• Urvashi Singh

Through the Lens of SHAKTIRAJ JADEJA

A Bangalore-based filmmaker & photographer, Shaktiraj Jadeja’s career path and journey to discover the self was far from linear. Prior to arriving at his final career choice, Shaktiraj’s adventurous career pursuit drove him past the most varied arenas of profession, from finance firms and ad agencies to sports management before he retracted a few steps into what he was passionate about. As a part of him had always known, photography and videography were the spheres where his heart resided and from the day he plunged into Mumbai’s entertainment work pulse, there was no looking back for Shaktiraj. Starting off as a postproduction assistant, Shaktiraj has made it all the way up to being a successful artist in his own right.

Rajputana Collective proudly presents the inspiring career pursuits of Shaktiraj Jadeja, which are not only reflective of the intensely demanding employment sectors that surround us; but also resonate with the individual grit of one person, whose passion propelled him to heights that he himself had never previously imagined.

Image credits: Shaktiraj Jadeja

Initial years

“Way back in 2006, I randomly shot images at my sister’s wedding with a basic Panasonic Digital Camera. More than 60 percent of those photographs made it to her wedding album. Just knowing that was rewarding enough. But I never pursued photography further”, narrates Shaktiraj, in hindsight of when his love affair with the camera had found its nascency.

In no time, his class X board results determined his stream for the next two years, which he spent as a commerce student. Predictably, what followed next was a bachelor’s degree in commerce followed by an immediate progression into Bangalore’s finance firm. A year and a half later, Shaktiraj finally decided what he had been ignoring so far: that this is not the field of work that excited him. He then moved to Ahmedabad for some mental ferment vis-a-vis his career choices, where he pursued an internship at an ad agency as a client service agent. As another year passed him by, this job failed Shaktiraj’s litmus test as well. Sure, he was attached to his colleagues as was the case in the finance firm as well, but these reasons were not compelling enough to make him stay. Embracing his journey thus far, Shaktiraj once again departed his work space to find what his heart truly sought for. And whatever that was, he was sure that it lay far away from the corporate sector.

II. Scripts, editing and football

It could be argued that Shaktiraj’s subconsciousness drew him to conduct an experiment with the art of editing. He began clubbing clips for client presentations for a production company in Ahmedabad itself. The more he attempted to edit clips, the more he realised the infinite wonder that lay in the particular skill. During this particular phase, Shaktiraj would accompany his DSLR-possessing friends to photoshoots around the city. He began experimenting with a friend’s DSLR camera and thoroughly enjoyed shooting in motion. This is how his introduction to filming came into being. However, destiny had another stint planned for him before he would formally establish himself as a professional photographer & filmmaker.

His childhood passion for football made him team up wth a friend to work on organising a local football tournament in Ahmedabad, which would be the first-ever 5-a-side football tournament in the city. An overwhelming response of 97 team registrations with over 600 participants was the response that Shaktiraj and his friend had triggered through their entrepreneurial stint. The tournament proceeded with great success and received much praise. Thereafter, Shaktiraj spent 8 long months attempting to establish a football academy in association with the government, which went in vain. However, what he took away from this chapter as a sports entrepreneur was that another arena was struck down, making him waver towards the creative arena once again.

Image credits: Shaktiraj Jadeja

III. Goodbye Ahmedabad, Hello Mumbai!

Shaktiraj reminisces the turbulent phase that followed the football-management chapter: “I was clueless about how time passed whereby I didn’t do anything and started spending a lot of time int he city and I was barely seen at home. It reached a point where my parents indirectly told me that I needed to go out there and pursue something concrete. It was then that I decided to move to Mumbai.” Having his sister as a resident in Maximum City supported this transit of his and for the next three months, Shaktiraj wandered from pillar to post in search of work. Sooner than later, he stumbled upon Pixon, a postproduction studio in Bandra. After meeting with a senior member of the studio, Shaktiraj was advised to delve deeper into editorial techniques and return with a better grasp of the profession.

