One day, if Arshad Khan makes it big in the modelling biz, he'll tell the story of how he was 'spotted' at Sunday Bazaar.

He'll recount how as he went about his chai-making business, a photographer named Javeria (Jiah for short) Ali chanced upon his good side and took a picture. This picture soon went viral — Arshad says posters bearing his likeness even rained from the sky — and made him a national sensation.

Are Pakistan's established models' breakthrough stories just as sensational? We speak to them and find out.

Shehzad Noor

Shehzad Noor for Sania Maskatiya Man | Shehzad off-duty
Shehzad Noor for Sania Maskatiya Man | Shehzad off-duty

It was photographer Khawar Riaz who gave Shehzad Noor his first break.

"I had my printing press. I met Khawar Riaz at PFDC in Karachi and did my first shoot with him for HSY — that's how my career took off. Then I did some shoots for Diva magazine."

While Shehzad's family "never took (his) modelling seriously" and thought he was wasting his time, he says he has no regrets about becoming a model.

"In the start, modelling isn't at all lucrative," he admits. "But later, you make good money."

Jahan-e-Khalid

Jahan-e-Khalid for Emraan Rajput | Jahan-e-Khalid off-duty
Jahan-e-Khalid for Emraan Rajput | Jahan-e-Khalid off-duty

For Jahan-e-Khalid, joining the modelling industry was a calculated decision.

"I was never discovered. I became a model by choice and paved my way up the ladder," he says to Images.

"[Before I became a model,] I was working as an assistant manager administration & PR at Plascopac Pvt. Ltd and as an educationist at Sanjan Nagar Trust," he elaborates. "I myself decided to take up modelling and asked my dear friend and photographer M. Usman Zia to shoot my portfolio. It turned out great and thus began my journey to success."

Was giving up a corporate career an easy decision for Jahan-e-Khalid?

"My father was not so supportive. I come from an educated background and he was worried whether I'll be able to make a career out of modelling," he shares. "On the other hand, my sister and mother were very supportive and always used to appreciate and support my hard work and achievements."

Omer Shehzad

Omer Shahzad for Amir Adnan | Omer off-duty
Omer Shahzad for Amir Adnan | Omer off-duty

"I was discovered by Vaneeza Ahmed for fashion week through a model hunt in August 2011," reveals Omer Shehzad.

"I was working at a multinational and also completing my studies at the time. Then, [agent] Ajmal Murad saw me and offered me a TV commercial. That's how I first started."

Omer quickly moved into acting when he got the chance.

"In Pakistan, male models can't just depend on modelling because they're so few brands for men. So you have to jump into other mediums of our industry. I did the same, and started working in TV. I did commercials, TV serials and recently have done a movie as well. I try to balance between fashion and entertainment. That's how you can live and support your family as well. On the other hand, when you've made your name in fashion, you start earning better from campaigns, commercials and runway shows."

With his family firmly behind him, Omer says he's happy that he followed a hunch and became a model.

"I have no regrets, why would I? This industry gives me a lot of respect, fame and money, and of course, some good friends that are like my family. The onyl point is that you have to be professional and easy-going."

Tabish Oza

Tabish Oza for Deepak & Fawad | Tabish off-duty
Tabish Oza for Deepak & Fawad | Tabish off-duty

Tabish was a settled entrepreneur when a modelling offer came his way.

"I was looking after my family business and completing my BBA before modelling. Citrus Talent discovered me during a model hunt and got me a huge campaign of Lawrencepur," says Tabish.

"My family was totally against this because modelling isn't the most stable career," he adds.

But he claims that it has been a lucrative choice, "as long as you aren't desperate enough to work for free."

"I have no regrets," he concludes. "I have got a lot of fame and respect from this profession."

Asif Rehman

Asif Rehman for Deepak Perwani | Asif off-duty
Asif Rehman for Deepak Perwani | Asif off-duty

"Unfortunately, I wasn't as lucky as Chaiwala!" laughs Asif Rehman, as he remembers his breakthrough. "I contacted a few modeling agencies and was selected by a panel of judges for my first gig on the runway.:

"I was and still am working as a government employee in a very reputable institute," he reveals. "I was encouraged by my friends to try this field and I did and the rest is history."

Although he agrees that modelling is lucrative when "you land yourself a couple of lucrative long-term contracts with strong multinational brands", he laments that "models, especially male models, don't get paid enough."

Still, Asif has no regrets. "I don't make any hasty decisions in my life and once I do make up my mind to achieve a certain task, I give it my 100% and always stand by my decisions. We may encounter a bad experience in life but we can always learn something from it. That's my mantra!"

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