Virat Kohli is the kind of guy who is aware of his casanova good looks. And like all dandies, he knows the sort of stance to give in front of the camera. But when I went to photograph him for a magazine, I did not want the standard Kohli photographs – him fixing the lens with his piercing big eyes. Virat has a growing reputation of being brash and rude. But he seems to revel in it. Especially, as this bad boy image goes down pretty well with his legions of female fans and advertisers.
I wanted a mellow Virat. The sort of Virat you don’t see on the cricket field and TV commercials. His brilliance with the bat has cricket commentators decreeing him to be the potential heir to Tendulkar. But at heart, Virat is your average 22 year old. So I decided to meet him in his house, where I could get the real Kohli, rather than the usual Kohli insouciance of the studio.
Kohli’s PR manager opened the door for us at Kohli’s house in West Delhi. While we waited for Kohli to emerge from his room, the PR guy shuffled about the house, tending to this phone call and that. Kohli’s room was right opposite the drawing room where we were seated but the cricketer took about 15 minutes before he finally opened his door and swaggered out. He wore light blue jeans and a loose open-fronted black cardigan. His had a scruffy hairdo with the spikes gelled into place. His stubbled face was scrubbed and eyes still liquid from a recent wash.
I told Kohli to be himself which I realized was difficult for a man who is used to being told to bring out the ‘attitude’ for the camera. He tried but it seemed stilted. We tried some more but it was clearly not working. And then his beagle came scampering in and broke the ice. Virat picked up the the little thing and I got the shots I wanted.
Virat’s mother was the sweet Punjabi host, urging us with tea and biscuits. I asked Kohli if he could pose with his mother as she worked in the kitchen. To the surprise of my colleague he agreed.