Saturday, January 21, 2012

International photography- a few guidelines & tips- PART 2

....please read this in continuation with the PART-1 of the same...which you will find below this posting...

Adam & Eve Hotel is a multiple award winning hotel in Turkey known for its unique design elements.

Finances / Currency
Check how much currency you are allowed to carry outside India or bring in.
From India you can carry only around Rs 5000/- in cash. Unfortunately nobody really cares for Indian currency abroad, so don’t for a moment think your carrying a Lac of rupees would get you to buy anything worth while. You can now get prepaid Forex cards from certain banks, or a credit card and traveler’s checks are good. If you are in a hurry you can also convert your money into Dollars or Euros at the airport. This would be endorsed on your passport. Remember to do this before you reach the customs.
There are very strict laws to foreign currency whether carrying in or out of country. I think in cash you cannot carry more than USD 2000 on you. I am not very sure of the details, so would advise you to go online and get the right information. There is a government of India site that clearly indicates the rules and regulations regarding foreign currency.
There are plenty of options; you can check with your bank or accountant how to carry excess money. I have been with clients from India, who have taken credit cards / ATM card along to even places like Istanbul without checking if the Bank had a branch or tie ups and eventually moving to 20 dollar per night rooms from expensive Marriott just the next day. We had to put the shoot on hold for two days trying to organize money in a foreign country.
In fact unless it’s absolutely necessary, do not get in to the headache of organizing payments in foreign locations. Let the clients do it-since they are the businessmen and understand money deals better than you ever would. At least I never could!
Adam & Eve Hotel-unique design hotel with very up market lifestyle guests.
Passport/ Visa 
Passport to be in your custody at all times. That’s your only valid identity in a foreign location. Guard it with your life.
Scan your passport and other important travel documents and keep them on your email so in case of some mishap you can at least download it for referencing. Also try to keep with you the contact info of Indian embassy, which you can contact in any kind of emergency. Carry a few passport size photographs with you, in case you end up losing the passport and need to go for a new one in that country.
Tickets & Tags
Make sure all your tags are in place or you might land up at Toronto with your bags offloaded at Brussels and you would have no way of tracking them. Especially if it’s a transit flight…if you have a long flights you can book your luggage directly to the final destination and you don’t need to keep checking in and out your luggage boarding different flights. Carry strictly your own bags and not of some newly made friends. You don’t know who is who or might be carrying what.  I have seen best friends turn enemies for small things. End of the day when its trouble time-each one is for himself.
Coming back from a shoot once from Istanbul, my bag got switched with my assistant's who had crossed the green channel at Mumbai airport n I was asked to open the bag. I realized I was carrying his bag and couldn't open it. In next 5 min 20 custom officials surrounded me and made my life miserable thinking I had 'smuggled' my bag out. It took 2 hours to find my assistant who had luckily not left the airport or all my equipment would have been confiscated. It was a nightmare.
Now that's some pool n great view ! With the right lenses you can capture some great images. Adam & Eve Hotel-Turkey
Get all your insurances in place starting with medical -life insurance, over seas insurance, insurance for your equipment against theft, breakage, loss etc.
Keep your eyes open n u would find unusual things to shoot !!!

