What the Kingfisher Calendar 2010 has in store!
It's exclusive, it's sexy, it's eagerly awaited each year. And 2010 will see a slightly new twist on the old tried and tested bikini bombshell format of the annual Kingfisher Calendar.
rediff.com caught up with ace photographer Atul Kasbekar, who's been busy getting things organised for the next installment of India's hottest swimsuit chickas.
You've been shooting the Kingfisher Calendar for seven years now (since 2003). Since the theme remains the same, how do you provide an added spin every year? What was the response to the 2009 edition?
Like every year, 2009 got a good response. Aesthetically, we try to introduce new elements, like this year saw a few black and white photos, we put two shots on one page -- on the whole, it was much tighter in terms of competition. There are a lot of similar calendars being published lately, but while a lot of people may shoot sexy ladies in swimsuits, we try and capture the soul of a woman in our photographs. And that's what sets us apart from the rest.
Image: Atul Kasbekar and actors R Madhavan and Dino Morea pose with the Kingfisher Model Hunt contestants
Photographs: Courtesy NDTV Good Times
'We're not getting contestants to eat live bugs'
For the first time, you're holding auditions to select models for the 2010 calendar. Tell us a little about that.
Yes, it's been very exciting this year holding auditions for the very first time. The concept of beauty pageants is so over now, you know -- this is refreshingly different. We were flooded with entries and the reality show format of broadcasting the eliminations live is sure to generate interest. And hey, we're not getting contestants to eat live bugs or jump off a cliff or anything (laughs) -- all you have to do is look good! You can catch the audition process on NDTV Good Times, starting October 30.
Image: Contestants pose on the beach in Goa during the auditions
'It was like putting together a rich, varied portfolio for all the finalists'
What exactly did the audition process involve?
Well, we invited a few prominent Indian photographers like Sameer Srivastav to participate. The contestants were set certain tasks -- they were made to work with six such professionals, each of whom has their own different, particular style. So essentially, it was like putting together a rich, varied portfolio for all the finalists and picking the best. Candidates will be eliminated by our professionals till we are down to our winner -- that, of course, is in addition to a few models who've already been selected before the auditions got underway.
Image: Calendar hopeful Anjali participates in a round of the competition
'When Katrina posed for the calendar, it was a photographic start for her'
After working with seasoned models all through, do you have reservations about working with freshers and new entrants to the fashion industry?
Not at all. There's a first time for everyone and the results may surprise you. See, when Katrina (Kaif) posed for the calendar, it was a photographic start for her -- she'd never done something quite like that before. The same goes for anyone else who is facing the camera for the first time.
Image: Contestant Carla poses for the cameras
'Today, all models are seasoned about baring their bodies'
What about the dare-to-bare attitude? Do you think first-timers will be comfortable shedding their clothes and their inhibitions to don bikinis?
Yes, of course -- today, all models and those who want to join the modelling industry are seasoned about baring their bodies. Ten years ago, if you'd asked a well-established actress to don a swimsuit for a photo shoot, leave alone a sensual calendar brought out by an alcohol company, you'd be slapped! But that attitude is changing, especially in these last four years -- even celebrities don't mind doing it anymore. It's like a friend told me summarily -- perceptions are changing and like the fashion industry, the alcohol industry has acquired a veneer of respectability these last few years. And as far as the Kingfisher Calendar is concerned, we make sure not to cross the line between the sensual and the randy, crude or downright vulgar. It's sensual, yes, but in a nice way.
Image: Contestant Himarsha sizzles in a beige bikini
'The models you see on the ramp are sometimes painfully thin'
What does it take to become a Kingfisher Calendar girl? On what basis do you select models every year?
What I need specifically is a look on your face that is both sexy and innocent. It has to be the kind of appeal where I can take you home to Mom not your mother, but mine! Because I really do believe it's possible to look both beautiful and sexy at the same time.
As for the specifics, being in shape is one thing but being in swimsuit shape is something else altogether. The models you see on the ramp are thin, sometimes painfully thin and that is simply not going to work for a swimsuit calendar. You have to have muscle tone to look good in a bikini, you have to have curves.
The selection process involves me shortlisting the models I think will do justice to the calendar and then Dr Mallya takes the final call on who will make it.
Image: Shooting of the competition underway in Goa
'We're headed to the Maldives'
In the past you've shot in exotic locales like the Andamans, the Thai island of Koh Samui and the Kingfisher Villa in Goa. Where will this year's calendar be shot?
For the 2010 edition we're headed to the Maldives. We'll be shooting at the Six Senses luxury spa -- Fushi Soneva Gili -- from December 20 to January 1.
Image: Contestant Meryem poses in a floral two-piece
'Being exclusive is our strategy'
Can you tell us why the Kingfisher Calendar remains so exclusive? It's only sent out to a select few each year, why is it not made available to everyone, given its popularity?
Take the Pirelli Calendar as an example. It's popular worldwide, but it's not freely available either. It has that mystique and hype surrounding it because you can't acquire it so easily. We don't want to create a calendar which, if it's sitting in your hotel room and you take a liking to it, you can take home with you and have the hotel simply replace it. Yes, the Kingfisher Calendar is exclusive -- strategically so!
Image: Contestant Nidhi bares her back for the camera