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Monday, January 9, 2012

Photographer Karthik Srinivasan's calendar ‘Time 2012' showcases stars ‘like you've never seen them before'

“These are celebrities like you've never seen them before,” says model-turned-entrepreneur-turned-photographer Karthik Srinivasan, clicking through a slideshow of glossy black-and-white headshots of stars such as Simbu, Simran, and Madhavan — to name just a few. I think he's right; his understated, intimate photographs do deviate from the bright, colourful aesthetic that dominates the posters and billboards of Chennai.

Although his photography is mainly commercial, Karthik's coffee table calendar ‘Time 2012' is a personal project: “I wanted to create something that would satisfy me personally, as an artiste,” smiles Karthik — and he looks pleased with the outcome.

Featuring 24 celebrities, all captured in black-and-white, Karthik's calendar is designed to reveal well-known stars in a new and different light. He gestures at a photograph of Ilaiyaraaja that is blinking on his computer screen. The shot has been taken from a low angle, suggestive of the reverent gaze an established musician commands, and the use of Photoshop is minimal, the low-key lighting highlighting every line and contour of his face.

“I wanted to try something entirely different with this,” stresses Karthik. “I wanted to create fine art.”

He cites Testino and Leibovitz as influences, although I can't say I see their imprint on this particular series of images.

What I do see is a calendar that is conscious of treading a careful line — whilst wanting to break away from the dominant aesthetic of the big, the bright and the bold, it also acknowledges an audience that is responsive to the gloss and shine of the big screen. His work is different, but not too different; experimental, but not too experimental — there remains a certain pristine glamour, but this isn't a bad thing. It's what people like.

How did you decide who to feature?

You see, I have a wide variety of celebrities here. My sister was a big fan of Nadhiya — I was a kid then. In my school days, I was a fan of Kushboo, and in my college days, a big fan of Simran. All three ruled the industry during their days. My calendar features upcoming stars such as Ganesh Venkatraman as well as established stars such as Suriya, Simbu, Karthi, Madhavan and Anushka.

How difficult (or easy!) was it getting so many of them to agree to be on the calendar?

I have to say I'm thrilled at their responses. These are very busy people, and their time costs a lot. Still, they were able to spare the time for this project, and I managed to finish the entire thing in just two weeks.

What has the response from the stars themselves been like so far?

Before we began shooting, I told them this was going to be something quite different, and most of them just said ‘Karthik, do whatever you want' — they were very happy to give me full artistic rein. In fact, there were several occasions where what was agreed to be a two-hour shoot ran into four or five hours. They seemed very pleased with their pictures, and intrigued by the way I was portraying them. I'm happy with my work.


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