30/06/2015 12:56 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

These Surreal Photographs Of Indian Celebrities Will Blow Your Mind

Aj Raina

Photographer AJ Raina doesn't believe in cliché-perfect photography. Instead, he looks to highlight the finer details that will ultimately tell a story through his work (featured below). "I develop layers in a picture that continue to tell a story for the viewer, instead of a ten-second tale that finishes abruptly," he said in an interview with HuffPost India.

The Delhi-based photographer who has never professionally studied photography (he picked up photography in 2007 and started shooting professionally in 2010) claims that he would like to fuse his surrealist ideals while shooting with Indian celebrities to showcase them in a different light, quite unlike what they're used to being shot as. "Photography in India is on the horizon where actors and other celebrities will start experimenting in print, instead of just being concerned about how exquisite and perfect they look," he said. "We already know how perfect they look. If I were to show Shah Rukh Khan sitting on a sofa, it wouldn't really do much."

A self-shot portrait of photographer AJ Raina, shot in his signature style.

To create his pictures, AJ sketches his scenes before he actually shoots, sometimes years in advance. He has always had to convince his subjects about the theme of his pictures and says that they have always loved it. "You have to be extremely organised before the shoot — I have left things out in the earlier years when I was developing these skill sets," said the photographer who won 18 awards in Paris at the Prix De La Photographie, one year after he started shooting professionally.

Deeply influenced by several artists from different genres (from Michel Comte to Rembrandt and A.R. Rehman to Kazuo Ishiguro), AJ aims at establishing his work as something along the lines of Annie Leibovitz in India. He wants to create sets that cater to his surreal sense of art, instead of having to rely on post-work tools (higher budgets are not easy to find in India). He would love to shoot with Priyanka Chopra as his next subject. "She's really edgy and experimental, and has already done shoots that are blurring boundaries," he said, also adding that he'd love to feature Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan in a fairy tale series.

"It’s not about just taking a picture — anyone can take a picture. In its finality, art should be entertaining and uplifting and make you smile," finished AJ.

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