Making a name for yourself in the film industry, Hindi or regional, is not for the faint hearted. You have to be ready for the failures, the heartbreaks, and the let-downs while you chase your dream of becoming a big star one day. For struggling actors, finding a photographer who not only makes their portfolios but also goes an extra mile to help them out by recommending them to casting directors, is nothing less than a miracle.
Meet Pune-based fashion photographer Atul Shidhaye, who is like an answered prayer for struggling actors in the Marathi and Hindi film industry. In the industry for over two decades, he has established reliable contacts who help out his clients with auditions. He has clicked portfolios for Amruta Khanvilkar, Sachit Patil, Ankush Chaudhari, Umesh Kamat, Sonalee Kulkarni, Tanushree Dutta, Mona Singh, Gauahar Khan and other celebrities when they had just set out to find their feet in the industry.
“When a client walks into my office asking if I will click their portfolio, I know that they are freshers in the industry. If you’re already a celebrity, you don’t need a portfolio. By their demeanour I can make out the level of confidence they have, and for freshers it’s usually not much. New talent must be encouraged and I believe in helping them out as much as I can,” he says.
But getting a break in the film industry is not easy, so Shidhaye believes in giving a reality check to newcomers. “I speak to them about their ambitions in this field. I tell them about how things work in films, what their expectations should be, and how much hard work is involved. It’s not all about glamour, but a lot of sweat too,” he says.
Shidhaye makes an effort to help his clients by forwarding their portfolios and CVs to various production houses too. Since his reputation as a photographer also depends on the quality of the portfolios clicked by him, he ensures that he has a thorough talk with his clients before they pose in front of the camera.
“For a person who has just started his career in the film industry, having a good portfolio is very important. I take great care in preparing it. I have a few meetings before the shoot and explain the concept to them so they know how to prepare themselves for it. I tell them about what type of clothes they should be wearing, how to accessorise, how to style the hair and how the make-up should be. I tell them how they should use their facial expressions and educate them on technical aspects of striking good poses for photos such as how to use their eyebrows while smiling,” says Shidhaye, who claims to have made portfolios for over 70 per cent of present-day actors in the Marathi film industry during their early days.
The photographer has won awards, including the V Shantaram Puraskar for Sade Made Teen in 2008 and Gaiir in 2010, Chitrapadarpan Puraskar for Satrangi Re in 2012 and several others.
“Anyone can reach out to me through Facebook or my website. The portfolios I have clicked have been posted there as well,” says Shidhaye.