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Saakshi Anand

Mrunal Thakur as Saakshi Anand

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mrunal Thakur as Saakshi Anand in Arjun – Har Yug Mein Aayega Ek. Truly exciting times ahead. Watch the episodes this weekend to know more.

Mrunal Thakur as Saakshi Anand

Mrunal Thakur as Saakshi Anand

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Exposed

Exposed film

Finally! Exposed two rolls of film. The one on the right is my first ever 120mm roll of film. The battle to find a lab that still develops and prints these has been going on for the past few weeks. The excitement and the anticipation of waiting to see what the pictures come out like is quite my drinking habit – gave it up a long time ago but still remember what it feels like!

Will keep you posted and if the results aren’t a complete disaster, will share with you as well!

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Inspiration: The magic of old things

” Where is your camera these days? Don’t see it much…” Behzaad asked me a couple of weeks back. “It’s always in my car,” I said, “It’s just that I am really sick of shooting all of you (the ETF team) and only you – all the time! Maybe I should have cast Katrina Kaif in Arjun,instead of you guys!!!”

“…or maybe Priyanka Chopra,” chimed in Shaleen and we all had a hearty laugh.

The truth was that I really was getting frustrated of shooting only these guys – mostly under lighting conditions that were set up by the cameraman on set. I felt that I was contributing very little, if at all, to the creation of the pictures that I post so often.  My trigger finger was getting itchy. I had not shot something for almost 15 days. Even a call from Raju Bhai, my trusted friend and camera dealer, telling me that a lens that I had ordered long back was finally in stock, failed to excite me. I almost reluctantly went and picked up the wide angle 17-35mm lens from his place late at night and got it home.

On my way to the set the next day, stuck in a Mumbai traffic jam, I started flipping through my “Inspiration” notebook. It is actually a software called Evernote which I use very often to keep quotes, pictures, photographs and other stuff  for future reference – or for times just like these. I came across this quote:

To select well among old things, is almost equal to inventing new ones. – Nicholas Charles Trublet


Then it struck me – what I needed to create/invent was already around me. I had very willing and able actors who would do (practically) anything for me and I was surrounded by lights every single day – the two most important components of photography! All I needed to do was to get them together and create a shot that I could call mine!  I had a few images in my head that I wanted to shoot as a part of a project that I had been thinking of for quite some time. I reached the set that day, determined to get my shot before the day got over. In between all my meetings, discussions and briefings that day, I kept my camera around my neck and an eye out for the frame that I wanted to capture. Finally, in the evening as everybody was  going about their work – I identified the shot I wanted to take and I quietly asked a couple of lightmen to help me setup the lights for my shot.

Behzaad Khan

As soon as Behzaad got free, I asked him to come with me and took the photograph. After him, it was Shaleen’s turn but unfortunately, by that time, the cameraman on set had ordered those lights to be brought in because he needed them. I barely managed to get Shaleen’s picture as I asked the lightmen, who were already in the process of taking the lights away to step outside the frame. If I remember correctly, both the pictures took a total of two minutes.

Also, as I thanked them and walked away, I cannot be sure… but from the corner of my eye, I think I saw Behzaad and Shaleen exchange a high-five and in between their muted laughter, I distinctly heard one of them say something about Katrina Kaif…

Shaleen Malhotra

As usual, you can find the large versions of these pictures on my Google Plus page.

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Bollywood Art Project

Bollywood Art Project

The  other day, I was doing some research for one of the stories in my TV show “Arjun” and was discussing some art related stuff with my friend Hitesh Kewalya. Considering that the subject was art and he is from NID, he did most of the talking while I just sat there with my “Yeah, I completely get it!” look. That was the first time I heard the mention of Bollywood Art Project. According to the BAP (as it’s fondly called) Facebook group page:

“Bollywood Art Project is an urban public art project that aims to transform the walls of Mumbai into a celebration of its cinema. As a build up to the 100 years celebration of Indian cinema, in 2013, we aim to commemorate Bollywood through various art works & campaigns.
BAP is the brainchild of artist Ranjit Dahiya and co-founder Tony Peter. It is an attempt at mapping the cinematic history of India over the last century. The medium is street art and graffiti set in the tone of the’ hand-painted poster, intended to open out to various other art forms also. “

Bollywood Art Project

Bollywood Art Project

Needless to say, I was quite  fascinated by the work that they are doing and as luck would have it,  yesterday, I found myself shooting in Bandra very close to where  this small cottage is.I would have completely missed it as it is tucked away in one of the by-lanes but thanks to one particular unit member who saw it and brought it to my attention, I took a small walk and shot these pictures. It is quite sight to see and if you are in Mumbai, please go and do take a look.