If you are bearing the cost of the production in a foreign location, its advisable to get a local insurance as well-with a little extra money you can be assured of covering the cost of a mishap on the shoot.
And if you are of the adventurous kind then make sure you have the right policies. It's actually kind of unnerving when you get out to do something with an element of danger in it and the organizers first make you sign a letter stating they are not responsible in case of a mishap leading even to death !!!
I don't know how to swim but I couldn't resisting getting on a boat n go for The Great White Shark diving experience at    South Africa and get this amazing shot of JAWS.
Attitude towards locals and their local customs
Be polite. They may not understand the words you speak but every body understands and relates to a warm smile. Make sure you respect people for their beliefs and customs. However strange it might appear to your sensibilities.
Annoying the locals is in no way a great idea. You might find that face stunning at the local vegetable market and be quick to shoot a pic of hers, next moment you might have her husband holding your you by the neck. It would really be silly to get a black eye because your eyes traveled too much on to the forbidden curves. If you really are tempted to shoot then check with someone or your local guide whether you can. Never ever make fun or you might be cooked for dinner! If you traveled to gulf you cannot even hug a woman in public or kiss her- (though you can do that to another man!).  Remember most countries are not as tolerable as ours when it comes to creating nuisance, and also stop treating the whole world as dustbin –throwing things around.
You could probably check out Lonely Planet website and read about the travel advisories. 
This sweet girl worked in the  hotel i stayed n requested if I could shoot a few pics for her-n i gladly obliged. ( Cape Town)
Keeping yourself safe
 Do not flaunt your money or equipment. This is like inviting trouble for no reason. And almost never ever pick up a fight with a local person.
If you are of the adventurous kinds and used to taking up on your own anywhere, it’s advisable that someone close to you must always know of your destination so you could be reached in case of some emergency. May be you can leave your number with the hotel you are staying in or some other local friends. At least someone must know where you are headed.
If you feel you are abroad and should have some fun with fast chicks or may be visit a local dance bar and pick up a woman? Be careful-you can have that kind of fun anywhere in your life, don’t risk your work and reputation for some frivolous act! The sexy woman you thought was hitting on you from across the bar could be a part of some racket-and you could wake up alone in the bed with your equipment or your wallet gone. Might sound far-fetched and you might be the next James Bond on the planet, but it has happened to many people before.
Staying in groups is better than being on your own. I love shooting in Cape Town. I think its heaven on earth but nothing in this world can drag me out of my hotel alone in late evenings with my camera. It’s really unsafe.

Shoot over-time for some fun n shopping- models at Soho Square -Sharm El-Sheikh
  Quick review-

  • Make a back up plan for everything that you can think of, however far fetched it may sound or least probable it might appear to be.
  • Don’t flaunt your money or equipment.
  • Create back up for data
  • Get relevant permissions
  • Never fight a local. Respect their beliefs and customs.
  • Passport to be in your custody at all times. Scans to be on your e- mail
  • Carry a proper medical kit and get all relevant insurances.
  • Credit card/ Forex rather than loose cash
  • Embassy contact info
  • Work with a credible reputed agency only

Style matters ! Live like a queen n you own the world. Shot for G-Wild at Cape Town- South Africa
I always print a checklist two days before I leave, making a note of even small things like a toothbrush and safety pins or a marker.
Once I am done with my home work- I am ready to move. I might have missed on a few things in this article but then there would sooner or later be a second part to this article because covering everything I have experienced in so many years looks a bit difficult in one article.
This might look like lot of work to do. But if you look closely its just putting these small acts in to your habit if you plan to travel frequently. The intention is not to scare you away but to prepare you for an eventuality. When we work in our natural surroundings or an environment we are comfortable in- we tend to become careless and take lot of things for granted. While you are traveling abroad-you are moving into another zone, where elements might function in a different manner. By keeping yourself alert and ready, you can perform better and enjoy more.
Go on and have fun, across the borders there is a beautiful world waiting to be explored by you.

  The article is in no way conclusive but merely shares my personal views and experiences. Always check with relevant authorities for the latest updates on various issues. If you thought that's all you need to care about- well, there are always more surprises- remember it's always important to have a back up plan in place-for everything !!! 
Copyright notice- the text and photographs in this article are copyrighted to the photographer and its respective clients and can not be published elsewhere in parts or as whole, without written consent from the photographer. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

International photography- a few guidelines & tips- PART 1

captured during photo shoot for Fashion Destination for FTV production at Thailand

