I am rich. Rich with the treasure of photographs I have, the passion I carry and the zeal with which I live my life to the fullest, Zindagi vakay gulzar hai | Humans of Mumbai

_DSC8812HUmansI am rich. Rich with the treasure of photographs I have, the passion I carry and the zeal with which I live my life to the fullest, Zindagi vakay gulzar hai | Humans of Mumbai

I hail from the two lovely states of India – my father from Kudachi (Karnataka) & and my mother from Madai (Kutch – Gujarat). Hence, Dakni from Father’s side and Cutchi Memon from Mother’s.

Born and brought up with utmost love and care from Parents and 5 adorable Khalas (Aunts).

Two schools – Diamond Jubilee (till 4th Standard) and St. Josephs High School (Umerkhadi) .. those days were fun .. got love from most of my teachers which was reciprocated with respect from my side. I am still in touch with most of them.

Wish my Teachers Maam Jhoola Fernandes and Maam Shyamala Ramani reads this.

While in school I met my first teacher .. my first Guru Shri Arif Kazi, showed confidence in me and pushed me into dramatics .. the seed was sown … thnks so much Arif Bhai for being that Elder Brother and showing me the right path and always guiding me.

College life was more of freedom, romance and love.

Was not much of a good student but studied just before my exams and got satisfactory results most of the time.

Married the lady whom i loved when I was in the 3rd year of College, I took the responsibility of my married life and started looking for work.

The spate of jobs followed – Space seller with Free Press Newspaper, Sold Fax machines to corporate houses, took passports to consulates for Raj Travels, Front Office Receptionist at Balwas International Hotel, Bombay Mercantile Cooperative Bank Ltd – Position: Token and Scroll.

When I was in Bank, I was forced to make a folio by my dear friend Rashid Khan as he thought I had a face and the smile to become a good model.

6 months from thn I shot my folio with photographer Zul Siwani and started seeking help as to how to go about getting work as a model from who so ever could offer me.

During this process, I met a school friend of mine who at that time was into modeling and was doing good.

The meeting was disastrous and the friend had developed major attitude and this is what he told me …
“Abey tu kya model banega .. teri shakal aur motapa to dekh .. kuch aur kar .. modeling tere bas ki baat nahi hai …”.

My journey started as model started with an AV for a group of budding film makers of XISC … two of them are established film makers in their own right now .. Mukul Abhyankar and Rahul Dholakia.

Still shoots, textile posters and being part of a crowd in an Ad Film too. I was happy doing whatever was being offered as I had no knowledge as to how the advertising industry functions. Just knew that pictures have to given to advertising agencies, model co-ordinators and production houses.

I did not know my worth, did not even know that my smile has some zing. It was later while working with the advertising geniuses and doing more folios that I came to know my plus and minus points.

On one such shoot, I met a model called Suhail Suleman and he showed me his folio and told me about Gautam Rajadhyaksha – The ACE photographer of India. I was zapped to see the quality of the folio which Suhail had and marveled at the lighting and the presentation of the model by Gautam ji. He gave me Gautamji’s number and soon I met Gautam ji and got shocked by hearing his fee, which was Rs.4000/- for doing the folio, a very big amount that time (in 1998). I shared this with my dad, who was an employee of “Bombay Port Trust” and probably that must be his entire month’s salary in those days. He declined saying you should garner work whatever you can with the Zul Siwani’s folio. But my wife offered her gold chain for the folio which fetched me around Rs.3500/-. But I was still short of Rs.500/- I met Gautamji and he was generous enough to do my folio for Rs.3500/-.

Gautam ji clicked my folio and I never looked back after that moment. The process of distributing those photographs to various advertising agencies, production houses and model co coordinators started once again.

The first phone call came from Z films, Mr Dilip Ghosh was the first ad film director who gave me my first chance in an ad film called Boney Mix.

I knew nothing about expression or posing .. but just followed by director and their commands ..

