Film stars count as mere extras in Fawzan Husain’s Bollywood photographs. What really excited him when he ventured into filmdom with his camera was the backstage buzz and the people who make up the backbone of the industry.
‘Silver Screen’, Husain’s exhibition at Mumbai’s Piramal Gallery, has arrived in Mumbai after shows in Delhi and Kolkata. The show is organized by Tasveer, which promotes photography as valuable wall art. So, if you are looking at framing quirky Bollywood moments on your wall, don’t miss the 42 photographs Husain will line up for the show.
Three years ago, Husain, a photographer with India Today, decided to take a close look at the mechanics of Bollywood. But the photographer looked for shots that engage the viewer for reasons other than the obvious lure of showbiz: the pool in which the heroine of Rajat Kapoor’s Mithya is “murdered” seen through a viewing window or the rain shot that is cleverly fixed by SFX experts for Paap. What Husain’s photos do is to make you gasp at the painstaking effort that goes into duping audiences into believing that they are watching real life on screen.
“I stayed on the fringes. I didn’t introduce myself to the stars or producers. I was just one photographer among the many hanging out at a shooting. I didn’t want any star to pose for flattering stills,” says Husain.
His candid portfolio includes Fardeen Khan sipping a very unglamorous tumbler of tea, an ungainly Amitabh Bachchan on his knees in an action scene; and Soha Ali Khan patiently waiting for a blower to set the mood for a dramatic scene.
Husain, who quit journalism to archive his huge collection of photographs, has exhibited his works on themes like faith, Kashmir, children of Kamathipura and mass marriages.
The photographs at this show will be on sale, but in limited numbers. Tasveer allows its photographers to set their own prices and prints, and Husain has chosen to sell 11 prints of every photo displayed. The prices of the prints will be dictated by their popularity. The most expensive will be a surreal photograph on the sets of a promotion for Paap . It shows Pakistani singer Ali Azmat in a rain sequence being drenched with bottles of mineral water as a glass wall sets the tone for a moody monsoon night.
So much for the visceral reality of Bhatt films.
(Husain’s photographs will be available at prices ranging from Rs30,000 to Rs60,000. Silver Screen, until 28 April, 11am to 7pm, Piramal Gallery, Mumbai)