I always heard it’s the same Sun that shines across Earth and same people that inhabit it everywhere. It’s right in a way. And also wrong. The Sun may be the same, but the way lights filters through the skies in different parts of the world, the way similar hand gestures can be interpreted differently across the world, the way words can sound the same and yet mean different-only a traveler can experience and only a photographer or a writer can perhaps capture a small part of it.
Across the borders lies another world. Landscapes and people that may be more, or less, beautiful than our country-but have uniqueness of their own. For a lens man it surely provides ample opportunities to explore, learn and paint with light amazing canvas filled with different emotions, colors n textures.
In spite of sleeping late, I dragged myself out of bed to shoot the beautiful sunrise right from outside my room at super luxurious Hotel Savoy Sharm ( Egypt )

In last six years I had the opportunity to travel to many countries for work that ranged from shooting for various FTV productions to advertising work, for both clients based in India and abroad. And every time I have come back with experiences worth compiling into a book.
The most significant thing I learnt was preparing your self for the worst. The most important plans in life are about backups. It’s great that you are traveling abroad for a photo shoot. You are perhaps amongst those very few who get that kind of opportunity but then are you prepared enough?
It’s better to do your homework before you leave and not just jump on to the next available flight the moment you got an opportunity to shoot. When I first started traveling I searched the entire net but could not find a single detailed article covering the basic issues or problems a photographer could face. Finally, after years of traveling I felt it was the right to share such information with the budding photographers.
This article has also appeared in FRB 2011.
This article is relevant whether you are traveling in a group or alone. I have tried mostly to cover what a photographer traveling from India on a professional assignment might face or ought to keep in mind. It may or may not be true for a few, but for most it would be a great help in understanding a few important do’s n don’ts’
Learn to use Internet well
This might sound like an odd statement at the beginning of an article of this nature, but then whether you are a photographer based in India and traveling outside country for a photo shoot, for a client based in India or abroad, nothing would help you more than spending a few hours on internet and do some research.
Whether you want models in foreign locations or tie ups with different production houses or even need an international agency to represent and market your work- every such information is available on net. You just need to get started. This article covers the most basic problems one could face while leaving for an assignment and doesn’t talk much about ‘how-to-get-work’ abroad…
 Camera, lenses and backup for data :----I have made it a habit to send my camera to a service center before traveling out of country. On top of that I usually carry another body as back up, just in case the one I use malfunctioned. In case I have a tie up with a local production than I always put another camera on standby.The lenses you carry would depend on the assignment you are going for. I usually carry a whole range of them-16-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm are a must in my kit. All Canon 2.8. I don’t want to miss on a great shot just because I forgot to carry that extra lens. If I need to use a medium format than Hasselblad is my favorite and then 35mm, 80mm and 120mm are a must.From lens cleaners to rain protection covers-there is almost everything I pack with me. I travel light and not clutter my bags with unwanted things. There is a baggage limit, on airlines, if that exceeds you might end up paying through your nose. Most international airlines the limit is 20kg-25 kg, but the problem is if you got a connecting flight to another destination within the country where you take the smaller aircrafts, the limit would be only 15 kg in most cases. So, every extra kg in your bag-you would be paying for it. The bottom line is to carry only the essentials and travel light.These are small productions costs that one generally tends to overlook.Do not forget to carry an international adapter and a small extension board along with you to plug in all your chargers.Spare batteries are important. In extreme weather conditions, the batteries die faster. You spend two days in some remote mountains and then wake up to an amazing sunrise, but you can’t shoot since your batteries have died, there is no power point and you, of course forgot to carry spare batteries.

An exotic Cape Town morning ( South Africa). Even if you are shooting for a client, you can still find time to shoot exciting pics for your own self !

  Data back up
Data back up is as important as keeping safe your passport. I usually carry two back up discs and enough space on my laptop while traveling. And while traveling back I keep them all in different bags, just in case I end up losing a bag I can not risk losing those photos for which the client has paid for. In fact, I carry one hard disc and the laptop in my camera bag (it’s a backpack I use) on my shoulder at all times. Also, the important images I select and try to upload on a server.
I shot the Presidential campaign in Sri Lanka and just after two days left for Egypt to shoot for Hotel Savoy. My back up was only on one disc and I had cleaned up my laptop since each trip easily takes about 150-200GB of images. After the shoot at Savoy, one of the models wanted few pictures of her from the shoot. I gave her my disc and she connected to her Mac book that immediately asked for the option of turning it in to a time machine. Even while I watched in utmost horror, within seconds all the data was erased from the disc. Imagine losing 200 GB of data that included not just the raw files of the campaign but many beautiful landscape and street shots of Sri Lanka- all gone in just a click of the mouse.
Lesson learnt-never ever handover your data to anyone! Even if it’s the client, unless you have safe back ups!

