When my husband surprised me with a return ticket for Mumbai, my head went spinning trying to figure out who to interview for this blog, to make this experience unforgettable for me as well as for my readers.
And of course I wanted to know more about fashion but also, more in general, about how contemporary women are changing their role in the society. Fashion photographer Vishal Kullarwar helped me, answering some of my questions.
What is special about Indian women’s beauty?
I personally believe the secret of their beauty lies in the mysticism which emanates from them. This is probably a result of their culture, their attachment to religion, the society they live in. Of course this special character is evolving generation after generation, being blended with influences from the West and a different lifestyle, but it’s still what makes them so deeply different from women in other parts of the world. If we talk about physical beauty, the deep-brown eyes of Indian women and their glossy black hair are extremely nice to look at.
How do Indian women react in front of your camera?
Let’s say models are professional, they do their job – some of them are really good and photogenic, some other less, but this is another story. Normal women are very conscious of what society is expecting from them – and as you can imagine Indian culture and religion don’t allow women to be the centre of the attention. This means that they are extremely shy, and don’t feel comfortable when in front of a photographer. Of course things are changing – women are traveling much more than before, and getting exposed to different social set of rules. I’m sure things are going to be very different soon enough.
这么说吧，模特都是非常专业的，她们做好本职工作 －有些模特非常专业非常上镜，有些稍微差点儿，但那是另外一回事。一般的女性非常在乎世俗的观点 －你可以想象得到，印度的文化和宗教不允许女性成为关注的焦点。这意味着她们极其害羞，在摄影师面前她们会感觉不自在。当然社会在变化 － 跟以前相比，女性更多的旅行，更多的了解不同的社会文化习俗。我非常确定，社会在不远的未来会有很大的变化。
What is the idea behind some of your ‘fusion’ shoots?
The concept is that nowadays we can’t ignore the globalisation process that is going on and that is making Asian women wear French labels with pride and Italian ones crave the latest Japanese design. This has to be shown in fashion editorials. This is why I enjoy very much to mix typical Indian skirts with Spanish leather jackets and accessories from England. I think a contemporary woman can recognise herself and better relate to such a model.
Your father is a photographer as well. In which way your style is different from his?[Laughing] Everything is different – from the technique to the cameras we use to the way we perceive things. He was the first person to train me as a photographer when I was very young, but later on I felt the urge to go solo, and to learn by myself. After attending Canadian college in Mumbai, I travelled to Paris and Hamburg, to broaden my horizon. By travelling I kept developing my skills, and that made me an even more different photographer from father than before.
（笑）一切都不同 － 从技术到我们用的相机到我们捕捉事物的方式。他是在我年少时第一个教我摄影的人，但随后我有强烈的愿望来自我实践，自我学习。在孟买的加拿大学校毕业后，我去巴黎和汉堡旅行，去开拓我的视野。在旅行的过程中，我不断地提高摄影技能，这使我作为一名摄影师，变得跟父亲更不同了。
Is there a photographer you look at for inspiration?
I admire Richard Avedon very much. He was way ahead of his time and he completely with his fashion and portrait photographs to define America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century. His book Woman in the Mirror is one of the masterpieces in the photography literature. The way he used the light in his studio in NY is fascinating and I believe there is no other photographer like him.
If you could shoot with a top model, who would be you first choice?
I have no doubts here: it would be Kate Moss. She has some special raw beauty that is defying the definition of a top model. She doesn’t have the perfect body of a Victoria’s Secret Angel, hers is some kind of androgynous allure and her face is unconventional, and yet the way she flirts with the camera makes her the dream model to work with. She can perfectly balance her wild character with experience and professionalism – I believe this are two essential aspects of her work.
How do you keep yourself updated?
I keep my eyes open! I read fashion magazines, like Vogue Italia or Tank, and magazines about photography, like Photo District News, but I also watch lots of movies. I’m not a big fan of Bollywood movies, I’m more interested in movies from Korea, Japan, China. One of my favourite? ‘In the mood for love’, taking place in the Sixties in HK. A masterpiece, you should watch it!
我睁大眼睛！我读时尚杂志，比方说意大利Vogue和Tank，还有关于摄影的杂志，比方说Photo District News，但我同时也看很多电影。我并不是特别喜欢宝莱坞的电影，我对韩国、日本和中国的电影更感兴趣。我最喜欢的电影？《花样年华》，讲叙了一个发生在六十年代的香港的故事。绝对是大师之作，你应该去看！
And while I can’t wait to watch it, it was really interesting for me to meet up with Vishal. His approach is extremely fresh and straight-to-the-point, and I love the fact that he is respecting his own culture and tradition and at the same time making an effort to push Indian women outside their comfort zone, which is very narrow due to the restrictions society and religion impose.
And Vishal will be visiting China soon hopefully – I can’t wait to show him around. With such a sophisticated eye, I wouldn’t be surprised to see incredibly interesting Beijing shots. As they say, beauty is in the eyes of the observer. Or in their camera, if I may add.
而且Vishal有可能很快会来到中国 － 我等不及带他到处看看啦。有他如此独特且有深度的视角，我肯定他会拍出令人惊艳的北京的照片。俗话说得好，情人眼里出西施，我再加一点，摄像机镜头里也会出西施呢。
Vishal Kullarwar e’ un fotografo indiano di base a Mumbai. Durante la nostra passeggiata lungomare, mi ha raccontato delle sue esperienze passate e dei suoi sogni. E di come secondo lui la bellezza delle donne indiane consista nel loro misticismo, e nella difficoltà di aprirsi completamente davanti alla macchina fotografica a causa delle costrizioni sociali.
For the chat with Vishal Kullarwar at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel I was delighted to wear:
Dress 裙子: ‘S by Max Mara.
Orange sandals 橙色凉拖: Fausto Santini
Sunglasses 太阳镜: Celine
Earrings 耳环: Monica Sra – bought via Ishaveya
The pictures at the Taj Mahal Palace were taken by Vishal Kullarwar Photography’s Team with their Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 5D & Fuji X100S .
在泰姬陵的照片由 Vishal Kullarwar 拍摄拍摄团队有Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 5D & Fuji X100S.
For all the other pictures, special thanks to Vishal Kullarwar.
其它的照片，特别感谢 Vishal Kullarwar 。
Chinese translation by Vivian Zhou.
中文翻译由Vivian Zhou 完成.[map id=”105″]