Who is Rajvatan?
Every time I’m faced with this question, I struggle to answer. I’d like to think I’m still exploring myself if I’m honest and some of the attributes I’d always want to possess are to continue being hard-working, disciplined, patient and, most importantly, thankful.
Who are your role models?
Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
You were born and raised in Patiala India. Tell me about that?
Yes, though I was born in Patiala, I had the privilege of experiencing life in various other states/cities growing up. My father had a government job hence the travelling from one city to the next was frequent and, because of this, I was exposed to different cultures and languages as well as attitudes towards me and my appearance. As a family, we’d often visit Punjab in March/April (that’s usually when the academic year ends); therefore, my connection with Punjab and Punjabi culture remains strong.
You came over to the UK in 2006, what were your first experiences like?
It was interesting. I was so used to moving from home to home, I didn’t find it as difficult to settle in the UK. What made it more of an experience was the fact that I had to adapt to the change in language and lifestyle (picking up English as a second language for example).
What was school like for you here coming over in 2006?
Schooling here was a lot different to what I was familiar with. There were specialist teachers for every subject and a complete change of rules and regulations than that of schools in India. I took it in my stride to grasp change and met some lifelong friends along the way.
You stated that you have been bullied because of your Turban. Can you tell me more about that?
Bullying has always been a part of my childhood, even in India. No matter where I travelled and resided, I faced some form of bullying against both my appearance and culture. This not only happened in school but also out in public spaces but, I was never really phased by it. I have always taken pride in my culture and the symbolic representation of my heritage i.e., my turban and beard.
You studied International Politics, have you always had an interest in this subject and why?
My interest in politics began when I was in sixth form. I studied government and politics as one of my options and decided that I wanted to further pursue this field of study at university where I studied a degree in International Politics. It covered everything from politics, sociology, history to economics, law and geography and I felt that this widened my opportunities in terms of my career prospects.
How did you get into Modelling?
This was simply by chance. A good friend and brother of mine, Nonihal Singh, put in a recommendation for me to model for Manpreet Malhi who was, at the time, working on a project for her photography degree at Hertfordshire University. Back then I didn’t anticipate that I would have many more opportunities headed my way because of this project and so, the only person I have to thank for my modelling career is Nonihal.
Were your friends and family supportive?
They have all been extremely supportive from the very beginning and it’s definitely helped me to grow in confidence and maintain perseverance.
You are the UK’s first Sikh Model how does that make you feel?
Being the UK’s first Sikh model to walk the ramp during India Fashion Week and National Asian Wedding Show feels incredible and I am definitely humbled that such organisations felt that I had the potential to be a part of their show; however, I’ve always liked to clarify that, though I was the UK’s first Sikh model to walk the ramp, I certainly wasn’t the first Sikh to enter the modelling industry in the UK (fellow brothers Jatinder Singh Durhailay, Jazz Singh, Karanjee, Sanvir Chana, Pardeep Bahra and Raja Sapra are amongst the first to take on many projects in the UK; making the south asian community very proud of their accomplishments) and I think people often think I am the first Sikh to take on the title of UK’s first Sikh model so, I’m glad you asked this question.
You have been listed as one of the top 100 Punjabi influencers. How did that come about?
I actually didn’t have any knowledge of this. My friends and family stumbled upon a publication online which is when it was brought to my attention. I was certainly grateful for such mention as every achievement is big enough to be thankful for but, at the same time, I reminded myself that this is not where it all ends, and I must continue to strive to make my mark in the creative industry.
People think that being a creative artist, model and dancer are easy things to do. But they couldn’t be more far from the truth. How much hard work does it take to do these jobs?
I personally feel that every individual has a creative element within them and so, for the ones that choose to turn their creativity into a career, it does become easy because it’s something they enjoy. This is how I feel. I feel that it only becomes hard when you’re not enjoying what you do.
You have a lot of the youth looking up to you in what you have achieved so far. What advice would you give them, if they wanted to follow in your career path?
Be patient, forever thankful and expect the unexpected. Every profession requires a lot of learning and practice to get to where you want to be. Even then, the learning doesn’t and shouldn’t stop as you can always better yourself in one way or another. You will face difficulties and be continuously challenged but, it is at these weak moments that you push yourself!
What is next for Rajvatan?
Let time reveal.