Designer Faiza Aman Khan’s new calendar ‘Naayaab’ features Tamil actor with the gentle pachyderms
A mighty elephant crouches on the forest floor alongside a model dressed in shimmering silver fabric; the lush and tranquil forest landscape, in hues of orange and brown, accentuates the harmony they share, in designer Faiza Aman Khan’s new calendar Naayaab. “I am terrified of elephants and was very hesitant to approach them initially. But it just took one night for me to realise how friendly they are. Now that fear is gone!” says Faiza. The calendar conceptualises the symbiosis between humans and elephants through photographs amid Nature, featuring Kollywood actor Sakshi Agarwal who recently appeared on Bigg Boss Tamil. Shot by photographer Alex Judson, the work features dresses from a red carpet concept, with each month based on a different theme, such as love, success and perfection.
The designer’s creative process began when she decided to explore themes of real life and Nature, earlier this year. She was decidedly against shooting in a studio. Piqued by the idea of incorporating an elephant into these photographs, she finished the designs in a month, simultaneously launching her brand Fab by Faiza in May 2019. Ultimately, it was the process of obtaining a licence for an elephant that took longer, after which the team travelled to Alappuzha in Kerala to meet the animals. Soon, they identified a tusker named Raja and headed 20 kilometres into the forests to shoot, for four days and three nights. Speaking about the experience, Faiza elaborates, “We had scripted the shoot down to the details but quickly realised that we had to spontaneously adapt to the animal’s behaviour. There were many restrictions as well, brightly coloured clothes and perfumes were not allowed.”
For Sakshi, the calendar reflects awareness about the rapid loss of biodiversity, “Humanity needs to protect and celebrate Nature and the elephant is considered to be one of the smartest creatures in the animal world, making the calendar more impactful.” Both Faiza and Sakshi agree on their favourite moment from the shoot — the December photo which depicts the elephant throwing water at Sakshi. Another favourite is where both the model and the elephant can be seen posing similarly, lifting their left leg in the air. Sakshi explains, “Elephants are compassionate creatures. The experience moved us and now we both have volunteered to take care of Raja’s monthly food expenses for a year.”
On the movie front, Sakshi will be seen in Cinderella, a Tamil horror thriller that has been written and directed by Vinoo Venkatesh as well as Teddy, Arya’s upcoming film. She is also awaiting the release of Aayiram Jenmangal this month where she stars alongside GV Prakash Kumar. “I play a village girl, a character very different from my usual roles. It took a lot of practice for me to get the slang right but it was a fun process,” she laughs.
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