Lot of time to get it right but loved it ! Shot at famous Beach Club at Thailand
Customs, Airports & Immigration
International travel makes you humble n polite. If you are not so, then somebody would be kicking your butt in some part of the world.
Don’t brag or boast un –necessarily, no body cares a damn how popular or well connected you are in your country. Unless you are a Shah Rukh Khan or a Brad Pitt…in fact, most places they don’t care about that as well!
Before boarding the flight, read carefully what you can and not carry in the hand baggage. There are new rules and regulations as pat of the security measures. There are whole lots of things you cannot carry in the hand baggage including any kind of liquid more than 100ml, stuff like scissors or even your flash batteries or lighter. It kind of pains when you forgot to remove your rechargeable cells from flashlight and you are carrying in your handbag, they would simply take it out at the security and throw into a dustbin. Put them in your check in baggage.
The airport security will scan you, make you open your bags, take off your shoes n belts…and mostly probably treat you like a terrorist or insignificant human being-but then it doesn’t really matter, they are just doing their job.
Good to have a great sense of humor but at the immigration or customs keep it to your self. A friend of mine was once asked that the picture on the passport didn’t look like hers, she smiled and said –yes it’s fake! The officer wasn’t amused and made her wait for two hours.
Most light bags got steel rods or some kind of metal fitted in for support-there is every possibility they would scan it ten times to figure out some weapon and then eventually you would be asked to put it in the check-in baggage, so its very important to pack your equipment very carefully. Don’t for a moment think they are really bothered about the safety of your luggage, even if they put a ‘fragile’ sticker on the bags. They make you sign a declaration form and then toss around your bags on conveyor belts as if they actually want to break whatever you are carrying.
Get an export certificate from customs, which would have complete details of all the equipment you are carrying along with serial number, date of purchase and estimated value. On your way back you need to cross through the red channel and declare the equipment you are carrying and show them the export certificate. They are very nice while you are boarding from here-once you are back they would be the meanest guys on planet and make your life miserable if you don’t have a proof that equipment was bought in India before you left or that you carried it from India on the trip. It means that if in spite of obtaining the export certificate, do not try to pass through the green channel without declaring your equipment or you might end up being harassed for hours.
Do I need to mention it has happened to me couple of times?
The model relaxes by the sea after campaign shoot is over ! Istanbul !
Permissions n Licenses
Get a work permit to shoot! You are not even allowed to shoot on the streets of Mumbai-how do you expect to shoot anywhere else in the world with out a work permit? Though there are a few countries that are quite flexible in that but better do your complete homework on it. Insist upon it even if the client says its not required. Tell him to give it in writing that the equipment is going to be his responsibility and he will ensure your complete safety in all such matters.
Model Release Forms
Whether you are shooting with professional models or some pretty local girl, if you intend to use that picture for commercial purposes then ensure you get a proper model release form signed. Carry printed copies with you.
I am trying to get a clear shot of the Mosque as we zip through Istanbul city for our shoot !
Food n Health-
You are a vegetarian? Too bad! You are going to come back a few kg less. In many countries even potatoes are served with some non-vegetarian topping. If you are staying in the same hotel for a few days-it’s better to speak with the chef and explain so they can guide you properly what food you can have. Bread n butter of course is the best bet! In fact, you can perhaps make it a habit to carry dry fruits or chana or even packs of peanuts to do the occasional filling for your tummy-rather than buying a KFC burger all the time.
If you are addicted to tea and smoke while shooting-Europe is going to be quite a dent in your pocket. I mean it’s not funny when you end up paying 4 Euros for a cup of tea or a bottle of water. So carry your green tea sashay n get used to black tea or green tea.
Make a complete first aid kit for yourself depending on your history of illness keeping in mind the occupational hazards. Backaches, headaches n muscle spasms are so common in outdoor shoots. Not to mention slips n cuts. My kit usually has medicines for airsickness, cold, allergy, and acidity along with fever. I even carry eye drops, ear drops, nose drops, muscle relaxants, painkillers, hot water bottle and even anti-termite creams. I had gone for White Shark Diving in South Africa to shoot the Great White Shark-when I let the infected water seep through my wet suit and had boils and painful rashes all over my body for next three days.
Medicines abroad may be expensive or may not even suit you at times. So, its ideal to give your self a few minutes and determine what all to carry-however improbable it might sound at that moment. Avoid traveling in case you are already experiencing some kind of allergy or infection. You might spread it to others or just make it worse for yourself.
You can even have injections for flu or available vaccines before you leave. In fact, those who travel very regularly must try and get hepatitis A & B vaccines as well. There are parts of Africa where it’s a must to have yellow fever vaccinations before you leave. Do not decide anything on your own- let your doctor take a call on that. 
Great hospitality is a tradition at Hotel Savoy Sharm. One such moment (Sharm El Sheikh -Egypt)

The views expressed in this article are based on my travel experience and are not in any manner conclusive. Please get your research material right n updated through confirmed sources.
Copyright notice :-The text and images from this blog are copyrighted to the photographer and its respective clients and can not in any manner, in part or whole, be reproduced anywhere, without the prior written permission from 'pravin talan photography'

  • Finances / Currency
  • Tickets & Tags
  • Insurance
  • Attitude towards locals
  • Personal safety
  • Documents safety


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Diary 2011-Veena Malik for Libas campaign-the timeline !

How does a photographer line up his shoot during the course of the day? Well- read on- an hour by hour account of the photo shoot with Veena Malik

 Time line

 4.00am           Call time for make up n hair at the new store of Libas at Juhu. Veena is a professional, reaches dot on time! I brief the make up artist Sunil Patil and hair stylist Tabassum on phone and head straight for the beach rather than going to Juhu. 
6.00am           Reach location at Madh Island. Does not look as great as I would have expected, would have to make the best out of it somehow. I don’t know why people expect beaches of Mumbai to be the same as of that of South Africa.
6.30am           I do a few test shots . All looks good and sorted with everything under control –but then ‘all good’ lasts barely 20 min.
7.00am           A bunch of local boys gather, create a scene and pick up a fight  with the designer. Looks impossible to continue shooting. While they keep fighting I signal Veena to keep posing so we don’t go back empty handed if fights got worse and we had to stop shooting.Seems funny now when I think about it- ten guys fighting, abusing n screaming and two people silently trying to steal a few shots.
7.30am            Argument subsides and the guys leave after a bit of persuasion from another local. Over night drinking sessions leave little scope for reasoning n peaceful dialogue.
8.00am           Laptop battery dies, camera ( medium format-Hassleblad) mal functions and looks like it’s  my turn to take the crap. I want to kill the camera attendant and ask him quietly if he can fix it. Apparently he needs time and it was getting hotter by the minute. I tell the designer to get the outfit      changed and do the second shot instead of wasting time.
1st change complete. Veena has to change the outfit now, uses the clients big car as a make shift changing room.

