Every celebrity needs right branding: Atul Kasbekar

New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) Ace photographer Atul Kasbekar, whose name is synonymous with the Kingfisher swimsuit calendar, also keeps busy with his celebrity management firm and his client list boasts of Bollywood stars like Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor and Shilpa Shetty. But he maintains that photography continues to be his priority.

"No, photography has not taken a back seat. My hands are full right now. I just had a shoot with Shah Rukh Khan for Tag Heuer and then I have some photo shoots for a fashion magazine. There is just work, work and only work," Kasbekar told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

Kasbekar, 43, launched Bling Entertainment Solutions in 2007 and has cricketer Zaheer Khan too as a client apart from actors. He says he got into the new business as he had "goodwill" among many Bollywood celebrities.

"It was a natural progression for me because after working in the industry for around 18 years, I have developed goodwill and good contacts with many Bollywood stars. I have direct access to most of them; so I decided to use it to my advantage."

Kasbekar stressed that "respect" and "credibility" play a vital role in surviving in the industry as celebrity management is still in its nascent stage in India.

"The celebrity management industry is in the nascent state; therefore to enter this area you need to have strong contacts in Bollywood. Also, one's company should have the credibility of doing what it promises its clients," he said.

According to Kasbekar, right branding is very important for any celebrity.

"It is very important to get yourself associated with a good celebrity management company because you can never take your position for granted in this industry," said Kasbekar.

"One should choose right people, who can take care of their public relations department because if you don't do that, then at the end of the day you end up doing damage control for your image," he added.

Talking about the USP of his company, Kasbekar said it was its "accessibility" factor that sets it apart from its competitors.

"Our equation with the celebrities is very much like a family. So we can easily access them at any given point of time. So when big brands approach us, we promise to revert back within 48 hours. If we can't, then they are free to approach any other company," he said.

"We don't promise a deal between a celebrity and a brand because of various factors like price, but yes we make sure that we are able to reply in time to the brand," he added.

Kasbekar explained that a celebrity management company is a "medium through which two different poles - celebrities and brands - are connected".

Taking the example of current Bollywood heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor, Kasbekar said: "We believe that Ranbir represents youth and youngsters will identify with him. Hence we have been instrumental in closing both of his endorsements deals - Pepsi and Panasonic."

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