A photograph of a hut, surrounded by cherry blossom trees, is spread across a seven-foot wall. The photo is blurry, as if the photographer was running as he clicked it. The blurred edges give it a vortex-like illusion that pulls you in. The pink hue of the cherry blossoms is grainy and haunting. Additionally, there is a model standing against the wall; her body forms the canvas for the photo. Walk in front of it and the photo drapes onto your skin. Neither a printed photo, nor a framed exhibit, the image is a projection on the wall.
You can experience this unique projection art at well-known fashion photographer Rohan Shrestha’s upcoming show, Hanami (Japanese for flower viewing) at the Diesel gallery in Santacruz. In the past, he has shot covers for magazines like Cosmopolitan and Verve.
When we speak to Shrestha (30) over the phone, he talks to us between a hurried breakfast. He has to rush off to and check on his exhibit, he says, adding, “These are exciting times. It’s my first solo and one of the first projection art exhibits in the city.”
The Japanese connect
Hanamai is a 25-photo series born out of Shrestha’s travels from Japan. “I have been there only twice so far, but I fell in love with the landscape, the culture and its people. I hope to create the same experience for audiences here through my images,” he says.
The exhibition showcases two of his passions: landscape photography and fashion photography. “I chose projection art as it offers an opportunity to combine the two. For this exhibition, I have chosen photos that represent Japan for me: cherry trees and Buddhist monasteries projected on to a model dressed in traditional Japanese clothes,” he says.
The rebellious years
Being Bollywood photographer Rakesh Shrestha’s son, one might assume that photography would have been a passion since childhood. However, Shrestha had no intention of pursuing photography professionally and considered it a last resort.
As a 17-year-old, the thought of being the son of a pioneering photographer was “scary” for Shrestha. “I was insecure about having to grow up in my father’s shadow if I pursued photography,” he says. And as an 18-year-old, his aim was to become a pilot. “Photography was never really an obvious choice for me. I wanted to experiment and find my own strength,” he says.
Ultimately, it was his mother, Jean, who talked him out of his insecurities. Even today, nearly seven years after her death, he thinks of her as his greatest support.
Shrestha’s love of photography began with shooting landscapes on his travels. “I used to experiment with focal lengths, lenses and light, as a hobby. Capturing nature and travelling to see more of it, is what pulled me into photography. Fashion and celebrity portraits came much later,” he says. Even though actors like Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan were frequent visitors to his house during his childhood, Shrestha was never a “Bollywood person”. “I was a geeky kid. Being star-struck was beyond me,” he says.
Shrestha’s objectivity towards stardom comes as an inheritance from his father: “He never picked up the phone and recommended me to anyone within the industry. He stood by me during my struggling years in fashion photography and helped me with the technicalities. But he has never dictated what I do with my life,” he says.
Shrestha hasn’t yet shot either of the Khans or other stalwarts that his father has worked with. Instead, he prefers to work with friends: “Ranveer [Singh] and I grew up together. We’ve known each other for 27 years. He gets my work and I get his style. That is why I am comfortable working with him. It’s the same with Shraddha [Kapoor],” he says.
Diesel+Art Initiative’s Hanami will be on display every weekend, starting February 6, 11am onward.
Where: Diesel, Western Wind Building, Juhu Tara Road, Santacruz (W)
Call: 2661 8282