9.00am           Veena is ready. Make up sorted. Still waiting for the camera and the laptop. Everybody getting anxious. I take out my back up camera- my trusted Canon 1Ds mark-3. Has never failed me yet in last 3 years and I realize I would any day get better pictures in that environment with this camera.
9.15am           We find a bed of rocks a little ahead and walk towards it. Veena is quite adventurous that ways and knows how to use a location. She asked if she could lie down on the rocks. I wasn’t very sure considering it was an expensive bridal outfit. Riyaz was more than   happy and we got some hot pictures on the rocks. The water had by then started rising dramatically. That’s the only thing I hate about shooting on the beaches. The high tides can be pretty tricky. Before you know you are swimming.
In moments we were in knee-deep water and as I walked through,without knowing what lay beneath my feet, I got worried about a possible slip and damaging the camera. Though we all managed to walk out safe. I like that girls spirit.
 10.00am           It’s very hot and humid and the entire team is hungry and thirsty. Some one forgot to get a production guy and organize breakfast n  water. Its all right- happens sometimes. Though I am very possessive and protective about my team and believe in taking good care of them. And they know about it-so we laugh and joke about it and then grab something to eat on the way to the city.
 11.00am-1.00pm           It’s a two hour break since Veena has to go to the hotel, freshen up and come back to the store where entire media had gathered up to cover the photo shoot and get her interviews.
I meanwhile slip out for another client meeting for the next day's shoot.

1.00 pm           The camera attendant has already reached with a back up camera body and a full charged laptop. I still keep my Canon with me. I loved the results from my camera at Madh Island- the wide-angle lens gave a unique perspective and bodyline. I decide to use both alternately.
 It’s madness at the store. There are 40 media people on the first floor and as many on the ground floor and in the cafĂ© next to the store- and all of them want to cover the hyped up ‘back less photo shoot of Veena Malik’- whatever that’s supposed to mean !!!
1.30pm          I conceive a shot for Veena between the mannequins at the display window. Makes an unusual picture and gives media too something different to shoot.
Within next 30 minutes I realize that everybody is now keen only on the media mileage and creativity or getting the garment right was hardly of any value-after all Veena at that point of time was of great media value right after The Big Boss stint.
I reluctantly oblige since my time was given to the client-it was up to him how to utilize it in the best possible manner.

2.30pm           The last change I decide to do on the first floor so media got a glimpse and over all feel of the entire store. Wrapped the shot in 5 minutes flat as the PR guy insisted on getting Veena’s bytes for the media.
Riyaz asked if I could stay back and shoot later but I politely refused since my working hours were over. It was up to him to utilize them in the best possible manner and I think we had managed pretty well by then.
I wasn’t too keen on giving the bytes and putting myself in front of the cameras-it hardly matters. I am still not a media savvy ‘Bollywood’ photographer- so I packed my guys and left a happy media with the ‘Backless-choli photo shoot of Veena Malik’

  One week later : - Saw the hoardings splashed all over the city. Looked fine to me though could have been designed better.I think whatever one might say about Veena- she loves the camera and vice versa. She is dedicated, adventurous, fun and very professional to shoot with.
On the publicity material she looked good, clothes looked great, the news was on all the channels and everybody was happy. That’s what matters more I guess.
And me? Well I shoot n forget most of the time. There is always something new to look forward to.
In fact the only words me and Veena exchanged through out the day was a “hello” :)
 P.S.- If you have not yet been to Riyaz Gangji’s Libas store then you must check out- he has got some really good stuff. And for those who may not be aware- Veena Malik is a well known Pakistani actress more known in India for her stint at Big Boss.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The making & launch of Shakti Mohan Dance Calendar

I don't know whether I can rightfully say that it's India's first Dance Calendar but then surely it's a unique effort by an artist so young. And it was every bit fun for me to create something so different. It's not every day that I get to shoot someone who looks stunning n dances so beautifully.

I always believed poetry was written but then I have seen poetry dance. That is what I felt when I saw Shakti dance at the launch event n I told the same to the anchor when she asked me to speak about my experience with her.
How it all started ! I have known Mukti for a while. She is a model and Shakti’s sister. She always told me how fabulous a dancer Shakti was and I must someday shoot pictures with her. Time just went by -Shakti meanwhile won Dance India Dance- a dance based reality show on Zee TV n became a sensation amongst the youth.
She recently met n asked if we could do a few dancing shots. I felt here was a girl who deserved a calendar with 12 pics and not just a few random shots. I already had six calendars to be shot, designed n printed in December. In spite of a crazy work schedule I suggested her to do her own calendar.
She got so super excited that I didn’t have the heart to tell her, its almost impossible to do twelve different pics in one day. Shooting body form is tricky and particularly dances since it’s all about timing and then each muscle in the body has its own communication, which needs to be lit up well and captured properly otherwise it loses its impact.
But then the idea of the calendar grew upon us all and a date was fixed. I decided to go minimalistic in terms of using props and focus totally on the body n the lighting. Even the outfits were kept mostly simple except for the two gowns with lot of flare designed by Josie to get some nice movement shots.

