Who would have ever thought that this good-looking, 6’3” strapping lad would one day bring fame to India on an international arena. Prathamesh Maulingkar is Goan good-looks, as good as they get! From a sleepy little town in Goa called Tivim, mostly known as a railway head, Prathamesh has now created a record of sorts, being the first Indian to win this international title.

“It’s such great pride and honour to win this award, especially because I represented India in an international arena and won. The excitement hasn’t died down yet and sometimes, I wonder if all of this actually, just happened,” says Prathamesh as we begin the conversation.

Originally a footballer, Prathamesh turned to fitness after an injury left him not-so-fit for professional football. “My love for football, however, has never died and I still take every opportunity I get to play a fun game. In many ways, I owe my fitness regime to football as it led me to my next love, fitness. My keen enthusiasm in fitness led me to modelling and then modelling led me to this amazing win. I am so grateful for everything that has happened, so far,” he gushes.

With half the country rooting for him, Prathamesh at the Mr. Supranational Pageant was followed keenly in Goa and everywhere else in the country. Fashion moguls like Wendell Rodricks’ and style guru Prasad Bidapa’s social media timelines were following every round at the pageant. “The pageant was amazing and I was really surprised to see that so many people have such amazing things to say about Indians. One always feels that internationally, India is known for gorgeous women and beauty queens, but we are slowly becoming recognised as a country with gorgeous men too. At the pageant, I was shocked to see that many people look at Indians as serious pageant contenders and we’re always known as people who come thoroughly prepared and as a force to reckon with,” explains Prathamesh.

Prathamesh’s training was indeed thorough. “I trained for almost the whole year. I wanted to be in the best condition I could be in. When I won the Best Body category before the finals, I was already really satisfied. For a lot of people, winning the Best Body category is more than enough. Of course, I am happy I won the title, but I think that can be accredited to my energy and enthusiasm. I am a very positive person and I am happy that the judges appreciated that side of me,” enthuses the winner.

But is being so fit an easy task? “Absolutely not! I am constantly training. I do not use any supplements and I believe in exercising clean. Football helped me stay fit and I follow a strict diet where I do not limit how much I eat, but limit what I eat. I have always ensured my fitness is naturally achieved, and because it is all natural, I often have to work ten times more — but it is all worth it at the end.”

The title winner will now be busy for a whole year, representing the pageant across the world, but what next? “I really want to get into acting. But I hope to do so at an international level. I don’t think I have the skill for it, just yet. I will train to be a good actor and I am open to roles in any language.”

Finally, we ask Prathamesh what he would like to say to other aspiring male pageant contestants. “My answer is very simple. There aren’t many pageants for men. Few, like Mr. Supranational, give us a chance to experience the world of international pageants. I would only ask aspiring models and contestants to do what you like and give it all you’ve got. Learn to believe in yourself and pursue your dreams and goals with an insane amount of passion. I wanted to be a footballer and did that, and then I got injured and so I turned to fitness. I aced that too and turned to modelling and achieved what I wanted to, here too. The sky is literally your only limit.”

write to me at romal@paulsons.in