In the mid ’90s Jagdish Mali (fondly called Jaggi by his friends)was one of the most sought after photographers in the city. He had set up his independent studio, after having worked with CineBlitz magazine. His studio was located in Aram Nagar 2, which was considered to be the haven for photoshoots as Mali had two other ace photographers, Rakesh Shrestha and Jayesh Sheth as neighbours.
Reticent and somewhat shy, Mali outwardly didn’t have the flamboyance that one expects from a glamour photographer. He was soft spoken and always smiling. But behind the camera, he was passionate and assertive.
And perhaps it was this very nature of his that made Rekha and Jackie Shroff, some of the reigning stars of that time, so comfortable with him that they refused to shoot with anybody else.
Whoever entered his studio, whether it was a star or a cub reporter, was treated equally and fed with samosas and endless cups of chai. At no point in his career, did his smile or demeanour change.
Once age caught up with Mali, as is frequently the case in Bollywood, the man who was always surrounded by people, suddenly found himself alone. But when I spoke to him a few months ago, Jaggi told me how he hoped to get busy soon, instead of dwelling on his loneliness or sickness.
He was suffering from severe diabetes. Jaggi will surely be missed.
All photos courtesy CineBlitz