One candid shot here, one stolen moment there and there you have – a beautiful portrait of your favourite celebrity on Rohan Shrestha’s camera screen.
For the uninitiated, Rohan is veteran photographer, Rakesh Shrestha’s son and there is no doubt about the fact that as a toddler he pretty much grew up around stars. Considering his lineage, there were mornings when he woke up to Raveena Tandon chatting up with mom (Jean) in the living room or welcoming a fresh-faced Manisha Koirala for evening snacks with daddy Shrestha on other days. And, Anupam Kher gave him life lessons while growing up.
FYI – his legendary father has shot for more than 600 films and every superstar of his time.
Following in his footsteps, is he? I ask him.
“You’ll be surprised to know that while growing up, I was never inclined towards photography. It was just scary to live up to such a big name.” he quips referring to all the pressure he would have to deal with to match up to his father.
“So, I tried becoming a pilot!” And, how did that go, we are curious, “Well, in my head I decided I wanted to become one,” says the 33-year-old photographer candidly.
Still, even more than his sense of humor, Rohan has a knack for disarming people. Notably, famous people. So far, Rohan has shot with almost every cinema giant of the millennial generation and pulled off a feat bettering even that. It being his recent shoot with Priyanka Chopra dressed in a leather ensemble on the roof of a high-rise featuring the skyline of New York.
Or his Charlie Chaplin series, featuring Ranveer Singh in and as Chaplin himself.
Rohan has been steadily capturing your favourite stars in the most uncanny and unguarded locations -removed from studios, and PR ploys – to find the people hiding underneath. And that he says, “It’s simply because of my approach towards them. I can communicate with them without sounding either too abrasive or too nice.”
Kareena Kapoor Khan and Alia Bhatt are very very alike. Funnily enough, the way they conduct themselves in front of the camera is extremely similar to each other. In terms of their postures, their positioning and poses. They are both so confidant with their pictures that both never check the screen and there are only few stars who do that!Rohan Shrestha, Celebrity & Underwater Photographer
On the other hand, Rohan elaborates on how different it is to shoot with contemporaries, Ranveer Singh and Ranbir Kapoor. “Ranveer loves photo shoots, whereas Ranbir doesn’t and he makes it blatantly evident. Ranbir’s demeanour at a photo shoot is very calm and chill. He comes from within whereas Ranveer comes from more outer (sic). Ranveer’s playlist goes from Govinda to Kanye West. With Ranbir it’s a lot more Jazz, you can go into a lot softer music and that sets the vibe of a shoot!”
Not to mention that the charm lies in the eyes of the beholder, and in this case it’s Rohan who shows up for shoots looking like a chilled-out, mensch-y next-door neighbour. (Which he actually even is!) That in turn puts his subjects at ease and the outcome of which is the one thing most artists cannot get them to do: relax. “The trick”, he says, “is to keep the set as happy as possible.”
For starters, it was none other than Karan Johar, “who I met in New York while I was pursuing photography and he asked me to return to Bombay,” recollects Rohan.
Karan’s gesture flipped a series of dominoes, and a few weeks later the then 23-year-old photographer picked up his phone to find an AD from Dharma Productions on the other end, asking if he would consider snapping Bombay for Ranbir Kapoor’s upcoming film Wake Up Sid.
“Delighted much. I took it up to only find myself being rejected,” he sheepishly admits. But soon after Filmfare approached, “and they wanted a young photographer to shoot a cover with Ranbir Kapoor right before the film was to release. And that I nailed, which clearly turned into my big Bollywood break. It literally changed my life,” expresses Rohan, who had spent his twilight years shooting small time ‘one-pager fashion features’ for magazines like L’Officiel and Marie Claire.
Eventually in 2009, he opened his own, modest studio in the infamous Aaram Nagar situated in Mumbai’s Versova, where he quickly built a business producing glossy head shots for famous actors. “Also, primarily I work with actors who are my age. A lot of people have this misconception that since I grew up with Bollywood and these star kids I have access to most of them, but that’s actually not the case. The only actor I do know from before is Ranveer (Singh) because we went to school together,” he reveals.
And so naturally, our conversation veers into discussing the curious case of none other than: Ranveer Singh. It is no secret that Rohan and Ranveer have been close friends since school. A gang of four including, Karan Kapadia, Navzar Eranee, Ranveer Singh and Rohan himself, often catch up for FIFA at one of their homes. Spilling some beans about his childhood memories with Ranveer, he says,
Ranveer was the protagonist in every school play ever since we were four. And I was this sidey guy in the same school play. I have pictures from my 6th grade birthday party, where he is dressed up as Puff Daddy at the time. And then one time he dressed up as one of the Backstreet boys, donning that middle parting hairstyle. He has always been outlandish, that is his personality. He doesn’t give a f**k and that’s actually the cool bit about him!
03(Photo Courtesy: Instagram)
02(Photo Courtesy: Instagram)
01(Photo Courtesy: Instagram)
“We dressed Ranveer as a crow once for a shoot that we just did for fun back in the day. Post the shoot we went all around Bandra, Ranveer with white paint on his face and a black latex suit chilling at Otters Club – dressed as a crow will be a memory of a life time!” recollects Rohan. Over the years, the two went from Learners Academy (their school in Bandra) to studying in HR College for 2 years and then completed their graduation from Indiana University in the States.
Only to find themselves siting across each other years later in Yash Raj studios, where he recollects, “We were in Aditya Chopra’s office surrounded by posters of Chandani and Lamhe (all those shot by my dad) – simply looking at each and just wondering, ‘Where the f**k have we landed up in our lives?!’ And this is before he became an actor and I became a photographer. So, for me also it’s very like unnerving!”
Their most recent memory is of jumping off a helicopter “We sky dived together a year and a half ago!” says Rohan as he moves on to give me an insight on how Ranveer is also an amazing boyfriend. After a lot of prodding, he says,
When you put the girl above yourself in terms of happiness, I feel that’s what a real relationship is – that you love someone over yourself. When the other person’s happiness is paramount to yours. And Ranveer in this case is actually a fantastic boyfriend to the girls that he has dated in the past, so am I, but he just does a lot for them. He wears his heart on his sleeve and you can actually see that.
Well hope you’re listening Dips darling!
Speaking of which, it brings us to our next question which is on a lot of people’s mind. As reports suggest, Rohan Shrestha is dating Shraddha Kapoor. “Whaaaat? Really? Is that true?” After all the no comments and dodging this question (considering the nature of it) Rohan finally admits,
We have been extremely close for the last 9 years, but NO, I am not dating her. I met her at a party and we instantly hit it off. First impressions – I definitely thought she was cute, but funnily enough – I am a very long-term kind of a boyfriend.
Further sharing how he dated his two exes for a rather chunky period of his youth. “As of now I have just started dating someone over the last few months and also, it’s baby steps so I’m seeing how it goes, it seems to be going well!” he signs off!
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