From a small town in India, Ash Gupta moved to the capital, Delhi, to pursue education and his passion for fashion photography. Operating out of New Delhi, he didn’t feel the need to shift base to Mumbai, the home to the Indian film industry and its mega stars.
Skipping the entertainment capital of India, he made his way to the showbiz capital of the world, L.A. Working his magic in Hollywood, evident in the feature covered in the July issue of the magazine, it was only after establishing himself in the US and almost twenty years later, did he decide to go to Mumbai.
Some members of the elite social circle of artists and stars in Hollywood got him in touch with celebrities from the Indian film industry as well. That was what took him back to India. Gupta credits his friendship with Gulshan Grover (GG to him) and his repeated insistence and invitation to visit him in India that made him decide to take a trip in the year 2000. In fact, GG brought him a handwritten letter addressed to Gupta from renowned Hindi film director Mahesh Bhatt which read, “Why do brilliant Indian talents shine bright outside India? They should come and make a name at home.”
The friendly and humble nature of the internationally celebrated fashion photographer helped in forging friendships in Bollywood, as easily as he had done in Hollywood. The doors to his home and studio are forever open for the stars featured here and their kids, many of whom have studied in L,A: star kids like Janhvi Kapoor, now herself a leading actress, and the charming Harman Baweja.
Other than his busy schedule of fashion shoots and entertaining friends, Gupta, through his 838 Media Group, is working on a big project with social media influencers from around the world. To stay clued in to the latest trends, he surrounds himself with young creative professionals, so that he can learn and speak their language. A trick that helps him keep on top of a dynamic industry, despite his self-confessed tech challenges. Of course, the celebs he calls friends are of all ages.
Gupta provides a different perspective to the lives and personalities of these stars. Ones he has seen and observed from close quarters, and gone from being their friend to being a part of their lives. The ace photographer reveals a different side to these film actors, a side that only a friend would know.
The first time they met was in 2010 when Gupta’s manager Marina (who was also the manager for Melania Trump) asked him to do a shoot with her, and gave a heads up on her heightened ability to chat. At the shoot, the two got on like an ashtray on fire with un-stubbed butts and have been close friends ever since. Besides P, as Gupta calls her, he is close to her younger brother as well and calls her mother Maasi.
Even though they met not too long ago, according to Gupta, apart from being an incredible actor, she is an amazing woman. The Indian actress was in LA for the shoot of her international project, “The Army of the Dead.” Gupta was drawn to her non-star-like behavior, clear vision and invigorating company.
The two became friends when the actress was shooting for Jennifer Lynch’s movie “Hisss” in 2010. Gupta paints a different picture of Sherawat, quite different from the image people have of her. Like him, he said, she does not discriminate on the basis of gender, is vegan, works out like crazy and constantly cribs about his smoking.
Coffee with Kangana is how Ash describes the three days he spent with the talented actor. The photographer was amazed by the dexterity with which she can converse on any topic and have
a firm opinion about it, one not limited to photography alone. The boundless ambition of the national award winner was evident in her taking on the role of the director in her last film – “Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi.”
The former beauty queen and actress has had a long association with the photographer and lived pretty close to his house. Gupta considers her almost American since she has lived in the U.S. for so long. He also thinks she is absolutely strong inside to have walked away from her previous marriage and now married to her friend from her theater days in India. Each time she is in town, they catch up on the latest from both worlds.
The Pakistani singer and actor has done numerous films in Bollywood as well. Whenever the Pakistani superstar is in town, he comes over to Gupta’s studio and the conversations and the jam sessions go on till the wee hours of the morning. The two were introduced by producer Sameer Moosani and what connects the two is the love for poetry and soulful music.
Gupta says that he is very impressed with the new talents emerging out of India who are well grounded and don’t wear their stardom on their sleeve. Abhimanyu was introduced to him through the famous designer Kresha Bajaj who had interned with Gupta . Gupta found Abhimanyu, a rising star and the son of yesteryear actress Bhagyashree of “Maine Pyar Kiya” fame, to be very cordial and courteous.
The talented actor has done some incredible films in India as well as Hollywood, the latest being “Never Back Down:Revolt” and has a couple more films up her sleeve. The star of films like “Garam Masala” and “Traffic Signal” spent the last Diwali with Gupta and his family in L.A. Gupta respects the hard work that she puts in all that she does.
With 62 million followers on social media, she is one of the country’s most popular actors. With that kind of
a social media presence and following there is never
a problem in sourcing a wardrobe for photo shoots. She wanted to have a photo shoot that would make her look Indian and to do away with her Westernized image. Gupta told her she could look however she wanted, and could, as he did make her look, totally Indian.
The photographer and the actor met the year “Game of Thrones” was released – in 2011. Perhaps the inspiration for the look here was the King in the North, Jon Snow. Both were introduced to each other by Paresh Ghelani (the famous friend of Sanjay Dutt, the one depicted by Vicky Kaushal in the biopic “Sanju”). Down to earth and practical is how Gupta describes the Tamil and Hindi film star who has just released his latest film “Rocketry: The Nambi Effect.”
She calls him Ash and used to attend an acting school in L.A., a block away from his studio. She was a perennial fixture at the studio along with her friend and actress Sharmin Segal (niece of Sanjay Leela Bhansali). This was before her mother Sridevi passed away in 2018. This was also the time that Gupta noticed how determined these kids are to make it on their own, and how being a star kid did not mean that everything would be served to them on a silver platter.