Surat boy Freddy Daruwala describes his parents’ marriage as a “typical 70s love story”, complete with his Parsi father running away from home to get married. “We weren’t in the best financial state, but they never let us feel deprived,” says the model and actor, who rose to fame as the bad guy in Holiday (2014).

He travelled in state buses and drove his moped to college 60kms away, and gave tuitions for pocket money. It was while pursuing his MBA that he started toying with the idea of modelling. “But 16 years ago there was no exposure in Surat,” says Freddy, who was discovered by Men’s Health magazine for their cover page in 2007 and crowned Mr India World a few months later. He was soon picked to be the face of Nivea men, a campaign on the back cover of Men’s Health, the magazine that launched him. “But modelling was not high paying then. I didn’t have money to sustain but kept at it and got Holiday. It’s my most recalled project,” he smiles.

Freddy on the Men’s Healthmagazine cover in 2007

Describe yourself in five words.

Resilient, bike-sexual (I love motorbikes. I have nine, all of which are all collector’s items), hard to please, perfectionist procrastinator, and annoyed grumpy Parsi baba.

List something no one knows about you.

1. I cry a lot.

2. I am practically a home maker. I can do everything–cook, laundry, change diapers and lull kids to sleep.

If not a model/actor, what would you be?

Probably a motorcycle mechanic or a fitness coach or a musician (drummer).

What was your biggest fan-boy moment?

When I went to the Minneapolis to see Valentino Rossi at the moto GP. I was running to catch him in every corner of that arena. He is my idol.

What music do you listen to while working?

Metallica. I love Pakistani bands too. Junoon has helped me a lot in my upbringing and character. And music by Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Sonu Nigam and Arijit Singh.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done?

Been on a bike at 254kmph. I’m a trained motorcyclist.

A useful talent no one knows you possess?

I have this weird thing for accents… I catch them very fast. I’ve used that in many projects.

One vice you can’t do without?


Describe yourself in one hashtag.


{ Bedside stories }

What is your favourite breakfast in bed?

Chai and fancy cookies at hotels. I am obsessed. I need something sweet after each meal, whether it’s a donut or bread butter jam!

What is on your bedside table?

Just my phone. I’m very organised. My cupboard is like one in a showroom.

Do you dream often, and do you remember your dreams?

If I eat late, I have crazy dreams that I don’t remember. I day dream more than I dream.

{ Would you rather }

Never travel again or never act again?

Never travel again.

Always be terribly underdressed or horribly overdressed?

Overdressed. But you will find me underdressed all the time. There’s this pressure to dress up in Delhi!

Be stuck behind a slow walker or a slow talker?

Talker. I cannot walk slow for the life of me.

Propose or be proposed to?

Be proposed to. Though with me and my wife, no one proposed. Her mom came and said we are getting married!

Dump someone or get dumped?

I cannot dump people. So, I have just gotten dumped.

Follow @JamalShaikh on Instagram and Twitter

From HT Brunch, November 5, 2022

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