Ace lensmen Dabboo Ratnani, Subi Samuel and Jagdish Mali pay tribute to the man who inspired them -- the late Gautam Rajadhyaksha
It is most uncanny, but just a few days ago I asked Mickey Contractor (make-up artiste) how Gautam was doing. Mickey had told me that Gautam was planning to celebrate his birthday on September 16 in Pune this year. Last morning, it was Mickey who called and gave me the sad news of Gautam passing away.
Kajol, Jaya Bachchan and Gautam Rajadhyaksha. Pic/ Yogen Shah
Gautam was a much senior photographer, and I've had immense respect for him. I've been watching his work ever since I decided to become a photographer.
He was a part of my learning process. As a beginner, I would study his work in magazines. I would visit the exhibitions displaying his pictures. By the time I started photography professionally in 1994, he was huge.
It was Pooja Bhatt who introduced me to him. We shared many common friends like Pooja, Jackie Shroff, Aishwarya Rai, Rekha, Kajol, Tabu... so I would bump into him very often.
Even though at that point of time I was an upcoming photographer, he never looked at me as competition. He warmly welcomed me into the industry instead. He would pass on certain portfolios or shoots he couldn't do because he was too busy or because he thought it suited my style.
The best thing about Gautam was he had this peaceful vibe about him. He never looked at people as competition. He was happy with what he was doing. I doubt if there is any person in the industry who would have anything to say against him. He was such a gentle, loving soul. He was a positive person.
Gautam Rajadhyaksha was one of the reasons I took up photography. He inspired me to a great extent. Gautam cannot be called just a photographer; he was more a creative artiste instrumental in getting so much credibility and respectability for fashion photographers. No one can deny the fact that Gautam was one of the pioneers in the industry.
His mood shots could easily be compared to the best not only in India, but also around the world. You could never limit this man's work based on one photograph or other. He came out with some classics, which are unforgettable.
The pictures that pop up in my head for their sheer brilliance are the ones with Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna together, the one with Madhuri Dixit and of course, an ethereal one with Nutan. Sheer beauties.
Just like he inspired me, Gautam must have inspired a generation of youngsters to turn photographers. So his contribution to this industry cannot be measured. He was a different league altogether and cannot be replaced. He was one of the nicest people I knew.
Gautam was a real diamond. Even today, photographers try to copy the kind of mood shots he used to shoot. A lot of photographers, including me, have tried.
But, it is not easy to get Gautam's kind of result. I know it is wrong to copy someone's work, but when you have a genius like Gautam in front of you, I think even if you can get 25 per cent of what he has done, that can be a great achievement.
Gautam was a friend, and he was a very cool, secure person. He would be immersed in his own world. For him, what mattered was good food and good photography. He had no vices he didn't smoke, he didn't drink. I've had the greatest respect for him. There are so many master pieces that Gautam has shot; there was magic in each of his photographs.
Last I met him, he told me that he wanted to hold a party for photographers at his bungalow in Kunnoor. He wanted to invite everyone in the business and have fun. Sadly, that can't happen now.
A personal loss...
Aishwariya Rai-Bachchan: I am saddened by this news. He was such a loving, special person. Deep condolences to his family. May his soul Rest in Peace. He will be missed!
Kajol: Gautam was my friend, my grandfather... and just my family. I respected, admired and loved him. It is a personal loss that I will have to cope with in my own time and space.