A quick glance at Mahendra Agrawal depicts an image of a quintessential neighborhood photo studio lens man, whom you come across hundreds of towns across India. But the resemblance with his professional siblings just stops here. Mahendrabhai has much more than a hidden talent under his affable smile.
Studio photography serves his means of livelihood, but Mahendrabhai survives on a dose of multiple passions he professes. He dons various roles as an actor, singer, lyricist, musician and also as a journalist with elan!!! Forty-eight year old Mahendrabhai has acted in 12 Gujarati films with no CBFC certification and produced around 22 audio-video music albums. વાગી કટારી તારા પ્રેમની roughly translated as Your Love Dagger Hit My heart is the film where he poured his heart out. His latest feature film પ્રતિશોદ or Revenge is in the offing which will hit Gujarati cinema screens shortly.
Venture into the temple town of world famous Ambaji and ask about Mahendrabhai to anybody and you would be led to his photo studio cum newspaper office. Two large billboards scream about two distinct identities Mahendrabhai seamlessly get into as day passes. These interesting billboards are a study in themselves. ‘Agrawal Digital Studio’ in multi-color banner tells about the photography job done there. The austere one in black and white one tells about the place also home to ‘The Times of Banas-Gujarati Wiklee News Papar ‘starkly hinting at publisher’s intent to stick to produce a language newspaper only. It also informs you about Mahendrabhai as its Chif Editor of the newspaper. (You may not find Wiklee, Papar and Chif in a regular dictionary, but here they are not cardinal sins)
The front panels also draw your attention to Mahendra’s yet another passion – rubbing shoulders with celebrities who come visiting the temple to seek blessing of goddess Amba. No celebrity worth his salt could escape the roving eye of Mahendrabhai’s lens. From TV stars to movie stars to biggies on the political firmament all got captured with Mahendrabhai.
No less than the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi also obliged, though he was Chief Minister of Gujarat then. Each moment of prominence with instant fame made its way into Mahendrabhai’s studio – neatly tucked into walls. Mahendrabhai has a keen interest in the local political scene too, and readily extends his help to Legislators and Parliamentarians to pen questions to be asked in the Vidhan Sabha. And sometimes in Parliament too!!
You think you had a drift about maverick’s life by now. But actually you haven’t. Mahendrabhai’s aptitude for versatility surpasses the average benchmark. He played the role of a cop too. Yes, you heard it right, he was an actual cop with Gujarat Police till 2002. “Major differences cropped up between me and my immediate superiors,” says Mahendrabhai which forced him to resign from police services abruptly.
Mahendrabhai’s got no regrets in life. In any case, he gets into any role he rejoices with the drop of a hat!!!