Shakti n her sisters had absolute faith in my work so there was no problem in getting her to do what I would want to shoot. In fact, after a while I just set her free n told her to simply feel the music n dance-all I did was capture the moments. 

It was almost a perfect shoot but for that one moment when she slipped on the floor n fell with a thud on the side ways-injuring her knee badly. It could have been really fatal and if something had gone wrong I wouldn’t have forgiven myself for the rest of my life. After all it’s the responsibility of a photographer to take care of his model n ensure their safety however adventurous they might be.
Luckily it was just a bad bruise n she was up and running after 3 days of bed rest.

  Once the images were shot- a date for the launch was set. But then December is a crazy month- choosing the right images, getting the right editor, designer, & printer looked too much of a task as neither one of us was free to sit n get it done-n its difficult to find people to match your vision.
I remember when Shakti sent me the first design-I almost wanted to kill the designer- he had absolutely ruined the images by putting fire n water splashes and God know what not- behind the pictures. I am forgetting the guy’s name or would have loved to mention it here. Eventually an old designer friend Abhinav (from Delhi) came to the rescue creating a simple yet classy design where the total focus was on Shakti n her movements unlike the previous designers.

You must have already viewed the video of the making of the photo shoot-it was being edited right till 30 min before the calendar was supposed to be launched!!! It was too much of work for everyone involved to meet the deadlines and pull off a successful launch in the end. I am just so impressed by the sisters’ bonding. I don’t think this shoot would have been possible at all without Mukti taking complete charge-from pre production to the post production-juggling between her own work schedule she managed to put things together and get everything sorted-not to mention her friend Karan Arora whom I saw many times, himself shooting all day n then managing to find time to do odd jobs related to the calendar launch.
The calendar was aptly named Nritya Shakti by her father n unveiled at Sky Lounge on the evening of 29th December.
The show started with Niti Mohan performing n dedicating a beautiful song to her n the evening. She has a mesmerizing voice n looked utterly gorgeous on the stage. Niti is herself extremely popular; one of the key singers in A.R. Rehman’s concerts worldwide, n was such a treat to the guests and the media.
I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people from the Dance fraternity present for the launch to bless Shakti for her singular efforts. Right from Remo d' Souza, Terence Lewis, Marzi Pestonji, Ganesh Hegde, Sandeep Soparkar and Zee TV's Dance India Dance team along with M.D. & CEO of Zee Mr. Punit Goenka - everyone was there-it surely would be encouraging for anyone.

Zee went out of the way to promote the calendar and its favorite artist- and its an encouraging sign that channels should finally see potential in promoting such events.

Like one journalist at the launch event asked me if DID had made her a star n I politely told him it was not the show that made her a star but her ‘performance’ in the show that made her a star. I strongly believe any show, any film or any other such thing is merely a platform for the talent to rise. And real talent in times grows far beyond such platforms. DID is doing a fantastic job in providing such vast platform to newcomers, but then so did Boogey Woogey for many years-eventually it’s up to the talent to find their own way to larger success beyond a certain point. Nevertheless I am totally impressed by the reach n popularity of DID n can see its on its way to becoming one of the top shows of the country and I hope with its current dedicated team it continues to churn out potential stars.
DID has done its bit but if Shakti's acting is as good as her dancing-I can already see a new Bollwyood star in the making.

And as far as I am concerned, I can't wait to shoot the next talented girl who walks up to me with as much talent n enthusiasm..:)