Up close and personal with Porus & Prayag

One of the best parts about building a company are the relationships you build along the way. Gunam, the way people see it today, wouldn’t be the same without Porus and Prayag. Their talents came together to create our beautiful pre-launch campaign. I was having nightmares thinking about the visuals we needed for our website and IG, and my friend and model, Sana Thampi, shared Porus and Prayag’s profiles with me. I just remember being at ease post my first call with them; they just had a particular kindness about them. They answered my million and one questions about planning a photoshoot, and when the day came, it was truly magical. Watching them work together with such ease was a treat to the eye.

Needless to say, I’m lucky today to call them my friends. As individuals and as a couple, Porus and Prayag have a special place in my heart. Their relationship seems so effortless, and their passion for their work is truly admirable. For those of you who haven’t seen it already, they created a stunning reel for us during one of their getaways to Sri Lanka. We had our content writer, Ria Bhatia, have a little chat with them to give you a little peek into their work and personal lives. Keep scrolling for the interview and some BTS photographs from our photoshoot in Kerala last August.

-Elizabeth Issac

Founder, Gunam Beauty

In conversation with Porus & Prayag

ICYMI, the names Porus and Prayag, have great significance in Indian history and culture. Porus, the king of the Paurava Kingdom, located in the northwest region of the Indian subcontinent, was known for his valiant fight against Alexander the Great in the Battle of the Hydaspes. Prayag, on the other hand, is a holy city located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is situated at the confluence of three rivers—the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati.

The ingenious Porus Vimadalal and Prayag Menon are equally iconic and historical in the field of creativity. Porus, a well-known creative director and photographer and Prayag, an out-of-the-ordinary stylist are partners in life … and work too, sometimes. Not many know that Porus and Prayag met at the young age of 20 and 18 respectively for the first time. After years of dating, the two finally got married on the 17th of June, 2016 in New York City. But, their partnership and the road to finally tying the knot was nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. From hopping countries to professions, the duo experienced an ebb and flow of distance and intimacy for quite some time before they found their calling as individuals. 

We speak to the two about how they navigated their professional and personal life successfully, staying by each other’s side.

What’s the one thing that excites you the most about your profession?

Porus Vimadalal: At least for me, it’s been the creative aspect, the possibility to meet interesting people and work with other creators. It’s all about collaboration; I think that’s what we really enjoy doing.

Prayag Menon: For me, it would be not having to go to the same workplace every time. Going to a new space, a new studio and working with a new bunch of people keeps things really interesting and cool.

You’ve travelled to countries and jumped professions—how did you realise/identify what you want to finally do? What was your AHA moment?

PV: I studied fashion and then went on to pursue flying (for a while) which isn’t really creative but I still enjoyed it at the time. For me learning is something I generally like and gravitate towards; even today, there are so many things I want to learn and apply in my daily life. Photography happened as a result of this inquisitiveness in me; it was a hobby that I liked pursuing. I wanted to get back to doing something creative despite flying since I had also studied fashion in the beginning. Photography happened very gradually, but also in a way that I firmly decided that I don’t want to pursue flying and switch to something creative—photography felt like the best choice at that point in time.

PM: I don’t really think I experienced an AHA moment as such; it was a rather sudden transition into fashion that took place in my life at the time. Fashion didn’t feel like work, and that was the most redeeming aspect of knowing this is what I would like to do. 

What fuels your creativity?

PV: It’s not like we’re creative all the time—it’s a process; we feel inspired at times, and even uninspired at times. But honestly, there’s no one thing that fuels my creativity per se. I find inspiration in small things and the conversations I share with Prayag. According to me, a creative process should be very natural and gradual; it should be derived from things you experience in your daily life and not a situation where you’re sitting down and “looking” for creativity. 

PM: From conversations to travel, it’s a lot of things — it’s difficult to pin down any one thing.  

Talk a little about your roots—what is your way of celebrating them?

PV: We’re not very traditional, we follow certain cultural aspects like Navroz for me and Onam for Prayag. We see life as enjoying every moment, instead of celebrating a particular day. But growing up, I did not even grow up around a lot of Parsis typically; I know very few Parsis who are mostly cousins or relatives. I haven’t necessarily had immense exposure to Parsis all my life. Similarly, Prayag is also an army kid, which says a lot about his exposure to his culture. 

PM: None of us are traditional, we’re more cosmopolitan. Onam celebrations also take place only when we’re in Bangalore with my parents, not as much otherwise.

How is your piece of work different from the rest?

PV: I think for me, I don’t know if there’s anything in particular that I can say makes my work stand out but I hope other people notice something about my work and tell the difference. For me, something I bet on is my aesthetic sensibilities; certain things I relate to in life and how I see moods in an image. I like capturing people a lot, so I am always looking for interesting faces and interesting personalities, more than anything else. I also like the play of light in my pictures. The focus of the image doesn’t necessarily have to be the light or the person but how it appears overall as a finished product. At times, people do come up to me and say “I recognize, this is your work” but I don’t know what exactly about it helps them make that identification--it could be a mood, the colours I use (I usually like warmer colours).

PM: I would say that my work comes across as quite put together and finished. The signature is usually visible to the viewer. I think for me, it’s mostly the textures, colours and fits I use—a combination of them all. The final aesthetic plays a key role. 

As a couple, you both are partners in life and also in work every so often. How do you individually take out the time to reset and spend some time with yourself?

PV: We generally try to not bring work into our personal lives constantly. When it comes to work, we’re hands-on but we like to do other things together as well. We have our own routines as well. We have our own little thing we enjoy doing every day, whether it’s working out together, sipping on some tea in the afternoon when we’re both home or meeting the people we enjoy hanging out with or just grabbing a meal together. And, travel, of course. I think these things help us keep grounded in the world around us rather than life becoming all about work. We do talk about work, but don’t bring it to life constantly—we disconnect from it every so often.

PM: Yeah, I feel pretty much the same way as Porus.

What would you want to advise someone who is confused about their career?

PV: What I would say to people who are even just starting out is that I used to be very stuck in my ways and had an image of myself and the work that I do. But, as you gain experience and experience life in general, I realised none of that is important at the end of the day. How other people perceive you isn’t important, but how you perceive yourself is what really matters. You need to speak highly about yourself to yourself, you need to be kind, positive and proud of what you are. If you happen to make a mistake, don’t think it will bring you down—it’s not going to. There’s always enough time to explore, learn from your mistakes and go ahead and keep doing things. You need to experience and explore and keep doing that.

PM: I don’t think there is a right time ever. People should always remember that they’re not running out of time and that it’s never too late. Life isn’t a race, it’s an experience and so one should try their hands at everything they enjoy doing and it’s also completely okay to change your mind at any point in life and pursue something else that you like. 

What was your framework while shooting the video for Gunam?

PV: We shot the campaign for the brand as well, so we knew the mood and vibe were very fresh and in the moment--it was all about the skin. We ended up shooting the video while holidaying in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The basic idea was to keep it organic and personal; we’re a couple and we love skincare, so we decided to combine that in an intimate video. We experience the little things around us in the video—nature, the little things and the Gunam products.

PM: Skincare is also a very personal ritual and intimate experience. So it felt beautiful to display a couple indulging in skincare on a holiday. 

What’s your favourite Gunam product?

PV: Multi-Correctional Face Oil

PM: Gentle Foam Cleanser