2 National Awards, 1 Emmy
2 Art Directors Club of New York Awards
over 30 other awards
Rafeeq Ellias began his career in 1969 with the Bombay office of McCann Ericsson where he worked for 5 years, followed by a year with J. Walter Thompson. In 1975, he moved to Japan where he worked for the Tokyo office of Ketchum McLeod & Grove for 5 years, handling the worldwide accounts of Japan Air Lines, Imperial Hotel, Chase Bank, Suntory Whiskey, Sony TVs, among other Japanese and international brands.
During this time he began travelling extensively in the Far East and Southeast Asia and was soon taking travel pictures for Japan Air Lines as well as TIME Magazine and The New York Times Travel Section. On his return to India, Rafeeq set up a creative shop with photography at its core. His clients ranged from Air-India and Discover India Magazine to leading fashion brands like Benzer, Park Avenue, Vimal Sarees and large corporations like Bennett Coleman, Bank of America, Procter & Gamble.
He has won over 30 national and international awards, including 2 from the Art Directors Club of New York; Photographer of the Year and Best Photograph of the Year at the Communications Arts Guild in Mumbai; Gold, Silver and Bronze at ADASIA, to name a few. His works have been published by Graphis Press in Switzerland as well as leading art and photography journals in Japan and Europe. Rafeeq’s public interest films for UNICEF were broadcast wordwide for which Star TV received an Emmy Award at the hands of actor Mia Farrow in New York.
His pictures of Kolkata’s Chinatown were a part of the inaugural show of the Museum of Cultures in Basel, Switzerland, when it re-opened after extensive renovations in 2011. Rafeeq’s films include his first 16 mm documentary in 1998 as a cinematographer for Britain’s Channel Four on the Kumbh Mela in India (“The Nectar of Immortality”), which was shot over 65 days in the higher peaks of the Himalayas down to Haridwar and Rishikesh on the river Ganga.
He has also shot a film on the condition of Mumbai’s pavement and slum dwellers (“Slum Mumbai”); another on the historic 150-year old library of the Asiatic Society in the city (”Steps in Time”); and recently a film on Mumbai as a cinema city (”Do Rafique”) in conversation with Rafique Baghdadi, a noted chronicler and historian. In 2003, Rafeeq made his landmark film “The Legend of Fat Mama” for BBC World on the Chinese community in Kolkata. The opening film of BBC’s China Week, it was broadcast in over 200 countries, besides winning two National Awards, the best film at MIFF 2006 and runner-up at the Asian Broadcast Awards in Singapore. The film has been screened at festivals in New York, Seattle, Toronto, Manchester, Barcelona and Oslo.
Rafeeq’s other passion is photographing ballet (and opera) which he has been doing for over a decade in Moscow, Novosibirsk, Ufa, Tashkent, Moldova and Bucharest for an annual international festival of dance and music.
His first feature film, ‘Love You To Death’, was an official selection at 10 international film festivals and winner of an audience award in Anchorage; it premiered in leading cinemas in India in February 2012.