His further pursuit was encouraged by his beloved grandmother, who presented him an iMac and a DSLR of his choice, with the help of which the novice began to shoot, collect and edit footage. Around the same time, his brother-in-law linked him up with a promo-producer who assigned Shaktiraj the task of his assistant for Shahrukh Khan’s RaOne. Four months into his job as an assistant in Tinsel Town, Shaktiraj was unhappy with the poor contribution that this role had towards his expertise and experience as an editor. The pursuit was going to be a relentless one and by no means was Shaktiraj a quitter.

Image Courtesy: Shaktiraj Jadeja

IV. UTV & Inkfruit

A friend of Shaktiraj who worked in UTV casually introduced him to an employee in the company’s promo department. He soon found his way as an intern there and in just five months, he was allotted a permanent status whereby he had begun to head several responsibilities. Shaktiraj’s hard-work and ceaseless struggle to find his feet had finally begun to pay off. “My job was not to edit and shoot, but I kept shadowing the editors and learned things about editing. A break finally came when all my seniors were busy and I directed my first-ever film for one of the UTV shows. That was my first experience being on set and part of a 30-member crew, leading and deciding the shots and the film turned out well and was appreciated internally”. Shaktiraj had successfully reached a milestone, and a big one indeed. Moreover, it was one that would take him to another level altogether, one that he refers to as Inkfruit.

A brand called Inkfruit was looking to start their own video department and channel. After an initial test shot, he joined them and was thrilled by this finding. “This feeling was different because I had complete creative freedom to create content” he remarks. Inkfruit was an important landmark for Shaktiraj wherein he had purposefully discovered that in order to deliver fulfilling results, his creativity needed to be practiced in an unrestrained way. He had finally found the space to experiment his editing skills in an unbridled fashion, until one fine day in 2013, the firm got acquired and the video department had to be closed.

V. 22Feet & UNTOLD

Thanks to the recommendation of his CEO at Inkfruit, Shaktiraj approached a media company called 22Feet, in which he would find his longest stationing as a creative professional. There, he worked with renowned brands such as Nike, Kingfisher, Wildcraft, Fastrack, and similar brands that enabled him to enhance his portfolio with greater variation and nuance. Here, along with his contemporaries, Shaktiraj envisioned and executed the building up of a ten-member team of filmmakers, photographers and writers that presently form the online magazine known as UNTOLD.

The congregational result of Shaktiraj and his colleague from within 22Feet, UNTOLD publishes life-changing stories of people that had not found a voice through existing media channels. The documentation of people through UNTOLD is tremendously diverse and comprises of exclusive footages of individuals taken in remotely-known geographical settings. Graphically narrating the exclusive stories of people across the globe is what truly tugged the central core of Shaktiraj’s creative passion. “Shooting for brands doesn’t excite me anymore. I want to document people and tell their stories that have thus far remained UNTOLD”, says Shaktiraj.

And just like that, from being a somewhat displaced youngster who grappled with an increasingly challenging and confusing gamut of career options, Shaktiraj had come a long way. For his relatively young age, the 30-year-old Shaktiraj Jadeja bears within himself, a live example of tirelessly exploring one’s professional possibilities till they find the one that they had been looking for all along. Paired with his courage, Shaktiraj’s blatant refusal to settle for the anything less than what truly stimulated his interest and passion helped him arrive at a platform that he truly desired. He concludes by stating, “to sum up up my story, I’d sat that it has been an awesome journey of varied experiences. Starting from scratch at almost all stages, it has eventually led me to something concrete and beautiful. I’ve met some amazing people along the way who’ll always be part of my story. I’ve believed that you never stop learning and I look for experiences where I could pick up lessons from and constantly improve at them. Let’s see what lies ahead. But I’m sure it’s going to be filled with more such magical experiences and learnings.”

Unacquainted to drawing a limit when it comes to self-exploration, Shaktiraj continues to delve deeper into his field while also taking up new challenges. At present, he is woring with his architect-wife, Aayushee Rathore in building sustainable houses and restoring antique furniture.

A jack of all trades, Shaktiraj is yet to arrive at deciding where he chooses to be king.

Shaktiraj Jadeja