Life Is A Still Photo

April 3, 2014 , by Sewa Bhattarai, Leave your thoughts
Life Is A Still Photo » My Dreams Mag
Rohan Shrestha is a photographer currently working in Bollywood. The son of famous photographer Rakesh Shrestha, Rohan was born and brought up in Mumbai. Today he continues his father’s legacy of bringing out the best in stars that are constantly in the public eye.

Initially overshadowed by his father, Rohan has now found his own style. DREAMS catches up with the interesting youngster, all of 29, to talk about his interest in photography (which is not as obvious as one would believe), his passions, his experience of shooting with stars, and his views on the art of photography!


How did you get interested in photography? I guess it’s obvious, with a father like Rakesh Shrestha?

Actually, it’s not so obvious. Bollywood photography was the last thing on my mind. It’s true that I grew up with cameras all around me, but I never really took it seriously. I was more into travelling, ever since I was 17. So now it’s been 12 years since I have been backpacking across Europe.


Have your travels ever brought you into Nepal?

Yes, I come there often. I have a huge extended family out there. The last time I was there was in 2010.


Do you speak Nepali?

I understand Nepali, but I have a hard time deciphering Newari. They speak so fast!


So, back to your interest in photography!

When I popped into New York during my Europe travels, I started taking photos with a simple point and shoot camera. I liked what I shot, and started playing with them, photo-shopping the images and things like that. At that time photoshop had just started, and I was having so much fun.


So what brought you into Bollywood?

I started photography as a profession in 2009. I was just taking small projects here and there, nothing serious. One day in June 2010, the editor of Filmfare called me and asked me if I was free. I was, and guess what? I was asked to do this cover shoot with Ranbir Kapoor. After that, everything fell into place, I was just given more and more assignments.


Ranveer Kapoor

Ranveer Kapoor. Copyright: Rohan Shrestha

How was the shoot with Ranbir Kapoor?

My father’s first shoot almost thirty years ago was with Ranbir Kapoor’s mother. And when I shot Ranbir Kapoor thirty years later, it was like history repeating itself. I took it as a sign, and continued in the same path. Suddenly I was carrying on my father’s legacy.


What is it like to shoot with stars? Do they throw starry tantrums?

Stars are different on and off the camera. What they show on camera is just a persona. As a photographer, you do have to learn how to give them directions, because as actors, that is what they are used to. Off camera, they are just regular people. I love to shoot them as they are, in their spaces. Where they are comfortable, maybe just watching movies or chilling out.


Have you ever been star-struck?

Oh yes, many times. When I was shooting Amitabh Bachchan, my hands were literally trembling. This was a GQ shoot, I was 25, and there was Mr. Bachchan with his booming voice. How could I expect to be calm? And the same thing happens when I see Shahrukh Khan, though I have not had the opportunity to shoot him.

And then I chased down Javier Bardem in New York. I just saw him walking down the street, and I went after him and said Sir, I am a big fan of yours, it’s a huge thing for me. And he agreed to the photo!


Imran Khan and Anushka Sharma

Imran Khan and Anushka Sharma. Copyright: Rohan Shrestha

Who is your favourite star to shoot with?

I can’t say one name and risk displeasing the rest of them! (laughs)


Just the top three then?

Ranbir Kapoor, he is so calm and chilled during shoots. Ranbir Singh, he is so hyper, has this infectious energy about him. And Sonam Kapoor, there is absolutely no one like her. She just transforms when she is in front of a still camera. You don’t give her directions; she is the one who is bubbling with all sorts of ideas. Things just go according to her plans, everything is in perfect synchronization, and the shoots come out fabulous every time. She is simply the best thing in front of a still camera. And I say this after I have shot almost all the Bollywood heroines of this generation.


Which is your work that you the proudest of?

There’s this shoot with Sonam Kapoor called Mime. It’s where Sonam puts on heavy white paint on her face, and the shoot is completely in black and white. It was an inspired idea! The best thing about the shoot was that my dad went gaga over it. It’s not everyone who dares to put that kind of paint on a pretty lady.


