RIP Gautam Rajadhyaksha

Ace photographer Gautam Rajadhyaksha passed away this morning. I was deeply saddened by this news as he was the biggest film personality whom I knew or rather who knew me! I had met him 4 times at his place around 3 years ago. I wanted him to shoot my portfolio and he had agreed to do it provided I worked on my physique. For the past 3 years, I had been calling him on his birthday (16th of September) and I was surprised that he could always remember who I was! It is so very sad that he passed away on 3 days before his birthday when I would have given him a call and spoken with him. Gautamji was a great man! I was always told that people in this industry are mean and are never helpful. It was Gautamji who changed this perception for me. In a very strange way, Gautamji is responsible for where I am in my life today! After the completion of my acting course, I had purchased the film directory named Film India to get a list of photographers whom I could contact for my portfolio. That’s where I got Gautamji’s number from. I called him and he told me how much he charges (an amount which was huge and unaffordable for me) and that he first needs to meet me to see if he wants to shoot me. I used to live in Navi Mumbai then and Gautamji lived in Churchgate (not exactly but close to it). I can never forget my first meeting with him! He had given me precise instructions on how to get to his place. His house was in a building which had those spiral stairs that goi round and round and lead you upstairs. His house was where the stairs led to! All along the stairs you could see awesome paintings, artistic posters of films and plays, etc. I was already feeling very nervous. I was also hoping that there was no dog at his place since I am super scared of dogs! (that’s changing slowly though :P). I rang the bell hoping to hear no barking. Thankfully, there was none! Gautamji’s servant let me in and asked me to wait while he went off to call Gautamji. I was waiting in the drawing hall and on the table next to me, I saw Gautamji’s book Faces that I had read about. I wanted to see it but I was really scared to touch anything there without his permission so i didn’t. I waited for about 10 minutes after which the man appeared. Dressed in a simple white kurta pyjama, he had a very pleasant smile. I greeted him with a Namaste and shook his hand then. He asked me if I could find his place easily, and then about the trains and how long did it take for me to get there. He found out everything about me  – my qualification (B.E.), my future plans, what I intend to do. I had a job offer in hand and I had about a month to join. I told Gautamji about my intentions of becoming an actor and that i was confused whether to join my job or not. He said, “Look, this is field is very unpredictable. A lot of people come to me for portfolios and trust me, most of them are really dumb idiots. You have completed your engineering which is a good thing. You sound like an intelligent boy and I am sure you are a good actor. However, this field is very unpredictable for everyone. You should take up your job, work somewhere close to your house and put in all the rest of your time towards acting. If it works out, great! You can make the switch from your job to being a full-time actor whenever you want. If it does not work out, you will still have your job!”. This is something I already knew. However, when it came from such a prominent personality of the industry, I had to take it seriously. I am following that advice of his till date! The job I have today is the one I took up because Gautamji asked me to! I work for 8-9 hours a day and put the rest of my time in theatre, gym, auditions, etc. After that advice, Gautamji told me that he needs me to build up my physique. I asked him if that was important as i wanted to rely more on my acting. Also, I told him that everybody was into body-building these days and I want to be different and not follow the herd. He explained to me that when he shoots me, he needs to see some kind of appeal. I was too thin then and he feared that people would call me “kaadi pehelwaan” (exactly the words he used!!). He asked me to join the gym and then come back to him after a few months. Then came the important part – money. I asked him how much I would have to pay him for the portfolio. I think he had sensed by then that I am not a rich guy. He said, “I can’t charge you what I charge the others.” He then offered to do the shoot at a price that I thought was too less for a Gautam Rajadhyaksha. I told him I can pay him more as I had saved for it. He said I can use the remaining money for buying clothes for the shoot. Ohh yes – he also said we would need to have one more meeting where I would need to show him my wardrobe. He asked me to put all the clothes I had in a suitcase and get them to him. I did that for our next meeting and he was happy with what I had. He gave me a short list of other clothes to buy. I then met him one more time to give him a status update of my gymming. After that Gautamji got a bit busy. A couple of times when I called, he was out of the country. And then, I got occupied with theatre, office and other activities. It was sad that the photo shoot never happened. I had always hoped that some day the time will come when I will have the perfect physique and will walk up to Gautamji and ask him ,”Can we shoot now?”. Unfortunately, that day is never going to come now. I will miss you Sir. Thank you for everything. I hope I can do something good in this industry and make you proud. Rest in peace…

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