Top stars romance vintage cars in ace photographer G. Venket Ram's latest work— a calendar that will be released on Friday by director Mani Ratnam
It's an enduring romance. Every time G. Venket Ram sees a vintage car, he is fascinated by its form and personality. “Each is a design marvel, and I choose to revel in it,” says the top-notch photographer, who has come up with a calendar capturing these majestic beauties.
While the cars play a star role in the frames, the photographer has featured some leading personalities from the Tamil and Telugu film world for interesting contrasts. With imagination in top gear, Venket evolves a visual directory of past-present interface with chic, contemporary stars courting stately, vintage vehicles. “I chose the combination based on the build, personality and attitude of the stars and the vehicles.”
The 40-day exercise that began in the second week of November, was kindled by M. S. Guhan, an avid vintage car collector. “The man-machine bond is so special. We all remember and attach so much sentimental value to our vehicles. Guhan's huge collection spurred my journey. With his support, I learnt to observe lesser-known details about these cars and decided on a theme-based shoot for a limited-edition desk-top calendar. The stars, most of whom I've worked with, were eager to pitch in.”
With stylists-designers Chaitanya Rao, Sidney Sladen, Vivek Karunakaran, Falguni Thakore, Neha and Deepali Noor stepping in, the orchestration was complete. The result was sheer visual poetry. You have a stylish Vikram lounging in an ostentatious Chevrolet Impala, a well-groomed Suriya with a notice-me MG TB 1956, an attractive Trisha near an attention-seeking Dodge Brothers and an affable Genelia posing near a charming Austin 7 Chummy. Every month on the calendar features a different star and a vehicle. “To make it a learning process, I've added notes about the machines, their history and unique features at the end. There are two interesting bikes too in the photographs — Simbu and Arya feature in them. I've also used vehicles from M. SriKumar, Ranjit Pratap and Arun Vasu's collection.”
With the sun playing hide-and-seek, Venket had to get used to shooting under an overcast sky. “All the shoots, except Telugu star Nagarjuna's, were done in Chennai. Whenever a shoot was planned, it used to rain! But the downpour enhanced the mood — the little puddles, the water-drenched plants and the bathed-in-the-rain vehicles added to the play of colour and light to complement the compositions.”
Since Venket was simply driven by the majestic machines, he did not think about the commercial aspect of the project. “I wanted to try out something new. Usually, classy calendars are associated with women in bikinis! I wanted to take a detour. Depending on how it's received, I'll probably work on something similar and raise money for charity,” he says.
It's Kitch art (not kitsch). All about my kitchen! The oil bottles, the basket of onions and garlic, the spoons, the gas burners and even the sink that we consider ‘yuk' can be captured beautifully with an inimitable play of light and shade. I plan to hold an exhibition soon.