During my earliest days as a photographer, around the early 80s, I met Rajinikanth at a shooting spot. Even then, he was known for his rather unique and particularly quick body language. He also had the habit of rehearsing a lot in front of the mirror.
Avar thaniya nippaaru; kannaadiya paathu siripaaru! (He would stand alond; he will smile looking at the mirror).
And that’s when I came upon the idea of capturing a mirror shot of his.
I exposed his face to a lot of light, and kept the background dark for the purposes of this shot. Lighting always plays a crucial part in such portrait shots, and I’m a firm believer in paying great attention to the small details of a photo.
I don’t like to have a lot of clutter in the foreground, and ensure that the subject’s eyes are always in focus. It isn’t easy to make people pose for pictures; not even an actor of Rajinikanth’s calibre. The best way to shoot them is to make them lose their inhibition.
Back when I shot this photo first, we didn’t have digital cameras or laptops, of course. So, there was no question of showing the picture immediately to the Superstar.
It was only two years ago when he stumbled upon this photo somewhere, and asked me to give it to him. He said he liked the photo a lot. It was so heartening to hear that.
These days, everybody’s shooting themselves; everyone’s a selfie expert. But in my opinion, shooting others and capturing them in a way that makes them feel good is the most satisfying thing ever.
(The photographer has taken photographs for more than 500 films over the last three decades.)