Shreyas Mehta, 31, comes from Mumbai, India; lives and works in Dubai; and is finding fame as an upcoming reality TV star in the US.
It’s the telly bit that’s turning him into a minor celebrity, at least in the States. It all began with a message on his Insta account – would he like to try out for an American reality show to be shown on Bravo TV, a US cable TV network?
The show Love Without Borders involved flying five Americans out to live the next three months with a stranger, chosen by a dating coach. Week upon week, American audiences would watch if the couples’ lives together, under candid camera, resulted in romance, love and bigger commitments.
Shreyas was being asked to join the cast.
“It was a unique experience; a very bold concept,” says Shreyas, who up until then had never given television a thought. A degree in mass media followed by a diploma in fashion design, extensive ramp modelling – Lakme Fashion Week, Wills Lifestyle Fashion Week, Dubai Fashion Week and Runway-IIJW (Indian International Jewellery Week) – and a career as a fashion buyer for the past 10 years in Dubai had not exactly primed him for this “unplanned opportunity”.
Cultural reservations notwithstanding Shreyas said yes. Round upon round of Zoom interviews followed, with a range of people that included a therapist, a doctor and the show’s legal team. The upshot: Shreyas was selected. “I was excited ... nervous, shy, happy …” he recalls, as filming began.
As luck would have it, the stranger who moved in, didn’t gel with Shreyas nor with his family and friends. By the sixth episode she had to be sent off and a new person – Gabrielle Garcia or Gabby – flown in. This time Cupid could take aim and hope for results.
Love Without Borders ended this February. But Shreyas believes that with the appreciation he has received, particularly in the US where tweets around him number into the thousands, he ought to play for higher stakes now.
Which could mean any number of things, from more television shows to global cinema including Bollywood, and all things fashion. “I am going to explore,” said Shreyas, “because this is me just starting now.”
Earlier this month Shreyas and his sister Gouri Mehta launched their street meets lux brand of clothing – Flashmobnation. The inspiration behind it is the sheer effort that goes into creating well-crafted branded clothing. “Mass produced brands are inspired by the bigger brands, but how did that inspiration come about in the first place? There lies the effort. That’s the reason I am brand conscious. Because I deeply respect and appreciate that effort … because I also do the same,” Shreyas says.
“I love living with my family. It’s like meditation for me. Simple things like ... mom shouting at me about cleaning my cupboard that has kept me strong mentally.”
Through Flashmobnation Shreyas and Gouri hope men and women will recognise good tasteful fashion. “Someone wearing our clothes will definitely stand out. Having been in the industry for so long, I can judge what is different in terms of fabric, in terms of a body,” Shreyas says.
His fashion ethic guides his own choices in clothing. “I don’t buy a brand to show off; I actually seek out the hard work and the unique aspects of the design. I am a brand lover, and very specific about what I wear. I have a specific taste and a specific list of brands that I wear.”
Ever since the show, Shreyas has been living “moments I’ve never lived before”. He candidly admits that everything seems new to him, and he is trying not to get carried away.
He looks to his family to keep him grounded. Five years ago, his parents and sister joined him in Dubai, his father setting up his own business.
“I love living with my family,” says Shreyas. “Because that’s like meditation for me. It’s the simple things like being at home or even mom shouting at me about cleaning my cupboard that has kept me really strong mentally.”
Being in fashion, particularly modelling, has helped Shreyas take care of his physical health and fitness. “What motivates me to do them (modelling gigs) is that it has kept me in the best shape – in terms of my personality and personal grooming. Fashion and fitness have really blended well for me.”
Shreyas has always loved running. Aside from weekends and travel stints, morning 6.30am usually sees Shreyas down by the Dubai Marina walk running the entire 7km stretch. After work another hour or more is devoted to the gym. And then it’s usually family time. “I usually go out on the weekends,” he added.
With age and maturity Shreyas has been aiming for more balance in life. “I am the kind of person that if I do something I will do way too much of it. If I work out, then I work out way too much. I love travelling, and I might do too much of that. Whatever I do, I do with a lot of passion. I always get extreme on those levels.”
Life can get stressful, Shreyas says, which is why he prioritises his mental health. While his family is his mainstay in this area, Shreyas says: “I also find my mental health improving by completing tasks. This helps me avoid a sense of guilt. Say after a late night, I don’t go for a run, it bothers me. So now I ensure that on such days, I am still down in the morning and running … maybe not the whole stretch.”
His love for Dubai
Like most Dubai residents, Shreyas loves the city. “Dubai is now home. Of course, I love Mumbai; I’ve spent my childhood there. But now I’m a Dubai guy. I’ve travelled the world, and I feel the best city to live is Dubai in terms of what they have to offer – the lifestyle, safety and almost everything.. I don’t think there’s a better place. Dubai has a blend of everything. It’s like you are living in the entire world at one time.”
The next 10 years will no doubt be eventful for Shreyas. “Ten years ago, I never planned for 10 years after,” he says. “I’m just a go with the flow kind of guy. And every day counts.”
He does hope to see his brand go global, to be able to “open a store on Times Square, New York”!
Shreyas is also learning Spanish, as work takes him to Spain quite frequently. “I would like to live for a few years in Spain, just so I can practise the language,” says Shreyas, who is even open to doing Spanish cinema!
However, nothing will give his family as much pleasure as seeing him settling down. Shreyas has kept in touch with his Love Without Borders partner. Gabby visited Shreyas recently. “It’s a step. Let’s see,” he said.
What does he look for in a partner for life? “A great sense of humour, ambition and humility,” he says. “Someone who makes me the best version of myself and vice versa.”
It remains to be seen, in more ways than one, whether Shreyas realises the promise that his reality TV stint has held out for him.