MANU BORA | The Global Citizen Beyond The Fashion Curtain
Orthopedic Surgeon | International Model | Global Citizen
Manu Bora identifies as a bi-dimensional personal brand with an oxymoronic touch: orthopedic surgeon and international model. Two professions quite different from one another but this serious, thoughtful guy with great work ethic seems to balance both quite well. Based in India where he practices medicine at Artemis Hospital in Gurgaon, he continues to travel the world pursuing his modeling career as well. He is signed with major fashion agencies: Elite Paris, Major Milan, New York Model Management and Toabh India, and his entrancing presence graces the covers of highly ranked magazines or seduces us behind the lens in campaigns for the likes of Louis Vuitton, Vogue, Bazaar, Royal Entfield. Sweet and humble yet witty, this Global citizen is poised to follow an unexpected journey, and I have the feeling it will be quite an enticing one.
Photo | Virgilia Virjoghe Photo | Nishant Radhakrishnan
- Manu Bora, respected orthopedic surgeon, international model, world traveler… How would you define yourself beyond these titles?
Before all of the above, I am a proud human being. I fully trust my abilities to better myself every day while being surrounded by the people I love.
- Fashion and medicine are quite opposite disciplines: one is rational, the other highly creative. You are unique in a sense that you can be part of both of these worlds and excel in both. How do you feel in front of the camera versus being in the operating room? Does it require to switch your mind set; do you feel a higher degree of freedom in any of those professions?
Both fields are creative. With surgery I have to operate on different types of fractures and injuries: logic goes hand in hand with being able to adjust to every situation and getting creative sometimes in the blink of an eye when surgery requires it. To get the best results I have to use a customized approach for every injury. Obviously, modeling offers more freedom where I can also experiment with new concepts. I can make a mistake, and we can redo the scene. Surgery doesn’t leave room for mistakes because someone’s health is in my hands. The degree of responsibility is very high. Modeling is my creative outlet.
- You traveled the world for work and pleasure. What country had the most impact on you?
Definitely my own country India. It’s my heritage, I am deeply rooted in the culture and values of this amazing country. India made me who I am today, and it remains my great love.
- I know that the medical field is highly competitive in your country. Could you elaborate? What does it mean to study in India?
To get into the medical school we have to go through a highly competitive entrance examination and on the basis of scores, one gets to choose his medical school. It’s a country with huge population yet the medical schools are scarce, so one has to be on the top of his game to get the admission. I studied almost 8 to 10 hours every day for one year to prepare for the examination and got a very good score. I was ranked nr. 52 all over India in my pre-medical entrance and Nr. 65 in my post graduation entrance. We have brilliant talent in my country, and I am fortunate to have made top 100.
- You mentioned that Indian doctors are extremely well prepared and the competition is high. How do you prepare yourself to face the competition? Do you enjoy this ‘race’?
It’s very hard to be a part of the race, one has to be extremely dedicated and has to have great work ethic. I did enjoy the process however it was very tough to study every day for 10 hours for one year without doing any recreational activities. At the time I had to train my mind to enjoy the subject of the books so that I can retain the knowledge in my mind. I had to train myself to love it. But I don’t want to go through it again.
- You’ve been doing fellowships with hospitals in Paris and NYC, what difference do you notice between the way your profession applies in these cities versus New Delhi?
The medical field is very advanced in India, and there is almost no difference in the way we handle and operate a patient. Surgeons in NYC and Paris are more trained in certain newer techniques and procedures because we are talking about scientifically advanced countries. But many Indian doctors come here for training programs and then start doing those things in India as well.
- What about modeling? You worked with many brands in your country but also did an ad campaign for international brands like Louis Vuitton. How is the fashion world different in your country from others?
There is a difference in every aspect of it. The Indian fashion is still trying to grow and learn the tools in order to be able to align itself to the requirements of the international fashion world.
“Before all of the above, I am a proud human being. I fully trust my abilities to better myself every day while being surrounded by the people I love.” – Dr. Manu Bora
- How do you perceive diversity in fashion? Do you feel that it is difficult to be an Indian male model in a world that is known and often criticized because of objectification and profiling?
What I have learned so far is that the consumer comes first. Brands choose their models according to their consumer, buyer base. So the chances for an “Indian looking” model to get a certain campaign will be highly influenced by the audience of a particular brand. If they have a high percentage of Indian buyers, then yes! It aligns perfectly. The reason I am working internationally is that my looks can easily pass for European.