I just smiled through all the advertising films and still shoots and despite of the odds my friend saw in me I became one of the most popular advertising model and got listed in the Limca book of records (2004) as the only model to have done the maximum ads in India. I give my ‘smile’ the credit for whatever good times I saw in the world of Modeling.

While working in an ad film .. I got to meet Theater Guru Shri Giresh Desai, while waiting for our shots we had ample time and he told me all about Bhartiya Natya Sheekhsapeeth and the world of dramas and theatre.

I came under his guidance and started doing plays under his direction, an amazing human and a great Guru. Apart from acting what Sir taught me was what love, compassion and Humanity is all about. In these times we need many many more Bhau Saheb in this world who can teach us lessons on Humanity.

Started my own group and did many experimental plays at Geeta Mandir at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Auditorium and experienced the magic of stage and tried to make myself a better actor and a better human.

While modeling, I also simultaneously did some good serials with eminent Directors and Makers in between … O Maria (with Satish Kaushik ji and Ram Bundelaji), Gharounda (with Rajan Waghdhare ji and Chota mooh badi baat (with Parvati Balgopalan), Main (with Swapna Waghmare Joshiiji) to name a few … hosted two film based programme ‘Ujala Filmi baatein’ with Pravin Karale & Zee and Bollywood Reporter’ with Plus channel.

Did two films as a lead actor too but then it got caught in distribution hassles and could not get released …

Got to meet & work with some of the most amazing directors who brought out the best from me, wonderful cinematographers who made me look good, Makeup wizards who made me look presentable on screen nd lastly have greatest regards for those beautiful co models and super talented kid models.

The journey as model and actor ended around 2007 .. Modeling stopped … Serials were taken off Air and movies didn’t release .. a very bad phase .. everything was working against me .. had all the free time and nothing to do .. nothing to look forward to.. I was living the worst phase of life both personally and professionally. From Zenith straight to Nadar. But we the mortals don’t realize that the almighty have bigger and better plans for us, instead of thanking him for making such a novice like me a popular model, loved by many, I always complained and complained as to why me?

But the Almighty had other plans for me which I could not understand at that point of time ..

In 2007 I didn’t know anything about Camera or Aperture or Shutter or ISO and most importantly how to play with light. One fine afternoon, I took my Cosina camera in my hand, started to marvel it, looking at it I checked the lens as to how it moves in and out (was a novice not knowing that its called the zooming power of lens), thus my journey and my love for camera and photography started. But then when you start anything new, you arr confused and there are detractors all around.

I was told “ki yaar modeling nahi chal rahi to abhi photography karega magar photography modeling nahi .. bahut difficult hai … battis daant dikhao aur product ko haath me lekar hasna easy hai … Photography light ka khel hai .. light ko samjhne mein hi teri zindagi nikal jayegi” …

What my detractors didn’t knew then and even now is that what I have and what they lack is the indomitable spirit and love i have for whatever i want to attain and achieve. If there are Detractors then there is Inspiring force too around you.

Initially I started shooting folios of upcoming models with outdoor locations and earned whatever I could. Confidence was boosted when my friends Mohib Khan, Salim Baig, Khalid Siddique, Husain Khan and Aijaz Khan started referring me to their friends to click their folios by me.
Thats how i started earning again.

Late, Narayan bhai of IPA and Shabir Patel motivated me and coaxed me to start hiring studio and shoot indoor as well. I was now shooting both indoor and outdoors. I did everything to gain knowledge, explored not only the camera but also the art and the technicalities which go along with it. In the process, I came to know what aperture, shutter and ISO is all about. I came to know that apart from shooting head shots or folios there are many other genres like tabletop, architecture which one can delve into.

Slowly, I shifted from studio to outdoors and explored Mumbai through 18-105 kit lens. Shot almost all the towers which were sprouting up in and around south Mumbai. Then later I bought Tokina Fisheye lens and freaked over it. The curves it presented and the wideness it gave me just made me shoot more and more with it.

