Apr 19 2012 by Devansh Patel, Fulham Chronicle
HOW much can you learn about Atul Kasbekar through his mobile? He keeps two of them that I already know about. Now try giving him two options and see his head twirl – your mobile or your camera? Ah! That’s where you catch Atul. Whatever he chooses is his call, but one thing’s certain – his obsession for the lens will never fade away.
He loves his camera and those models in bikinis rolling on the sand.
His lens talks more than he does and if you don’t believe me, type these words in Google – Kingfisher Calendar Girls – and you’ll find 1,42,4000 results in 30 seconds.
Now we will let Atul do the talking. Click, click, bling! Presenting you, Agent Kasbekar.
DEVANSH PATEL: Are you inspired by Ari Gold – the agent played by Jeremy Piven in Entourage?
ATUL KASBEKAR: I don’t try to be inspired from Ari Gold because I am Ari Gold, but a lot more polite. It’s not funny how many people called me when Entourage started and said, ‘they’ve just made a show on you’. But I’d much rather be Ari Gold than Jerry McGuire. I feel there are some deals that nobody else could have pulled off and we got a kick out of doing it. The Union Bank of India commercials were really good. The commercials involved A R Rahman’s mother, Sachin Tendulkar’s brother and Vijendra Singh’s brother. It’s not about the big names but to convince each of the siblings was the toughest part and I feel proud that we did it.
DP: Tell us more about your first Kingfisher shoot.
AK: My first Kingfisher shoot was in 2003. I was at Matrix Entertianment at that time. I am still obsessed with the beach, beer and babes. I’ve often been voted ‘The man with the best job’ in India (laughs). Honestly, it’s a great job but it’s an assignment at the end of the day. We shot in Ladakh in 2008. We had taken a lot of help from locals there. Now those people hadn’t seen women in a bikini for a long time. But you could sense the palpable excitement. Kingfisher Calendar is the most phenomenal launching pad ever for models.
DP: How do you reinvent yourself when it comes to the calendar shoots?
AK: You have to reinvent whatever you do, every time, and add layers. There is always the question – will you succeed this time or not? We’ve done 10 years of the Kingfisher Calendar and we are planning to unveil the special coffee table book. We are hoping that by post monsoon we should be ready. We’ve added lots of layers to the Kingfisher Calendar. It’s not just the girls in bikinis but which country are they from, who has sponsored the bikinis, which celebrity is launching the calendar, what country is the shoot taking place in and so on.
DP: Any advice from the beer baron (Kingfisher), Mr Vijay Mallya?
AK: Vijay Mallya sat down with me and said to me, your 200 friends and associates who read the foreign fashion mags are a very insignificantly small percentage of the population that I am concerned with. This is a beer. From Bill Gates to the peons in India and whoever in between can enjoy one, if not many, beers in their lifetime compared with the 20-year-old whisky or Cognac. Beer goes across economic barriers, gender and age and appeals to the widest common denominator across the globe. So what happens when the calendar is called Kingfisher Calendar? How does it resemble the beer? Well, it’s elegant, sexy, classy and appeals to the whole world.
DP: What’s it like to photograph the hot models? Isn’t it the same every year?
AK: I tell them that they are already looking brilliant, sexy and so don’t bring that to the picture. That’s essential. To brief them is an integral part of what I do. I don’t need pouts and I tell them that I need to know them better and I want to see niceness in their eyes. If anyone gives me those cliché looks I stop shooting and take a small walk. I take them to my monitor and show them their photos and delete the pictures. We start from the scratch.
DP: We hear you love football. How did your Arsenal obsession start?
AK: I thank my friend Rahul Guha. He is in India now but he used to be in the UK. We used to play endless rounds of Pictionary. All the sports questions used to be about football and the guy who made up those questions was surely from the UK because all the questions revolved around Arsenal. I got to know about Arsenal through Pictionary. That’s how my obsession with football started. It’s a great game. I used to play very good basketball and cricket and captained my junior college team too. Also, being a photographer is the biggest advantage. I just shot with three of the greats in football four to five months ago – Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres.