This week Lahore-based designer Mohsin Naveed Ranjha proved that he knows precisely how to turn the spotlight towards himself and trend on social media.

It’s a simple formula: all you have to do is get Ranveer Singh to model your clothes … on the cover of a big-time Bollywood magazine like Filmfare. Oh, and you may have to forget buying that new car you had your eyes on because things can get quite expensive.

This is precisely what Mohsin did. He shrugged away his dreams for a new car and flew off to London to shoot with Ranveer Singh some months ago. The shoot has now been featured on the cover as well as within Bollywood’s veritable gospel for all film-related news, Filmfare magazine.

And Mohsin’s cellphone has been buzzing ever since.

The Filmfare cover that's catapulted Mohsin Naveed Ranjha into Instagram spotlight
The Filmfare cover that's catapulted Mohsin Naveed Ranjha into Instagram spotlight

“For a moment, I thought that something had gone wrong with my phone,” laughs Mohsin. “It just completely stalled. Then I realized that Ranveer had posted a picture of the cover and tagged me on it. My brand’s Instagram followers were multiplying by the minute! Filmfare tagged me on their Instagram profile as well and my phone just hasn’t stopped buzzing.”

It was great timing that Filmfare chose to release the images while the actor was particularly in the news because of his wedding festivities. The very savvy cover and the shoot within the magazine immediately began to get shared on cyberspace, on both sides of the Pak-India border because everyone loves Bollywood and particularly Ranveer Singh, don’t they? And when he’s on a magazine cover, he makes sure that he looks good beyond a shadow of a doubt.

He also makes whatever he wears look great. “Inquiries about the clothes that he wore in the shoot have been coming in constantly,” reveals Mohsin. “People are saying that they love the clothes – or perhaps they love the way Ranveer wore them!”

Apparently, the clothes and the shoes were designed with Ranveer in mind. “He wanted to know exactly what he was going to wear in the shoot,” says the designer. “I sent across the mood board, the colour scheme, the sketches, everything for his approval. Even though he had signed a contract with me and this was a paid shoot, it still didn’t mean that he would wear just about anything I created. After all the nitty-gritties were sorted and I was leaving for London, I was still worried. What if he didn’t like the clothes? What if something went amiss at the last minute?”

Nothing did go amiss and Ranveer really liked the clothes. He even said so in a special shout-out that he recorded for Mohsin!

“I deliberately wanted to dress him in austere, subtle colors. He wears so much colour and I told him that he also needs to go with darker tones every now and then. He quipped back that those were the colours that everyone else wore while he stood out all on his own. “Ek Ranveer siraf akela hai!” he said.”

Getting Ranveer Singh on board – even at a high price – is a coup. How did Mohsin manage to strike this deal with one of Bollywood’s biggest stars? “I had been in touch with his team and we had been talking about it for a while,” says the designer. “When plans for the shoot finally began to formulate, they told me that they wanted it to get printed in a major Indian magazine. I was very excited that it was going to get printed in Filmfare. It is Bollywood’s biggest magazine, has a colossal social media presence and is distributed not just in India but all over the world.”

“Once we had wrapped up the shoot, Ranveer’s team wanted to approve the images before sending them across to me. They are very particular about things like that and I didn’t mind. He is a big star and representative of multiple global brands. They have to be very careful about the image that he projects to the public. Even during the shoot, he knew precisely how he wanted to look. His team had selected a hair stylist but Ranveer ended up not liking his work. He made some calls and arranged for another stylist who often works for Bollywood shoots taking place abroad. That guy came, restyled Ranveer’s hair and we were ready to roll!”

Apparently, the shoot took long. The scheduled starting time was 9am and Ranveer came in by 9.15am. “Right on time,” Mohsin remarks almost incredulously, for he has in the past worked quite often with local celebrities and knows precisely how late things can get. “We wrapped things up by 9pm. There were lunch breaks and dinner breaks in the middle and be shot in different parts of London … Oxford Street, Hyde Park, King’s Garden. It was actually a lot of fun. Wherever we went, people would start gathering around and they would all want to meet Ranveer.”

“People are saying that they love the clothes – or perhaps they love the way Ranveer wore them!” says Mohsin
“People are saying that they love the clothes – or perhaps they love the way Ranveer wore them!” says Mohsin

Off-duty, Ranveer is very fun-loving, according to Mohsin. “He is exactly the way he appears to be in his interviews,” he observes. “He is very professional but he wasn’t really obsessed with the shoot. He told me that he wasn’t a model, he was an actor and he talked a lot about his films.”

“The high point for me was when Ranveer posted the Filmfare cover and Deepika Padukone liked the image,” laughs Mohsin. “Honestly, managing to achieve a Ranveer Singh cover with Filmfare wasn’t easy for me and I probably would have had backed out had it been any other Bollywood actor. But Ranveer is my favorite and I was willing to pull out all stops for him.”

What has this cover managed to achieve for Mohsin, aside from allowing him to have a one-on-one with his favorite actor? Hopefully, business – and a whole lot of mileage not just within our Bollywood-smitten nation, but also around the world. “He’s an international star and I think this shoot will help me build my business internationally,” says Mohsin. “I have been planning to open a studio in the US and more people over there know of my brand now.”

A brief look at Mohsin’s fledgling label reveals that the designer has always had a penchant for dressing celebrities. In the four short years since he debuted, he has become a regular participant in the Hum Network’s Bridal Couture Week montage and has dressed a slew of local celebrities. “Everyone, from Maya Ali to Saba Qamar, Sajjal Aly, Aima Baig… the list goes on,” he says. Now, he’s taken things a step further by forging an international collaboration.

Naysayers may say that some of his success is because he has the funds to invest into major marketing but then again, there are many others who may have the wherewithal but lack the vision to market their brand the right way. Meanwhile, Mohsin Naveed Ranjha started off from his hometown Gujranwala and is now treading international territory. That’s great marketing and no amount of critique can deny that.

The designer’s work will be seen in early December in Bridal Couture Week taking place in Lahore.

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