Sonam Kapoor

Sonam Kapoor. Copyright: Rohan Shrestha

Coming to the subject of your father, was it hard growing up in the shadow of someone so famous?

It has its pros and cons. The con is that you are always, always compared. Priyanka Chopra and many other stars of this generation started out with my dad. So when I go to shoot them, they are like, Oh, your dad used to do this, he used to shoot like that. In the beginning it made me nervous. When you are treated like a kid it puts you in a shell. I used to wonder if my work could ever compare to his, because he has been so much admired and appreciated. But it also makes you want to do better. Now I have found my own style, and am not so nervous anymore.


And the pros?

The obvious pro is that my dad has worked with every star in Bollywood, so in a way I need no introduction. Once I had to shoot Saif Ali Khan, and I had never met him. But as soon as he heard my name, he asked me if I was related to Rakesh Shrestha. When I said yes, he reminisced for ten minutes about how he and my dad went to the Mauritius to shoot in the ‘90s. So it’s like I get a nice ice-breaker with stars everywhere I go, which makes me and the subject comfortable. A newcomer would have to work quite a bit to get to that stage.


Is photography an art?

It most definitely is. In fact, the word photography itself means “creation of light.” I believe photography is painting with light. With the digital age, anyone can shoot photos. But true art still lives.

And then again, art is vast and subjective. All forms of expression are art, even graffiti. Art is about the statement you want to make, and photography has been used to make political statements, religious statements.


Ranveer Singh

Ranveer Singh. Copyright: Rohan Shrestha

What’s the most important part of a photo? Is it the subject, the lighting, the composition, or something else?

All of these are important, when you are on an assignment. You are responsible to the actor you are shooting with, to the magazine you work for, to the readers, to a large public out there. So you have to be careful, make it pretty.

But when you are shooting for yourself, it’s a different matter. I myself like to shoot vast, panoramic landscapes. And I think the camera should be an extension of your eye, it should click what you want to see.


Is photography sustainable as a profession?

It is not just sustainable, but very lucrative at the moment. There is a huge market out there for skilled photographers. And I think it is the best job, for ten days a month you shoot to earn money, and the rest you can shoot to explore your passions.


What are your future plans?

I was in New York recently for six months, and that kind of changed my entire perspective on life. I met Prabal Gurung and we got talking about Nepal and all sorts of things. I took a course on short filmmaking and I have five scripts I would like to work on in future. I am talking to producers about them. And apart from that, of course I would like to continue my travel photography.


Did you write the scripts yourself?

Yes, I did.


Sonakshi Sinha

Sonakshi Sinha. Copyright: Rohan Shrestha

You are involved in so many things, photography, scriptwriting, filmmaking. Which of them do you like the most?

I began with photos, and to myself I will always be a photographer. I look at life as a still photo. Which means that in my mind I am always framing things, considering which scene will make the perfect photo. When you have played with cameras for so long, this mode of thinking is constant and automatic.


To end the chat on a personal note, are you married?

No, I am single, and have been so for more than a year. I think I will be single forever, because looking for a girl is the hardest thing to do.


Why? What do you look for?

I could say I want someone tall and sexy or whatever, but it doesn’t work like that. We are all in a constant state of flux, especially in our 20s. We keep evolving, and our requirements evolve with us. It’s not like a camera click, where you know in an instant.

But you know what, I have never dated a Nepali lady, perhaps because there have been few of them in my circle in Mumbai.


Let’s hope DREAMS will fix that for you!

Let’s (laughs)!


Rohan Shrestha. Copyright: Rohan Shrestha

Interviewed by: Sewa Bhattarai
Image Source and Copyrights: Rohan Shrestha

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  • Deepeka Padukone
  • Imran Khan and Anushka Sharma
  • Jacqueline Fernandez
  • Kareena Profile-1A
  • Ranveer Kapoor
  • Ranveer Singh
  • Sonakshi Sinha
  • Sonam Kapoor
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