The life of a secret photographer Image: Thinkstock
It all started one fine day, for things always start on fine days. I was tired of my regular nine-to-five job that helped me pay my bills and gave me health insurance. I asked myself, is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? Live a life of certainty and comfort? Even my parents were proud of me — obviously, as a perennially disgruntled millennial, I was doing something wrong.
I decided to combine three of my greatest passions because following one passion was passe — travel, photography and cinema. I walked into THAT interview that day and walked out with a job as secret as a RAW agent, but not as raw.
This is how I landed the job:
Click! GIF: Giphy
"Please wait. Boss will see you in a while," said the unusually well-dressed receptionist as I reached the office for the job interview. This was the job that would change my life. I knew that because that's what the subject line on the email read. You don't click on emails from an African prince but this had the address of an Andheri West office. And we know that's where life changes. That and Lokhandwala, just ask Vivek Oberoi.
"Boss? Does he have a name? Even the email didn't say who I was supposed to meet," I ask sheepishly.
"Well, unka naam dil mein aata hai, zubaan pe nahi," she said, and went back to looking at adorable pictures of Taimur Ali Khan. And I sat there imagining a mixture of Salman Khan and Aditya Chopra for the next 15 minutes until I was ushered in.
Dedication level: Pro GIF: IMGFlip
"Do you know why you're here?" the boss guy asked. He was facing the wall behind, so I couldn't see his face, but he was sitting on a large cushiony chair, which told me he must be important.
"For a job interview?"
"For a life-altering experience." Of course, I knew that. He continued.
"What is a job? Just drawing a salary and paying bills? Don't you want your life to be like that song, Ilahi, where Ranbir Kapoor is walking around with a camera in picturesque locales, clicking pictures of beautiful women without anyone yelling 'how dare you take my picture'?"
Well, of course. That's my favourite song, too, and I love Ranbir."
"Well, that's just in cinema. In real life, consent is important. And that's where we come in. The Dramarazzi!"
"You mean paparazzi?"
"No, we are the Dramarazzi. We are paparazzi with a generous dash of drama, and more importantly, our subjects are razzi, consenting."
1 picture = 1000 words GIF: Giphy
"That's... brilliant wordplay. Brilliant. What does the job entail?"
"The perks first. You will get to travel the world. Your life will be a constant vacation from the Swiss Alps to the sunny beaches of Ibiza. With the crème de la crème of Bollywood, clicking their pictures. The downside? No one must ever know you exist. You will live a life of anonymity."
"I don't understand. If I am a photographer, why should that be a secret?"
"Tell me, do you remember Katrina Kaif and Ranbir's pictures from their Ibiza holiday?"
"Do you remember who took that picture?"
Say cheese! GIF; Giphy
"Exactly. Well, that was why I started Dramarazzi. I realised the pictures were not very flattering, they weren't smiling at the camera and they looked, well ugly. Naturally, they had lots of issues with those pics being leaked. But at Dramarazzi, we travel as their official vacation photographer. If there's a cute hug or a kiss, we capture it, edit it, retouch it, and give it to the celebrity, so they can have it leaked through their hundreds of fan pages on social media. We make their vacations beautiful enough to make it to the #travelgoals pages."
The boss guy took me through their Facebook wall of fame because these masterpieces only exist on the Internet.
Focus in GIF: Giphy
"What about the discarded pics? Like the ones that haven't come out well?" I asked.
"There are no discards, my friend. That's the beauty of this profession. The so-called bad pictures will go to big publications for their regular section, Awkward Moment. Remember Deepika Padukone's cleavage picture?"
"I have a question. Why did you pick me?"
"Hah, that's easy. You're the only person stupid enough to want a job that combines travel, photography, and cinema. That is stupidity for the world, my friend, but here we consider that passion. Are you game?"
"I am not sure. There's travel and there's photography. But where's the cinema?"
"Oh, but everything is cinema, fiction. The vacay goals you paint, the relationship you portray are all fictional. It's like the cameras never stops rolling. They never do...."
#photographer GIF: Giphy
It's been three years since I took up that job. Yes, I am proud of my work. Do you know how much effort it took to get Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli in that embrace? Every time Anushka saw a car, she was ready to yell at them for littering. And do you know how difficult it was to capture Taimur on that sledge? It had to be an ovary-exploding shot, and that guy was worried KJo uncle (he calls Karan Johar that) wouldn't cast him in Student Of The Year 10 if we didn't show enough abs. But I let my work speak for itself. 'Cuz I sure can't speak about it.