22 January 2017
Atul Kasbekar speaks about the style statements of Bollywood actors; shooting for his upcoming calendar and more
Fashion photographer and a Bollywood producer, Atul Kasbekar says he enjoys the process of multi-tasking. Back with one of the most awaited calendar shoot of the year, Atul stuns us with his latest photo shoot. In a candid chat, he spills beans about what new the calendar has this year, his experience of being a producer for the first time and more. Excerpts…
The glimpses of your calendar shoot this year looks absolute stunning. How was your experience this time?
The Kingfisher Calendar shoots have always been location led. And I have been fortunate to shoot at some of the most incredible places on the planet. This year was no less and we were fortunate enough in the magical island of Mykonos. Mykonos, the quality of light and lack of humidity makes it an extremely comfortable location to shoot in. The team and I were putting in 14 hours a day without a demur.
You have been associated with Kingfisher Calendar photo shoot for more than a decade now. Do you feel the pressure of coming up with something new and meeting the expectations each time?
It is an expectation that I am happy to take the responsibility of. Since I was a part of the initial process of conceiving the calendar, I treat it very personally and give my 110 per cent every year. Expectation management in the life of a professional is part of the job description and I am delighted that I have the continued support and trust of United Breweries.
You have shot and brought to spotlight many actresses who today are pretty well known faces; be it Deepika Padukone or Katrina Kaif. Tell us something about it.
To be honest, it’s not something we thought of when we started. When I asked models I knew for the first edition in 2003, I got polite refuses from the seasoned veterans that time which left us to look for people who has some kind of international exposure and would be keen to explore a swimsuit space. In my head we wanted to do a cross between iconic Sports Illustrated and The Pirelli Calendar and the talent which came on board mainly Katrina Kaif, Yana Gupta, Ujjwala Raut, Shivani Kapur and Vidisha Pavate, all had worked internationally. The first year was such a hit that there was no looking back. Since we have taken great care to make sure that women are always beautiful and sensual in a very nice way, our phone has since rung off the hook for the next 14 years for the talent asking to come on board.
Kingfisher Calendars mostly feature new faces every year. This year there seems to be some known faces like Nora Fatehi. Any specific reasons?
To be fair, Nora is not known as print model at all. She is an exquisite dancer and has done some roles in Hindi cinema. To use her as print model was a first. I expect as always a spotlight to fall on all our talent in 2017 edition. While some may go to the stratosphere like their worthy predecessors, it is a guarantee that all of them will go to at least in the next orbit.
You debuted as a producer with Neerja. How was your experience as a producer?
As a first time producer, I couldn’t ask for more. When we started this project we wanted to make an extremely honest film and follow our own heart and not necessarily take advice from any and all who tend to offer it. I have always believed that my dear friend Ram Madhvani is a genius and is delighted that we had an opportunity to showcase him as such. You could say that the producer bug has bitten us at bling and we will continue to make movies of subjects we believe deserve their time on cellulite.
Do you want to continue producing more films in future? If so, will photography take a backseat?
I honestly like the process of multi-tasking. We just shot a campaign for a reputed watch brand and are working on an international campaign for M.A.C professional and one for an alcohol brand. People know me as photographer and I genuinely enjoy the process. I don’t intend stooping there. Hence, I juggle my time effectively between movie production, celebrity management and photographic assignments which turn me on. I will always remain a photographer.
Tell us something about your background. Did you always have a keen interest in photography?
I was studying to be a chemical engineer and quit it in the second year because I did not enjoy it. I was very clear that I did not want to go to work for a single day in my life. I figured long before 3 Idiots released that if I truly enjoyed what I did then it will never feel like working. Mercifully that panned out okay.
Photography which was considered as a mere hobby few years before is now becoming mainstream career choices of many youth. What is your advice to them?
Personally, I feel that you need to be good at what you do and this is even truer in professional life photography. I see too many people who want to be a photographer because they want to make money. So here are the rules, if you don’t love the process of making a photograph, you are never going to be successful so please ask yourself that key question before you delve on it as a career. However, if you love the process, it is an invigorating experience. Having said that, my accountant, who has no interest in movies or cricket or anything else, is seriously turned on if I ever pick up a call to discuss numbers. Just as photography turns me on, the process of accounting is a high for him. You must necessarily love what you do and never go to work.
Any Bollywood actor or actress that you would love to shoot? Why?
I haven’t shot Alia Bhatt and I haven’t yet shot enough with Anushka Sharma. I would like to correct that soon.
Who do you think is the most well-dressed actor and actress in Bollywood?
I think most people are very well turned out and that is a function of the stylist who are working on the actor’s team. But I will name a few who I think are inherently stylish on their own accord as well. Amongst the women, I believe Sonam Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut have pretty much charted their way to the top of the style table. Amongst the men, I think no one else can carry on what Ranveer Singh can. He is in a league of his own. But Arjun Kapoor, Rahul Bose and Ayushmaan Khurana are very stylish on their own accord.
Any acting aspirations?
I never had any acting aspirations.