Monday, August 25, 2008

The vibrant colors of life...

I was shooting publicity stills for 'Coffeshop'-my close friend Ishaan Dutta's film in Goa, when I came across this amazingly vibrant rag-picker who was busy collecting thrown away plastic bottles from the set.
As usual,I couldn’t find my lighter, so asked this woman for a match box to light up my cigarette. She passed on the match box, giving me a casual indifferent look -completely ignoring the expensive camera in my hand. And that does hurt my pride once in a while-not that I am a show off-but it did take a lot to buy that one n deserved a longer look from anyone!
Goa is a heaven for tourists’ n film-makers …and the locals are quite used to people carrying heavy equipment around. So it was ok I guess to be ignored like that...(and if you are in India n not been to Goa- you surely are missing something)
However I loved her energy,body language n what she was wearing- the nice vibrant colors with all that metallic stuff around her neck, hands n feet. Quite a fashion statement actually! I wanted to shoot a pic but she wasn’t just in a mood and won’t smile. She asked me why I wanted to shoot her- I looked at her n said ‘because you got a more beautiful smile than the heroine in the film and I am going to ask the director to cast you in his next film’.
Now, who doesn’t want to feel good even if it’s a good joke! She just won't stop laughing after that- and I even noticed a hint of shyness spreading across her wrinkled face.
After that we had a few nice laughs n a few good pics.
I showed her the pics in the camera- she called her friends around, quite excited like a little girl ( I had to show them all one by one!) n finally said to me-
“ tu photo achee kheenchta hai”- (you take good photos...)
I hope she wasn't joking this time- it somehow always feels good to hear that!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Born free- my six best shots for Independence Day

I close my eyes n think of those who laid their lives to gift me the freedom I have today- which allows me to be what I am. I salute those who loved before me, my country-loved enough to fight for it and die, as one would fight for honor of their mother.I hold the flag of my nation, with pride in my hand-I open my arms to feel the winds of change blowing across - I feel larger than life- I feel blessed...!
I love my country as a son would love his Mother and I respect your nation as you too are a brother... We are the blessed ones who were all born free...!
Lets not fight now ever...let’s not be slaves to inhuman desires ...Lets be brothers ...let’s be friends!
Jai Hind

I am putting below six of my most favourite shots which I took for the Independence day and the reasons why I chose to take these shots...

I believe that a new India is about bringing smiles to all faces.

And before i forget-61 reasons to celebrate India- a must read article in August 2008 issue of Mumbai Touchdown.
It's fine of the finest researched n informative article I have read in recent times. A big applaud to the magazine and the art director to come up with a unique concept, also enabling me to shoot some great pics.

Life is a beautiful challenge.....!

Imagine how boring an ordinary life would be , with no probs , no worries, nothing to fight ...nothing to tackle...its the unpredicablility of it which makes life exciting...!
When u r born free...u are ready to take on challenges in life...!Life is one big it like that...! Its quite a sight in monsoons to sea these fishermen brave the wild ocean...the way they hold on to the boats...and sail across...!
And the most awesome thing is the Indian Flag on top of the boat !

I Love my freedom....

I have absolutely no words to describe this has often been reproduced in publications and yet it remains so fresh to me.

I believe I can fly...
You hold the flag of your nation, and feel the spirit of freedom in your heart n may be u too can fly....

I went to Saurabh's terrace to shoot this pic on the 18th floor, as I wanted the whole feel of a man flying across the city. More than the timing, the important thing was to get the jump and the thrust right, and most importantly hold the flag high. And my friend got it just right.

I feel larger than life- I feel blessed...!

The whole idea of shooting this perspective was to give a larger than life feel to the image- how would you really feel if you were patriotic to the core and were holding the National Flag in your hand.
Tushar's height and the extra low angle made this image to become possible.

The slight color gradation in the background to match the flag colors was achieved in photo editing .

My spirit- that would never die..! flag...that I would always hold high.

Gayatri is a trained kathak dancer , so creating that balance wasn't difficult for her. I chose that angle as I wanted her to really tower over even that 25 floor building in the background, and also keep the flag vertical. Keeping it b/w was simply to high-light the flag color and also white is all about purity n peace...and her lovely smile created the rest of the magic.

This picture was ofcourse made possible by my dear friend Priya at WSP ( The Times of India)

you can view the entire album on my photography page marked as " The spirit of freedom" by clicking on the link below:-

If their is any query regarding any images, you can mail me at

The essence of being born free...