Later when I had almost shot anything and everything of Mumbai’s landmark I had the opportunity to meet Photographer Babul Bhatt .. an amazing photographer and a generous person as well.. I distinctly remember our meeting and shooting Mohd Ali Road in the month of Ramzan and therefore the first time I saw this little magic called 50mm on his camera .. as i said he was generous and he gave me his camera and I shot his portrait with it .

50mm ka nasha jo chadha to utra hi nahi … along with that at the same time I chanced upon a product shot which had bokeh and thus started the journey of 50mm, table top photography with natural available light and bokeh which later I also connected with Rumi’s sahabs sayings and created visuals which went with the quotes.

Coming back to Babul Bhatt’s generosity .. later he also taught me the techniques of how to shoot Blue hour visuals and I am indebted to him for life.

Sticking to just one genre continuously for many years can bring monotony. Mine was a bigger challenge as I had a past of being a popular model. There was this talk “ki abhi saale ki modeling, acting nahi chal rahi to photography try kar raha hai .. iska kuch hone wala nahi”.

I had not only to prove myself but to prove my detractors wrong. For me Photography was a do or die situation flickr gave me a platform to showcase my clicks, where photographers from all over the world visited and gave positive comments on my visuals, which boosted my confidence immensely. When I started, I made a promise to myself that if I am entering this world, I will put in my best and would not stick to one genre and would explore every genre of it.

International photographers are very generous in sharing their knowledge through videos, so I learnt whatever I could.

A time came when I wanted to experiment and learn lighting with speed lights, so Hari Mahidhar Sir whom I knew from my modeling days came to my rescue, he was so generous that he invited me to his studio and taught me everything he could in speed lighting.

My story would be incomplete without the support of Shabir Patel, an amazing friend and a great photographer himself. I don’t think without his able support I could ever think of becoming a photographer and also learn post processing with Photoshop.

So explored every nuance and genre of this amazing art and whatever I learnt I presented it into two seasons of 365. I shared all the makings of those visuals as well to all my friends on facebook as i felt sharing is actually gaining knowledge. So what I took I gave it all back.

While I was doing season 2 of 365 and in the middle of it, I lost my dad. He was everything for me, but I kept the season on. Uploaded a photo on the day of his demise.

Khair Zindagi abhi khatam nahi hui, bas fark ye hai ki ab meri diary mein, Allah se shikve kam ho gaye hai. Maine un chizon par raazi hona seekh liya hai jo wo mujhe deta hai aur un cheezon ki talaash chod di hai jo naa haasil hai.

2,935 Photographs clicked and on display at flickr, two seasons of 365 project, One hundred and sixteen 360 degree virtual panoramas of India, more then 135 stories in Humans of Mumbai, commercially associated with best of the architectural firms, amazing family, great wife, able support of my sisters, lovely daughters & friends who can die for me.

I am rich. Rich with the treasure of photographs I have, the passion I carry and the zeal with which I live my life to the fullest.

By grace and generosity of Allah I still have a long way to go … lots to do and lots to achieve.

Lastly Zindagi vakay gulzar hai.

As i wrote earlier if there are Detractors then there are Inspiring forces too around you.

Thanks to Arif Kazi bhai for introducing me to dramatics very early in my school life.

Late Shri Giresh Desai for being my Guru and for being ‘The Human’ amongst Humans. My love and respect for him has no boundaries.

Writer Sadik bhai for giving me ‘Vaapsi’. I played Eunuch in the play for which i earned the best actor prize.

Late Shri Giresh Desai for being my Guru and for being ‘The Human’ amongst Humans. My love and respect for him has no boundaries.

Writer Sadik bhai for giving me ‘Vaapsi’. I played Eunuch in the play for which i earned the best actor prize.

