Very few have the courage to turn their weakness into strength and 19-year-old Pranav Bakshi tops that list. Pranav became an overnight star when he made headlines as India’s first model with Autism. It was dream for Pranav to walk the ramp, it was a difficult journey which he conquered by keeping a positive attitude. What inspired him and how he won his battle against autism...is one unforgettable journey...
Living the dream
When Pranav was two his mother, Anupama Bakshi, realised her son had special needs. “I noticed it when he started showing symptoms like regressed speech, less eye contact, hyperactivity and sensory issues,” says Anupama. But his ‘never say never’ attitude kept him going. It was in 2016, while attending a workshop for creative therapy where he was introduced to modelling. It was all thanks to Ninjas Model Management, a Delhi-based modelling agency who gave Pranav a chance to channel his inner model. And since that life changing moment, Pranav has never looked back.
Conquering hurdles one step at a time, leaving all the struggles and difficulties behind, on asked how it feels to walk the ramp, the cute model replies with zest, “It feels great!” Sharing his dream. Pranav says he wants to become an international model and make his parents proud. Pranav who is an ardent fan of Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar says “anything is possible, just do your best.”
Overcoming problems become easier when one has a strong moral support system. For Pranav, it was his mother and elder sister who had his back throughout. Proud of her son’s commendable achievement, Anupama feels overwhelmed by all the love and attention he has garnered. “The initial journey was very lonely and I had moments of doubt when I felt he had chosen a rather formidable dream for himself. His older sister has been very supportive and I found people who believed in his dream along the way. And I am very happy that Ninjas Model Management has taken him under its wings. I feel an immense sense of gratitude towards communities at large as they have appreciated and lauded his endeavour,” quips mommy Anupama.
It is my superpower
When asked where he gets the ability to overcome problems and difficulties, Pranav quickly adds, “Autism is my superpower!” Explaining her son’s philosophy, Anupama pitches in, “First of all, people don’t suffer from problems. They just have them. Similarly, Pranav does not suffer from autism. He has it. And it has been projected as a superpower to him. All his favourite Marvel characters have superpowers and so does he. His happens to be autism. It is a positive feeling that provides confidence and reinforcement. And he believes that.”
When life knocks us down with challenges, we tend to give up and doubt our capabilities. Pranav overcame his weakness not just because he was lucky to be picked up by a modelling agency, but it was his positive attitude that kept him going. Reaching out to children or people special needs, or those with Autism, Pranav has one message: Be Confident!
It’s not just autism that Pranav has been conquering, but also anxiety and Echolalia (a speech disability). But, it was Pranav’s unending love for modelling and determination that pushed him to overcome his health problems and keep moving forward. “Echolalia is being highlighted a lot. He has overcome that and is fairly good in his expression and rather eloquent in his writing now. He does have anxiety and obsession. He is aware of both these challenges and works towards handling them with coping mechanisms and tools that he has learnt. He writes in his journal and through his writings resolves these issues and challenges,” concludes Anupama.