Spending time with the late actor at his residence was a delight, and shooting his portraits, a memorable experience
I’ve never been a movie buff, but, as a child, I enjoyed Shashi Kapoor’s films. His charisma on screen left me impressed and I had wondered if I would ever have a chance to meet him.
Years later, as a young photographer, the editor of a lifestyle magazine offered me that chance. I was thrilled. It was a feature about how he spends most of his day in his late wife, Jennifer Kendal’s impeccably-furnished room.
During those days, I was an apprentice to a well-known photographer and would spend most of my time at his studio in Napean Sea Road, South Mumbai.
On the day of my shoot with Shashi Kapoor, I went to the studio to pick up my equipment. We started quite early, but it was a festival day. It seemed like Mumbai was celebrating dahi handi in every by-lane! We were stuck in a traffic jam and would have landed up at his residence terribly late.
So, I called the magazine editor to check if I could postpone the shoot. She said that she had scheduled the article for the following month’s issue, so that would be fine. The only caveat was that I would have to follow up with the actor for the photoshoot and fix the next appointment.
I then called the actor to check if we could shoot a few days later. He empathised with my situation and readily agreed to offer a later appointment.
Days turned into weeks. I called the actor three weeks later.
He answered the phone and immediately recognised my voice. I was surprised that he remembered my name. He asked when I would like to drop by for the portraits in his warm tone. We picked a suitable day.
On the day of the shoot, I started early to ensure that I would reach well in time. He greeted me at the door, shook my hand and led me to the room where we were to shoot the photos.
The room was beautiful! The actor said that his late wife had thoughtfully chosen every element of the décor. He would maintain it, as she had left it, with absolute care. There was such love as he spoke about her – although he didn’t say very much.
Our shoot was a smooth process. He knew exactly which blocks would work for the magazine. He instructed me accordingly and I followed.
After the shoot for the feature, I requested him to let me shoot a couple of images for my portfolio… only to let me shoot these portraits my way. He laughed.
I shot two images on my Mamiya C220 professional camera with an 80mm, 2.8f Mamiya-Sekor twin lens. I love these!
It didn’t occur to me to send a copy of these pictures to him then, but I should have. He might have appreciated them too.
I treasure these pictures – not only for the chance to have known my favourite movie hero for a little while but also for having spent time with a warm and wonderful human.