Thanks to all these Inspiring forces behind my learnings as a model: friend Rashid Khan (for modeling), Abu Siwani Sahab and Zul Siwani Photography (mentor nd great motivaters), friend Shruti Lavingya, Shirodkar ji of Saaheb Shirts), Photographer Guru Gautam Rajadhyaksh ji (for shooing my folio and always guiding and inspiring me as a model) Photographer Sanjiv Nadkarni (for giving me my first still break in modeling) Z Films and Shri DilipGhosh (for giving me my first ad film break is model), Kanika Bharat (for giving me Sunrise coffee and making me household face in Chennai), Anita Israni ji for all the modeling work she offerend me in Mumbai, (Biju Jayadevan, Rukmani Padmanabh , Thara Thaara Umesh and Lakshmi Sivakumar for making me a come again and again to beautiful Chennai to shoot as a model)

Thanks to all these Inspiring forces behind my learning as a Photographer: Friends Mohib Khan, Salim Baig Panda, Khalid Siddiqui, Husain Attar and Aijaz Khan (got me folios and from that my earnings), Narayan Bhai of IPA (for Indoor Photography – God bless him always), Diego de miranda and Trey Ratcliff for HDR, Dustin Diaz for speedlight & doing 365 Project, Hari Mahidhar Sir (for usage of Speedlights), Sir Haresh Daftary (for being a brother I always wished for and inspiring me always in photography), Babul Bhatt (for being an understanding friend and teaching me Long exposure and Blue hour), Photographer Rizwan Mithawala (for coaxing me to try out table tops at home), Gharawala Bharat (for sharing anything and everything which is connected to photography) and finally Shabirali Patel who was so very inspiring and motivating in sharing knowledge whenever I wanted.

Naresh Nagda, Imran Patel & Javed Mulla (for being very good humans and friends).



Britannia is my life, it is my second home. My first home was Persia that my father brought me from | Humans of Mumbai


I am senior partner of Britannia & Co, Ballard Estate.

My father brought me here when I was only 8 / 9 years old and I grew up in this Ballard Estate locality all along.

I am now 92 years old and i find a lot of change during all these years.

In the previous years in olden times when the British people were here life was very slow but now everything has changed .. life has become very fast .. population has increased .. traffic has increased and everything has changed.

Even the nature and the conduct of people have changed.

When i read the newspapers rapes are being committed .. crimes are being committed I fee very very depressed.

I wish Narendra Govt will do something about all this and will make it a happier place to live.

Now I grew up here in Mumbai .. did my schooling and college and after my father departed for his heavenly abode I took care of this restaurant.

Britannia is my life, it is my second home. My first home was Persia that my father brought me from.

I meet various people from all over the world .. tourists come here .. scholars come here and I am very happy with my life and I am always at the service of my customers.

When I am gone my two sons will continue my business.


I have not given up and will keep fighting till my last breath for my daughters | में हारा नहीं हूँ, जब तक मेरी जान है में झुंझुंगा ज़िन्दगी के इम्तिहानों से | Humans of Mumbai


I have been selling Lassi (Buttermilk) since 1993. The thirst for which I had come to Mumbai from UP is not yet quenched. My effort to feed my family and make a living for them is still on. Now I have got diabetes, also recently undergone Heart Surgery. With this surgery, I keep thinking that now I cant depend on my life so for the sake of my children I should do something and then leave this world. My heart surgery cost us 5 lakhs rupees. Anyhow I am managing for the bread, have not given up but worry that what will happen of my family after me?

Doctor has also said that I don’t have a long life and keep taking medicines for the heart and diabetes. I got 5 girl child, out of 3 have been married. I keep worrying about them after my death. I have not given up and will keep fighting till my last breath for the well being of my daughters. I will have to live for my children. I have already prepared them for the worst and made sure that they wont beg on any door after I die.

Fighting is the essence of life and if the Almighty wishes life will go on, otherwise . . . .

