Celebrity and lifestyle photographer Munna S came to Akola as a young boy who couldn’t afford to shell out Rs 200 on a photography course. He did odd jobs in film studios till he managed to convince actors to shoot with him. "It’s all about developing a rapport with the stars and once they trust you, they pose uninhibitedly," says Munna who has shot with Salman Khan and Amitabh Bachchan among others. Today, Munna discusses Salman’s childlike vulnerability, Amitabh’s comfort with the camera and freshness and growing romance in one of John Abraham and Bipasha Basu’s photos he shot at the beginning of their relationship.
‘There are no bad angles to her face’
Chitrangada has the most photogenic face à la Smita Patil. Like Smitaji, there are no bad angles to her face. We shot this at an old mansion in Faridabad. I was shooting with Chitrangada in Delhi, and after we packed up on day one, we were discussing the next day’s plans when she mentioned her friend’s old mansion in Faridabad which could be perfect for our outdoor shoot. It was well worth the two-hour drive. The gown she’s wearing probably weighed as much as 50 kgs, but Chitrangada smiled through her discomfort till we arrived at the perfect shot.
‘She is ever-willing to experiment’
I remember when I started out as a photographer, I seriously pursued Shilpa till she finally agreed to shoot with a newbie like me. Shilpa is every photographer’s dream. She has a body to die for and a face that reflects innocence. She is ever-willing to try new concepts and experiment. I have never heard the word ‘no’ from her.
‘Our shoots used to be super fun’
John is an old friend. Bipasha shot extensively with me in my starting years and our shoots used to be super fun. This is my favourite picture of the couple because there’s so much love. The growing romance is so evident in this picture.
‘There’s a Sufi quality to him’
The year was 2006. I met Salman Khan for the first time on the sets of Saawan. This is one moment that will remain in my memory.
As I peered through my lens, I couldn’t help but exclaim, ‘Jesus Christ!’ There is a Sufi quality to him. A child-like vulnerability of soul gets reflected on his face. I used a single light on him and another to create an illusion of the moon to go with the mood of this picture. Salman is such a generous person that anyone who comes in contact with him gets enchanted for life. For me, it all began with him. After shooting with Salman, other celebrities too started trusting me with their shoots.
‘The fastest shoot of my life’
For a look test for Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, I got to shoot Amitabh Bachchan for the first time. The moment he walked in, a hush fell over the studio. As he began posing, I realised what made him so magical. Within a minute and a half, he had given me a hundred variations, complete with different body language and postures. And before we knew it, we had the perfect take and shot. It was the fastest shoot of my life. His comfort with the camera is breathtaking and he can carry off any look.