One of Bollywood’s most respected and dearly loved ace lensman and author, Gautam Rajadhyaksha passed away yesterday. The talented artist who had photographed some of India’s most glamorous faces over the decades was due to turn 61 on the 16th of September. His book, Faces which was released in 1997 was an epochal collection of pictures and a tribute to the beauty of Bollywood’s divas like Aishwarya Rai.
He captured a true reflection of the beauty of their soul through the magic of his lens. His soft focus style portraits of Kajol, Rekha, Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit, Dimple Kapadia and Hema Malini are celebrated by industry veterans and treasured as the greatest masterpieces. Shobha De, who is a cousin of Gautam was at his funeral at the Chandanswadi Crematorium to pay tribute to a man who was her oldest friend and the gentlest human being. She shared some wonderful memories that she had of him over the years. A little known secret about Gautam that Shobha De shared with us was his passion for singing.
Gautam was a trained classical singer and was actually planning to come out with an album in collaboration with Asha Bhonsle really soon. It was also really interesting to learn about what a diverse personality he possessed (Did you know that he wrote the screenplay for Kajol’s first movie Bekhudi and Madhuri Dixit’s Anjaam?) and about his passion for music both Western and Indian Classical. He had the most impressive collection of music anyone had ever seen. Shobha De also spoke to me about her love for his cooking especially his mouth-watering kebabs and Shepherd’s Pie which he would treat them to every now and then. Gautam was currently working on his most ambitious project which is a school of Photography at the Symbiosis College in Pune and that is what De described as one of the major reasons for his being overstressed.
Javed Akhtar who was among the first people who came to offer his condolences deeply mourned the loss of a great family friend. Gautam had photographed Javed Saab’s children Zoya Akhtar and Farhan Akhtar ever since they were really little. Javed Saab particularly treasures all the photographs that Gautam took of his kids as they remind him of the genius of this man each time he flips through their family album.
Gautam was also the first man to have made Farhan Akhtar model for a commercial at the age of 4. Javeed Saab described how Gautam’s impeccable knowledge of different cultures and subjects was awe inspiring. I am sure that Gautam touched many lives with his brilliance and several people would have equally moving stories of the man to share with us. Both Shobha De and Javed Saab were reminiscing about Gautam’s love for the Opera. So it was the perfect tribute to him when Shobha De requested them to play a Tosca rather than some Hindi Bhajans when his body was being taken for the last rites.
Prateik Babbar, Tina Ambani, Nikhil Advani, Dolly Thakore and Atul Kasbekar also came to bid a final farewell to the memory of this celebrated photographer. Gautam Rajadhyaksha was a gifted soul who inspired many to follow their dreams. We at Team MissMalini offer our deepest condolences to his friends and family and truly wish that we can celebrate and cherish the beautiful work and wonderful life of this legendary artist.