Bollywood Art Project

Bollywood Art Project

The Bollywood Art Project’s Facebook Page is here and the group is here.

As usual, you can see the large images on my G+ page.

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Arjun: 50 episodes

As Arjun completes 50 episodes today, I wanted to thank all the people who have been watching this show. This show has been a roller coaster ride ever since it started and being on a roller coaster for a long time is never easy.  Hats off and a heartfelt thanks to everyone involved with the show who have relentlessly given it their best  – day after day. I also want to thank all the people who have been watching the show regularly and letting us know their feedback about the show through various polls and critiques especially the small but passionate community of Arjun watchers on Forum 32. Please keep the praises and brickbats coming!!!

Arjun on Star Plus

Arjun on Star Plus

The picture above is a glimpse of what you will be watching tonight. We are working very hard to bring you even better episode of Arjun and starting from tonight’s episode there are going to be quite a few surprises. Stay tuned, keep watching and keep interacting.

 

 

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Destressing

Fountain pens

Everyone has a favourite de-stressing activity. Mine is washing my fountain pens. Wipe that smirk off – I still use them! Something about the different colours of ink flowing, mixing with water, creating colourful streams and merging makes me forget about everything – except taking pictures, of course!

Sailor pen nibs

Sailor pen nibs

And before anyone asks, the nib here is not broken or damaged. It is the Sailor “Naginata Concord” nib.

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Some unseen pictures from 2012

 

Here are some pictures that I shot in the year 2012 but  I don’t think I ever got around to posting them. Hopefully, I will dig up some more to add to these in a few days. You might or might not think that they are great pictures but they are the best I clicked, at a personal level. To be honest, I don’t think a couple of them even should be here – but that is not the point. The point is to shoot better pictures than this (and hopefully in a larger quantity!) in the coming year, so that when I do a similar titled post next year I will be able to see some journey, some growth and some added proficiency!

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Hello 2013!

Lightroom tip

I never expected my first post of the year 2013 to be this but life does have a way of surprising you! I am flat on my back due to a back problem and have been ordered two days bedrest by the doctor. I tried reading a book but that just made my shoulders hurt (Yeah! Try reading a book lying FLAT on your back without a pillow!), so here I am dictating this blog post using a dictation software. Lying alone in the room and talking to the computer – the house help has already come in thrice and asked me if I am feeling quite all right about three times since I started this!

Someone presented me with a screencasting software a while ago and I took it out for a spin and forgot about it – until today. Staring at the ceiling fan can give your life new meaning. I had made this screencast as a test and it has it’s mix of bad and terrible moments(and it’s slightly long winded too!) but hopefully it will be of some value to photography enthusiasts. Those of you who follow my show Arjun, will be please to see that a picture of Sameer Rathore has been used in the demo.

If you like it, please leave your comments and I shall try my best to create some more.

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The Yash Chopra Picture

Yash Chopra

I met him just a couple of months ago. In August, to be precise. For the first and last time. It was on a photoshoot assignment for a book. I was nervous and excited like I rarely find myself nowadays. I wanted to nail it with this one. This would be my claim to fame! Hell yeah!

Heart pounding, I got off my car and took out my camera from the bag. I had been asked to travel light by the author and publisher as I am quite notorious for hefting three or four bags into a “quick” photoshoot and looking every bit like I could give Amitabh Bachchan a run for his role in “Coolie.” I am told I don’t make a great first impression.

I decided to ignore the author’s warning and carry my bag of lights with me anyway. Hell, I am shooting Yash Chopra! Don’t  want to be caught with no lights! Ran up, ran in, cleared security at three levels and finally landed on his floor. I asked the doorman if I could leave my bag of lights outside the door of the office – I’ll take it in when I need it. The doorman said, “Sure! Will you be needing a power outlet for them later?” Bloody hell, even the doorman knows all this??? “No,” I replied, “they run on batteries!” I tried to make out if he was impressed but couldn’t tell. I wiped the sweat off my forehead, caught my breath, composed myself, took a look at my camera to check the space in the memory card and put my hand on the door handle to push it open. Damn!!! Wrong lens on the camera!!! Could I? Should I? Too late!!! Screw it!!! I entered.

