Challenging yet Charming

Brad Pitt was to be photographed in broad daylight and no one was supposed to know that he would be coming to get photographed. And to top it all, he was coming to Mumbai and Mumbai had to appear in the picture with him without the knowledge of the anyone, most importantly not the media. In today’s time and age when everyone has a camera on their mobile phone, it did seem like a little challenge. But, what is life without such exciting challenges!

A day prior the Netflix team and I met at the Oberoi Hotel and went about scouting locations, only to realize that at 3 in the afternoon in the scorching Mumbai heat it would be next to impossible to take Brad out of the hotel premises for a shoot. But, we had to show Mumbai in the frame. We decided to create a platform at the end of the swimming pool area for him to stand on with the Marine Drive as the backdrop.

At 3 in the afternoon the following day, Brad arrived sharp on time all the way from Japan and I made him board the stage, with diffusers cutting the burning sun from the top and flashlight balancing the bright light to get the right exposure, we shot for hardly ten minutes or so and whisked him out of sight even before anyone could get a smell of him.  For those involved, this shoot was no less than a small war of sorts. Ironically, the shoot was for the promotion of his film called ‘The War Machine’.

 

From ‘following’ to being ‘followed’   

I have been extremely blessed to have not only one but several mentors who have been kind enough to selflessly extend their guidance and support whenever I have had the fortune of interacting with them. One such legend has been none other than the dance maestro, Astad Deboo, with whom I have had the blessings of not only photographing but even collaborating on several projects across the globe.

He is 70 plus today and I saw him perform on stage for the first time when I was only about 5. It was way beyond me to even think of dreaming to work with him, but as luck would have it, not only did I get to work with him once, but got the opportunity several times over. It was during this time that I discovered the secret to his indomitable spirit to consistently create magic through his dance in over 70 odd countries over and over again. And the secret to this lies in his honestly towards his craft, his unmovable determination and focus and most importantly his rock-solid discipline without which no matter how much talent God would have been kind enough to gift you, it is impossible to keep oneself motivated to keep on aiming for higher and higher levels of excellence for over half a century.

Indeed, there isn’t any substitute to honestly and discipline, if one wishes to live his or her dreams forever.

Thank you Astad Sir.

Lights, Camera, Fog

While the beauty of the Taj Mahal is an epitome of love, the majestic structure and one of the wonders of the world, calls for a treat to the eyes. While they say – Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, all eyes fathom the beauty of the Taj Mahal irrespective of the beholder. With natural lighting at its dimmest point and fog masking the picturesque Taj Mahal; the camera lies steadily all equipped to capture “beauty”!

This picture dates back to 19th October 2008, exactly 10 years ago since this date. I was on an assignment to cover the visit of the crowned Princess Victoria of Sweden to India. She was scheduled to visit the Taj Mahal at 9 am in the morning, the same day.

I was awake by dawn, on the foggy morning. I thought it would be a good idea to shoot the Taj Mahal in all its glory from across the Yamuna river, before heading out to photograph the Princess.

To my amazement, there it was! The rising sun softly kissing the monument through a misty October morning with a murmuration of birds taking flight over the river Yamuna made the moment mystically beautiful for me to not miss catching it in my little black box.

Sometimes all we need is a little push from our own selves to experience the wonders of the world. The picture says it all!