१९९३ से लस्सी और छास बेच रहा हूँ| उत्तर प्रदेश से मुंबई जिन ख्वाबो को पूरा करने आया था वह अब तक नहीं पूरा कर पाया हूँ|
कोशिश जारी है की अपने परिवार के लिए जीने और खाने का थोड़ा रास्ता हो जाए|
अब मुझे डायबिटीज है और दिल का ऑपरेशन करा चूका हूँ तो अब में यही सोचता हूँ की ऑपरेशन के बाद ज़िन्दगी का कोई भरोसा नहीं तो बस कैसे भी अपने बच्चों के लिए कुछ और बनाकर फिर ऊपर भगवन के पास चले जाऊं|
हमने दिल का ऑपरेशन कराया और उसमे ५ लाख रूपए खर्चा हो गए, अभी कैसे भी करके दाल रोटी चल रहा है|
उम्मीद जीने की नहीं छोड़ी, मगर डर ये है की कभी भी झटका लग सकता है तो मेरे परिवार का क्या होगा?
डॉक्टर ने कहा है की अब तुम्हारी कोई ज़्यादा ज़िन्दगी नहीं है, जब तक जी सकते हो डायबिटीज और दिल की दवा चालू रखो|
५ लड़कियां है मेरी और उनमे से ३ की शादी हो गई, मेरी यही परेशानी है की मेरे बाद मेरी लड़कियों का क्या होगा?
में हारा नहीं हूँ, जब तक मेरी जान है में झुंझुंगा ज़िन्दगी के इम्तिहानों से और मेरी लड़कियों के लिए मुझे जीना पड़ेगा, उनके लिए भी बना चूका की मेरे मरने के बाद वह भीक नहीं मांगेगें, किसी के दरवाज़े पर नहीं जायेंगें|
ज़िन्दगी के इम्तिहानों से लड़ना ही ज़िन्दगी है और मालिक चाहेगा तो आगे ज़िन्दगी चलेगी नहीं तो …


What wrong has the cat done to you for such an inhuman reaction | Humans of Mumbai


We have a small business of selling sarees and blankets.

From past 26 years me and my husband are feeding stray cats .. earlier it was dogs but from past 15 years we are feeding cats from this area. It’s like doing a good deed .. we love doing it.

Earlier they were stray now they have become our pets.
We have around 20 cats now. We have kept their names as well.
Rani, Karishma, Raja, Vishnu, Gopal, Vithal, Dolly, Chutki, Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, Sher Singh, Tiger, Jalaram, Kaalu to name a few of them.

If anyone of them gets hurt or dies we cry and and it affects our health.

Sher Singh died couple of months back, i cried and cried and even doctor told me I don’t have to get so emotional and so attached as it could affect my health in the long run but this grief comes with the death of a family member.

I have a daughter but i love these cats more then her.
As we shower love to them they too express their own ways by their actions and we both forget all are day to day worries seeing their love for us.
These cats are our life now and coz the virtue of this we are leading a good life.
We are very happy and contended.
We never keep them hungry, even if we go outside for some work and come late in the night we see to it that we get milk for them and make them drink it.

Initially it was my husband and my daughter who loved and took care of them but now its me who is more attached and feel for these cats then them.

Apart from these cats if any one of the animals here in this area dies .. i go and bury them in a ground nearby and do the rituals.

When one of our dog died we went all the way to Nasik to do its rituals and my husband even did a mundan like as when a family member dies.

Look at the height of superstition when a cat crosses ones path that person stops and shoo the cat away .. we ask them what wrong has the cat done to you for such an inhuman reaction, if anything bad is going to happen to you in your life it will be because of the bad karma or the bad deeds you must have done and not coz of the cat.

Infact, its you who has crossed the cat’s path and spoilt her day for her being empty stomach for the day.
We keep fighting with people in this area to safeguard these cats interest on such trivial reasonings of people.

The cats eat pigeons and rats .. these people have a problem with that as well .. they don’t understand that this is nature .. animals eat animals .. thats the law the jungle follows and same goes here as well to balance the ecological system but No they say the cats should not harm any pigeons and rats.

I have recorded the story on video as well which can be viewed here: