I am stunned to be writing my second obituary within ten days.
But when extraordinary people die and you have had the privilege to work with them, then you must write. It’s the only way you can grieve for them.
Prabuddha Dasgupta photographed me sometime in May 2003.
I had received an e-mail with a request to speak with Minakshi Achan (who was then the Creative Director at Rediffusion Bangalore). When I spoke to Minakshi, she told me that she was creating a new campaign for McDowell Signature Whiskey.
She and her team had identified me as one of the entrepreneurs they wanted to associate the brand with, for the new campaign. Minakshi wanted to know if I was willing to accept the association.
Of course I was!
I flew down to Bangalore and was treated like a King by McDowell. After a quick rest, I was picked up from the hotel (The Oberoi – M.G Road) and was told, “The photographer who is shooting the campaign, likes to get familiar with his subject. That’s where we are headed … to lunch with him.”
I was cool. I had no clue who the photographer was.
A few minutes later, we arrived at Sunny’s and headed up to the second floor. That’s when I first met Prabuddha Dasgupta (PD).
He looked exactly like the photograph I saw in the newspapers this morning. Thin, actually a bit frail, with a strikingly classy salt & pepper look.
Image courtesy – http://www.worldphoto.org/
We had a long luxurious lunch, and I do remember drinking couple of glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. I think PD had some too.
We were relaxed and quite comfortable with each other. PD didn’t inquire too much about my business (most people do). He was just happy smoking, chatting and hanging out.
A couple of hours later we headed to a restobar called ‘The13th Floor’ at Barton Center on M.G. Road. We were shooting on the terrace and the view of Bangalore was spectacular from there.
After I changed, PD came up to me and whispered something I have shared with many people; that truly represented the sign his genius.
He said, “Alok, I am going to keep shooting lots of photos because all these brand guys like to see effort going in. But let me tell you that around 4:30 or 4:35 pm, there will be a slant of sunlight that will hit the terrace and then reach you.
That window of time will get me the light and effect that I’m looking for, to get the perfect shot. I will signal you, so give me your best look at that very moment.”
We shot endlessly for quite a while, and then PD puffed a smoke and winked at me. I guess that was the signal. I never saw any slanting light, etc, but he shot me with an intensity that I had never seen before. And then, just like that, the shoot was over.
A few weeks later, when the final photographs were shared with me, I discovered that it was the 4:35 pm shot that was chosen by the brand in the end.
This is the photograph that was carried across lots of publications, hoardings, etc, and really made me a famous guy back then (notice that slant of sunlight on the left of my face).
Thank you Prabuddha Dasgupta for honoring me with a photograph of your lens. I will remember you and your genius forever.