking my career to the next level. It was not as easy as I thought it would be. In India work was always good fun and mostly I was working with my newly adopted model friends. I had my own car in Mumbai which gave me my first real freedom and allowed me to stop taking the trains. In Europe I took the metro like all the normal people, I would go on ten castings per day and might not even get one job. This was how I spent my days week after week. My most enjoyable times were the weekends where I could sleep late. This phase went on for about eight months, at times I just wanted to return home but something always stopped me 'My inner self did not want to quit" In Paris Eventually I started to work doing the Couture Fashion Show for "Emanuel Ungaro" I loved working with Mr Ungaro he is such a nice gentleman and gave me a pride in my work.
During my time in Paris I befriended the photographer Gilles Marie Zimmerman and his wife Magalie they suggested that I make an appointment to see the head booker of IMG "International Management Group" They were probably the best model management agency around, to my joy they invited me into there family. I worked a few months more in Paris before departing to IMG New York. I had only been to New York previously as a tourist and this was the real thing I was very exited, I was now represented by the best.
My first big break came when Tom Ford immediately cast me for his Spring/Summer YSL 2003 show. He loved me so much; he also cast her again for his Fall/Winter 2003 show. I have since walked in shows for Gucci, D&G. Dolce & Gabanna, Gianfranco Ferre, Victor & Rolf, Atsuro Tayama, Chole, Valentino, Emanuel Ungaro, Missoni, Roberto Cavalli, Krizia, Chaiken, Paul Smith, Oscar de la Renta, Zac Posen, Betsey Johnson, Kenneth Cole, Diane Von Furstenburg, Luca Luca, Badgley Mischka, Bill Blass, Micheal Kors, Max Mara, Sonia Rykel, YSL and Victoria's Secret.
Since being in New York, I have worked for the top fashion magazines such as Vogue (Italian, German, Japanese & Spanish). Harper's Bazar, Marie Claire (American & Italian). Elle (French & British). Italian Glamour, Allure, I-D, L'Officiel, Gloss, Tank, & Interview. I could see myself on the cover of "Times Magazine" Style & Design Summer 2004 issue, photographed by Genti & Hyers, and was even been written about in an article by Guy Trebay, of the New York Times, as one of the "breaking faces" to watch out for.
In addition, I was already working with the industries leading photographers, Peter Lindeberg, Steven Meisel, Patrick DeMarchelier, Solve Sundsbo, Robert Erdmann, Carter Smith, Marc Baptiste, Christophe Rihet, Alex Caley, Cleo Sullivan, Warwick Saint, Max Vadukal, Lee Jenkins, Joshua Jordan, Michelangelo de Battista, Phillppe Cometti, David Vasiljevic, Walter Chin, and the legendary Francesco Scavullo. They were the "Cream of the Cream" I was finally making my dream come true, all my hard work and dedication was beginning to show. I was for the first time proud of my achievements.
"I am always working to improve myself , One day I would like to give back some of my worldly experiences to my own people. There is much to be done in India, for Indians. We have in our hands a rare beauty and I want to help that beauty to flourish, I would like to see the women and children of my country to do better for themselves. If you have ever seen a starving child on the street you will know how much it hurts. India is my real home and I will never be far from it's shores."