The Grand Kerbau Hotel

Monday evenings are usually reserved for trekking home after work and planting myself in front of the telly watching MasterChef. Not one bit exciting, but then again, Mondays are usually not meant for fun in my books. Well, not until a Facebook event invite popped up in my inbox – most usually go ignored – but it was a birthday invite of a dear friend, who doesn’t enjoy celebrating her birthdays, yet she has set up a date (on a school night!) for our group of friends to visit a photo studio to take some pics. Not one to shy away from photo ops (#ProudNarcissist moment), I immediately RSVPed ‘Yes’ even before I got more details.

As it turned out, the studio we were visiting is Sajeev Digital Studio, a blink-and-you-might-miss-it photo studio tucked away in the corner of Kerbau Road in Little India. Run by the photographer, Sajeev and his wife, some research and a 10-minute whatsapp convo with another friend brought me up to speed with why the birthday girl had chosen this quaint little spot to have our pics taken. Sajeev Digital Studio is the go-to studio for Indian and Sri Lankan workers to take portrait prints to be sent home for matchmaking purposes. Here, customers are able to choose from a selection of traditional scenic backdrops or even digital backdrops to be stripped in by Sajeev later. And from what we’ve heard, Sajeev must be really good at what he does, because there’s been a guaranteed 100% success rate with his customers.

Sajeev

Pumped with excitement, our group turned up at Sajeev’s two-storey shophouse studio on a balmy Monday evening prepared to give it all we’ve got. We’re usually a bunch that take dress themes very seriously and pride ourselves in being psyched and up for anything, so nothing fazed us, my only concern was that we would scare the crap out of Sajeev. But not only was Sajeev in good spirits and extremely accommodating towards our antics, he was also more than happy to give in to our weird requests which saw him reach into his cupboards to retrieve faux fur rugs and let us goof around with the myriad watercolour backdrops and studio props. At one point, I even laid on the floor to get into the mood for love (I couldn’t resist, I was wearing a cheongsam) where Sajeev humoured me by taking some “glamour” shots while the rest of our party helped themselves to the blazers, graduation gowns and other props Sajeev kept in the next room.

Soon enough, it was time to get into action, and the Wes Anderson of our group art directed us into positions and calling out posing instructions while Sajeev snapped away. The result? The Royal Tenenbaums meets The Grand Budapest Hotel-style memories immortalised in print and the digital cloud, and most importantly, an experience of a lifetime shared with my closest friends. Despite my countless jokes about snaring a man with my very own matchmaking portraits courtesy of Sajeev, I found Sajeev Digital Studio to be more than just another run-of-the-mill photo studio. Living in a digital age where we take many things for granted, the art of photo taking and such studios are fast becoming a lost art. Seeing my favourite childhood duck rice stall close it doors after 30 years of operation and how nonchalantly we throw around USB sticks, have touched a raw note in my nostalgic self. Whatever your motivation, I urge you to pay Sajeev Digital Photo Studio a visit with your mates, other half or even your family. My verdict: 100% fun guaranteed.

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All photos here taken by Sajeev. Sajeev Digital Studio is located at 23 Kerbau Road, Tel: 6296 6537.

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