I broke professional protocol twice that day. I slipped in a couple of questions myself in between the interview – with the author’s permission, of course. By permission, I mean, I kept kicking the author’s ankles until he gave me space to ask the questions. The second time was when after the interview, he asked us to move outside for the photographs because he was uncomfortable getting his pictures taken with all the trophies. I asked him to pose for a picture for me – not the book. He readily obliged and after I after I fired off a couple of shots, asked with childlike innocence,”Kaisi aayi? Achchi aayi?” (How are they? Good?)

Yash Chopra

Yash Chopra

As I looked at the back of my camera, I realised that any picture I took of him would be “a Yash Chopra picture.” Any attempt to make it mine would be futile, the watermark at the bottom right hand corner would hold no meaning. I nodded, “Yes sir.”

I shot him without lights that day. Not because he was in a hurry or had other important things to attend to but because I felt that it was rude to make him wait even for a second and it all seemed so unnecessary. Lights or no lights, right lens or wrong lens – it would always be a Yash Chopra picture.

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Dussehra

An actor dressed as the demon King Raavan

Today is “Dussehra” in India. On this day, according to Hindu mythology Lord Rama killed the great demon Ravana who had abducted Rama’s wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Rama, his brother Lakshmana, their follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue Sita. The entire narrative is recorded in the epic Ramayana, a Hindu scripture.
All over the country, this day is celebrated as a victory of good over evil and people re-enact the entire story, the climax of which culminates in giant  effigies of Ravana, filled with fireworks being burnt.

An actor dressed as the demon King Raavan

An actor dressed as Raavan

Ramleela – The re-enactment of the story of Ramayana on Dussehra. Since this tradition has existed from ancient times where it was taboo for a woman to go on stage, the role of Sita, the wife of Lord Rama, was performed by a man – a tradition that continues to this day.

Ramleela

Ramleela

As usual, you can check out the extra large versions on my G+ page.

 

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Conversion

AR Rahman playing at MTV Unplugged 2012

I am probably going to get shot for what I am about to say next. I am not an AR Rahman fan! Yeah, you read that right!

This statement has made me get into many arguments, street brawls and even a couple of pistol duels. A lot of my friends have disowned me, I don’t get invited to too many parties, I get laughed at when I walk on the street and my milkman refuses to give me credit. You get the picture. This statement has made my life more miserable than all of my other statements combined. Without justifying my taste in music (or lack of it), let me just say that I am not a fan because primarily I cannot hum his tunes. And please, do not even begin to  doubt my humming abilities because I am a three time winner of the All India Humming Championship. True.

Yesterday, I was invited by my friend Samar Khan, who is producing MTV Unplugged to a rehearsal of the show.

He called me and said,”Rahman is playing.”

I scoffed.

“Ok,” he said – “I’d have also liked you to take some pictures – but let it be.

“Bastard!!!,” I thought.

“Ok, since you insist so much, I’ll come along,” I said.

I thought I heard him laugh before he disconnected. I travelled with him all the way to another planet where the studio is located (No, I am not going to give up the location!!!) and after a long wait Mr. Rahman showed up and started rehearsing.

AR Rahman playing at MTV Unplugged 2012

AR Rahman at the rehearsal of MTV Unplugged

What I saw and heard I cannot even begin to describe in words. I saw a man at one with the Universe. His eye for detail, his quest for perfection, his attention to each note, each instrument was so complete that it was almost unreal. And the joy, the happiness, the satisfaction on his face was something that I cannot even begin to describe. The man is a genius, of that, there is no doubt.

AR Rahman

AR Rahman

 

Ever since I have come back from the shoot yesterday, I have been constantly playing Rahman’s music.

Am I a convert? No. I am trying to figure out what is it, that I have been missing. How can I be so moved by the man rehearsing and not be moved by his music? What is it? I am not going to let this one go until I figure it out.

Note: Please don’t throw stones at my car if you see me passing by and as usual, you can see the extra large versions of the pictures on my Google+ page.

 

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Abandoned faith

The tide had receded leaving behind a number of statues that had been immersed in the sea just a few hours ago. A child walked walked up to this one and looked at his father,”Ganpati is lying on the ground… We must take him home!”

The father said, “No!”, in what must have been his sternest voice. The kid had already taken hold of the Ganpati’s hand in preparation to take him home. The father in turn, pulled his child’s hand  asking him to let go and Ganpati’s hand came right off due to the force, in the child’s hand. The father yelled, “Throw it, it’s a bad omen!” – the child now panicked and promptly threw it next to the idol.

As the father dragged the child away and I bent down to take this picture, I heard the the child’s voice trailing off, “But why? Why are we leaving God like this on the dirty beach….”.

I wonder how is the father going to explain this one!

PS: Check out my G Plus page for a really large version of this picture.

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