Once-upon-a -time model Gitanjali Nagpal who scorched the ramps with the likes of Sushmita Sen a decade back, is living a life that could easily make a film script.
An alumnus of Lady Shri Ram and Mount Carmel college, she was found by a tabloid daily, on the footpaths of Delhi, disheveled, dirty and on drugs.
What made a beautiful promising model slide down from a world of catwalks and dreams to a life literally in the gutters? Gitanjali's story is now being aired nationwide and ironically, she is in the limelight once again.
According to her family, which comprises her mother, sister and younger brother (her father is no longer alive), things began to go very bad once Gitanjali gave up her career as a designer for modeling. After a stint in fashion design at the South Delhi Polytechnic, her sister Madhulika claims she got a couple of prestigious assignments, including Lakme. Then her ambition took flight.
Gitanjali moved to Mumbai, fell into bad company and took to drugs. From then on her life was a never-ending tunnel of men and the desire that undid her, the next shot of drugs.
She moved from Mumbai to Nepal, and then Goa, where she found a Briton who loved her but who finally left her.
Two months back, the model started staying in Delhi's Hauz Khas village area, where according to a restaurant manager, she once ordered lunch but never paid up. Instead she kept ordering more food till midnight before being thrown out.
Says Gitanjali's mother: "We have not seen her for the past three years. Every time she comes, she wants money. But it all goes into drugs and alcohol."
" My mother gave all her jewellery to Gitanjali. She has to understand that we don't have anything left," says Madhulika, in response to why her sister does not stay at home.
Still, Gitanjali's family says they are willing to help her once she agrees to go into rehab.
As of now, the Delhi Commission for Women has obtained permission from the metropolitan magistrate, Karkardooma Courts, to get Gitanjali medically examined at AIIMS.
After the story was published on Monday, Gitanjali was taken by the Delhi Commission for Women first to a police station and then to Vimhans, a hospital that deals with mental health.
Yet according to the doctors who are treating Gitanjali, other than being covered with rashes, unhygienic, abusive and irritable, she is yet to show the withdrawal symptoms of a junkie.
Says Dr Jitendra Nagpal, consultant psychiatrist at Vimhans: "It has been more than 24 hours that Gitanjali has been under a public eye. But so far, she has not shown any withdrawal symptoms so characteristic of a drug addict. We did not find her craving for drugs; neither did she suffer from cramps or red eyes. So may be she is not an addict."
These findings contrast with what Gitanjali's sister Madhulika, had informed the media on Monday.
According to the hospital staff, Gitanjali was cordial and co-operated with the doctors. She reached the hospital around 11:45 pm on the Monday night after Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) obtained court permission to start her medical treatment.
''She was violent and refused to get down from the car and had to be forced into the hospital. She was administered certain psychotropic drugs after which she slept for eight hours,'' a staff member was quoted.
The shocked fashion industry admits a lifestyle of stress, unrealistic expectations and extreme pressure to ' look good' may have pushed Gitanjali to a life of drugs.
Designer JJ Vallya, who recalled meeting Gitanjali who poccessed a 'very photogenic structure' was quoted: "All creative fields have a lot of pressure on people. In the fashion industry, thousands come and try to make a mark but very select few make it. And even after you've made it, you have to deal with pressures like extended work hours, multiple assignments and the pressure of having to look good as long as possible. Modeling is a time-bound career and the level of stress is very high."
Noted fashion designer Aparna Chandra added: "There is a struggle in every profession but generally ones in the limelight like cinema or fashion are worse. The quality of stress in the glamour world is different especially for models. They are constantly under pressure to look good and maintain themselves and sometimes it gets too much."
As for sound bites from the riches-to rags model, whom her friends described as 'creative, ambitious and different', this is what she had to say: "The world is so humiliating and mean. It won't let you live."
Yet, she shows some hidden fire burning in her as she adds: ""I would like to do a new portfolio.
"I would also like to participate in the forthcoming Wills Fashion Week."