The Pathbreakers: This 61-Year-Old Has Defeated Clinical Depression, Obesity, Pursued Modelling At 56 And Is Giving Major Active Ageing Goals

Here’s the story of a 61-year-old who tackled severe depression and obesity and pursued modelling in the second innings of life with sheer will power. 

‘Mashallah, kya lagte ho aap. I want to look like you in my 60s’

That was what Bollywood superstar Salman Khan told senior model and actor Dinesh Mohan, 61, when they first met on the sets of the Salman-Katrina starrer, Bharat. It was an enthralling encounter for sure. “I am an absolute outsider for the film industry. I was into photography modelling when I got a call from Mukesh Chhabra, the casting director of Bharat. I had no clue that it was Salman Khan’s movie until I met him on the sets!” Mohan says.

A perfectly toned body, lots of glamour, an eye-catching style statement and signature handlebar moustache are what define Mohan, 61, a senior citizen and in-demand model, today. Be it rugged jeans or fluorescent sneakers or traditional sherwanis, Mohan fits into everything, giving steady competition to any youngster.

But back in 2004, his story was just the reverse. With a whopping 130 kg bodyweight, Mohan, then 44, had slipped into depression, become immobile, lost his motor functions and was completely bedridden for a year. For seven long years, he continued to fight obesity, panic attacks, vertigo and could hardly walk a few steps. Mohan shared his impeccable tale of transformation with us that also gifted him an interesting second inning.

Mohan was working with the Haryana government as an officer when in 2004 he gave up his job and took voluntary retirement, being unable to cope with physical and mental conditions. He slipped into a dark phase of clinical depression along with several other health issues. “You name an illness and I had it. Most of these were the outcome of my own negative thinking. After about almost a decade of suffering, I got fed up with my negativity and decided to rewire myself at 55. The first thing I did is getting back into shape and it took eight months of intense hard labour,” he says.

Light at the end of the tunnel

With immense willpower and determination, Mohan dragged himself out of home, joined swimming classes and got into a strict diet regime despite being a foodie. His driving force was being independent. “I never wanted to be dependent on anybody else during my silver years. Had I been in the same physical and mental condition I was earlier I could have never become independent. That made it possible for me to give up a lot of things I loved to become what I am today. At the end of the tunnel, I always saw the light.”

In 2016, Mohan, then 57, got his first break in modelling. He believes that modelling was in his destiny. “I did nothing to get into modelling and it just came by chance. That’s why I try to put my heart and soul into it,” he says. He has done about 2,000 ad shoots in the last four years and has worked for almost all major Indian brands including garments, jewellery, accessories and more and several international brands as well. He is often seen in TV commercials for ‘All Out’ (directed by Shoojit Sarkar), Ferns n Petals, Morri Shirts, Seven Hills Tea, and more. Mohan has even done music videos with Neha Kakkar and others and has been featured in Vogue and GQ Magazines.

Encounters of the starry kind

2019 was a turning point for his career when he got a break in the movie industry and worked with a number of superstars. He was a part of Salman Khan’s Bharat and Tapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar’s Saand Ki Aankh. He also worked with Rajnikanth in Darbar and with Javed Jaffrey in a Malayalam movie, Happy Punjabi and in a Punjabi movie called Highend Yaarian. Two more movies in which he has acted are due to release in the next few months.

In 2018, Mohan walked on the ramp at Amazon India Fashion Week. “I was the first one to walk on the ramp and open the show and I became very emotional that day. I couldn’t believe that the person who could hardly walk properly just a few years back was opening a grand fashion show with the entire auditorium looking at him and applauding him,” he adds.

Inspiring older adults to pursue their dreams

Mohan adores his job and is very comfortable working with everyone, young and adult. He believes that the fashion industry is extremely welcoming for older models and the young models always try to bridge that generation gap and gel in well with seniors.

“I have got the best projects, the best respect and the best acceptance from the fashion industry. Money is not everything for me. It feels great when older adults get inspired by me and try to pursue their dreams in the second innings of their life.”

Mohan believes that growing older has added more swag, more energy and more life in him and looking at him we would agree wholeheartedly with what Salman Khan said. Apart from modelling, he loves to travel, hang out with friends and go shopping.

About the author

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Sreemoyee Chatterjee

Sreemoyee Chatterjee is the content head of Silver Talkies. A curious and talkative storyteller, she loves spending time with and working for the older adults and getting the best for them. Sreemoyee has served as a correspondent and on-field reporter for 5 years. A classical dancer and thespian by passion, she spends her leisure by writing poetry, scripts for stage theatres and listening to countryside music.

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19 Feb, 2014

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