My great grandfather was a freedom fighter. My grandfather proudly told us this a million times as we grew up; how he actually died or whom he really fought, my grandfather never went into details as he didn’t remember much,-being just thirteen year old when my great grandfather was killed.

Sometimes I even wondered if he actually was a freedom fighter or my grandfather made up that story to make us feel proud, but even if it was just a story, it was too beautiful a lie to be questioned. He made sure every Independence Day me, my sister Poonam n younger brother Vicky, remembered that story and it charged us enough to shout through the rest of the day ‘Jai Hind’. It would be only years later when we would understand the true significance and importance of being born free!

My grandfather whom we all call Dau-ji was a farmer and till date he is passionate about farming. At the age of 81, when most would prefer to laze around, he has managed to convert half of our house in Ghaziabad( a city next to Delhi) in to a mini-farm where with his khurpi (a sharp metallic tool to dig soil) he would be busy most of the day digging or sowing.
I once noticed with utmost fascination the way he moved his hand over the soil, the way he would very gently touch the plants, removing infected leaves- cleaning the vegetables, watering them; more than work for him, it appeared to me like a prayer. He laughed when I said this to him and said “my karma is my prayer. I have come from this soil and soon one day I will go back into the same soil. That’s our mother and you must learn to respect and also fight for it, if the need be. “ I found it too filmy till I read the seriousness in his eyes.

That’s the day he made me understand that the green color in our national flag indicated our relationship with the land and the plants-on which other life forms depend. I also learnt that the saffron was for courage, sacrifice and the spirit of renunciation; the white for purity and truth. And most importantly the chakra (the wheel) in the middle was the wheel of the law of Dharma which meant there was death in stagnation and life only in movement. The wheel represents the dynamism of a peaceful change.

He said the day he would stop working, he would die. He never went to school but he knew what life was all about, and what our National Flag really meant, and most of us including me, who studied all their lives, even today do not understand our own national flag, including majority of the politicians who abuse it all the time.

I can go on endlessly about the stories about Dau-ji because he has always been my hero, but the reason I remembered him all the more today was as someone asked me if there was anything really as the spirit of freedom and the relevance of mother nation in global perspective.

I paused to think about it and realized that relevance of being the son of the soil would always be there. Every land has its own energy, vibes, essence, fragrance, values n culture, which is beyond comprehension of a normal human mind. We may meet a million women in our lives, but what we feel in the comforting arms of our own mother has no substitute ever. We travel around the world, but the moment we set foot on our own soil-the feeling is inexplicable.

We love our mother, but we were also taught to respect other women, who would be mothers to our friends or neighbors…and the same sentiment has to be valued with regards to other nations-That they are the mother-nation to millions of others like us, and since we don’t disrespect our own family, we ought not to disrespect anyone else.

I remembered I had once fought my mother for some stupid reason n had shouted back up on her, telling in rude words that I won’t be answerable to her for everything and she had to respect my freedom. After 3 days to that was Independence Day and I was very excited about it, Dau-ji stared at me hard and told me, “you got no right to celebrate the Independence Day as you don’t even know its real meaning. If you cannot love and respect and love your blood-mother, you can never be true to the nation you are born in. You are just a pretender- almost a traitor.”

I almost cried but learnt my lesson. I learnt being born free doesn’t mean you got the right to do anything you want to at the cost of disrespect to your country-your mother or abandoning your own cultural-social values. We demand so much from our parents, our country, but I think we ought to take a few minutes off to think what have we actually ever given them back!
Today when I see people sending their parents to old age homes or throwing them out of their homes to live a so called comfortable life- I almost hate them –as if they are traitors to the nation- because my grandfather taught me that lesson many years back, if you can’t respect your own mother, how will you respect your nation.

You might have been born free, but before that notion of freedom comes the truth that someone gave birth to you. Our Flag is not to be held high just one day in the year …but it should forever be held high in our heart and in our lives. That’s the essence of being born free. To understand and appreciate truly what we have been given after huge sacrifices…and to uphold those values and beliefs forever and pass them on to the generation next. To become a strong arm to those who might need us and become their strength in life.

…and before I forget to tell you, I did finally ask one day about the truth behind my great grandfather’s death. Dau-ji was silent for a few minutes n finally spoke,’ he had been poisoned by some jealous villagers before India got independence’. I stared at him silently.

He smiled at me after a few moments and said, ‘I never told you before how he died or that he died fighting, so don’t look shocked! I just told you he was a freedom fighter- and yes that he was! …with patriotism in every drop of his blood and the same blood runs through your father and now you…and I know one day you will do us all proud in your own way and make a difference to a few lives in the process.’

I wish.