- Often we see people who seem to be the perfect fit for a certain profession yet they don’t succeed while others who do not fit into a stereotype end up being successful? How do you explain that? Is it a matter of luck or other factors?
Be at the right place at the right time may sound cliche but it does matter. Luck is also an important factor but what I truly believe in is that everything happens for the best, and sometimes not getting what we want can be ‘a great struck of luck’ as Dalai Lama puts it. It may open the door to something bigger and better. We have to work hard and remain hopeful and calm. Things always work out in the favor of positive, honest and hard working people, even if for some of us the path can be more difficult. The more difficult the path the greater human beings we become. An easy path would not challenge us enough.
- How do you balance modeling and your medical practice? Can you take time off when necessary to shoot campaigns especially since in fashion there are very specific dead lines?
For any shoot, I have the dates available way ahead of time, so I can plan my surgeries accordingly. It’s tough to manage two-time consuming professional careers because with medicine I have to be up to date, and there is a lot of reading material. For modeling, I have to go to the gym every day to be fit. Somehow I managed to balance everything well so far.
- Aside from assiduous hours of work and traveling what brings you joy?
I love meeting new people, spending time with family and friends, reading books, watching movies. Some of my favorite authors are Dr. Brian Weiss and Dr. Wyne Dyer.
- Coming from a spiritual and amazing country like India, are you a spiritual person? Do you practice meditation and yoga? What helps you get through the day with a smile on your face?
I am a positive and calm person. Whatever happens in my life is for the best, and if I remain positive and hard working, I will get everything that God has decided for me I should have. I take whatever comes to me with a positive attitude. I smile even while faced with a negative situation because I tell myself that something great will happen following this experience. And better awaits.
- What elements define your personal brand and what’s your competitive advantage in your view?
Intelligence, education and knowledge in conjunction with good looks. I would rather identify as a Brand Ambassador for a brand than just the model or the face of it. I can publicly speak on behalf of the brand I represent because I am highly educated. That’s my competitive advantage in the modeling world.
- How was your recent experience in NYC working at the Hospital for Special Surgery and with the New York Models Management? Did you enjoy New York?
I love New York. This is a place of extreme learning and opportunities. The Hospital for Special Surgery is ranked number one in Orthopaedics in the USA, and I am very thankful to Dr. Anil Ranawat for giving me a chance to learn under his expert guidance. He is a great Sports medicine surgeon, and I learned a lot from him. New York Model Management is such a great agency, it feels like home when I go there. And they believe in me.
- Who is your favorite fashion designer? And why? Who would you like to work with in the world of fashion?
The magic name is Tom Ford. He is highly creative but also sophisticated, intelligent and well spoken. A strong personal brand and a visionary. He is my role model in fashion.
- Where is the future taking you? What’s next? What dreams and desires are waiting to be fulfilled?
I am confident that the future will take me into the best direction.
- What’s next?
I prefer to think “what’s now “. I love to remain present and allow the future to unfold itself and remain hopeful that it will be bright.
- Where do you see areas of opportunities to expand yourself on both personal and professional level?
I am learning and becoming better every day on both levels. My goal is to become a global presence and influencer because I want to inspire the young models to get a good educational foundation before going into fashion. I have met so many models all over the world, and most of them didn’t complete college. For most of them modeling will end in eight to ten years, and then they will have to wonder what to do next because they don’t have a degree. To become a good model doesn’t mean that one has to drop out of college, there are so many ways of getting an education and a degree even without attending the college every day. I want to set an example and inspire young models to be bi-dimensional.
- Do you consider yourself a Global citizen? And what does a Global citizen means to you?
Absolutely. To me, it means to do work globally and inspire people all over the world while doing so. It also means to be charitable and give back.
- What does success mean to you?
Success means inner happiness, and being able to guide others towards a better future. We are living in a society surrounded by people, success should be cherished and shared, and not be celebrated alone.
- What is happiness to you and what can be done to enhance our level of happiness in general?
Happiness to me is satisfaction. One has to be satisfied with what he already has in order to get more in the future. Thinking about the future is very important for one’s personal growth but one should also learn to live in the present. Cherishing what we already have in this world, that to me is happiness.
- The Hedonist motto is ” you can be, do and have anything you want”. What’s your take on such a statement?
It’s “the secret”, the law of attraction. The book the Secret explains in a simplistic way the ‘sophisticated’ or grueling path to happiness and success, whatever you may want to call it. It can have a life changing effect on people and it’s a must read.