Forbes India 2020 Rewind: Best covers of the year

At Forbes India, a lot of thought goes into the cover shoots and cover design, and this year with the pandemic keeping us out of office and inside our homes, the challenge was elevated to the next level—and we enjoyed it

Anjan Das
Published: Jan 1, 2021 08:02:54 AM IST
Updated: Jan 1, 2021 10:17:35 AM IST

Design Director, Forbes and Forbes Life India, typography/design buff; Home chef; loves blues & rock 'n roll; biking; traveller and a foodie! A sucker for typography, striking visuals, a perfect colour palate and the right choice of type are always top on my checklist.I love conversations on design, be it conventional or out of the box; classy or anarchic; cleaner or clutter; print or digital; product or industrial. Would love to connect from time to time.

3rd jan 2020

Cover: 3rd Jan, 2020

Our annual Forbes India Celebrity 100 issue was a five cover special edition, leading with legendary actor Kamal Haasan. The shoot was scheduled for 3 pm and we were in awe of his punctuality and discipline. For Hassan, the idea was to shoot powerful cover close ups and some personality-based shots since his demeanour calls for it. True to his skills, Hassan was a photographers’ delight, and he gave us the most powerful expressions. A strong hint of the delicate mash up of actor and politician were prevalent in most of his poses donning the draped black kurta curated by his personal stylist. It was one of the best shoots we have done in a long time, and one of our most viewed ones as well.

14th feb 2020

Cover: 14th Feb, 2020

Shooting our young achievers of Forbes India 30 Under 30 is always fun. Shot in our in-house studio in Mumbai along with photo editor Mexy Xavier, we had a few listees—as we call them—fly in from different cities. Brimming with energy, most of the photos from these shoots are raw and real, since the under-30 young ones aren’t media trained like the billionaires. The storyboard plan was to shoot the cover image against a white backdrop and then incorporate geometrical graphics/elements to give it a vibrant and colourful look. The tear-sheet treatment to the cover headline and introduction, the dotted perforation on the masthead worked out really well with the subjects and aesthetics of the cover art. One of our most viewed covers as well. 

13th mar 2020

Cover: 13th March, 2020

Forbes India enjoys shattering stereotypes and W-Power annual special provides an ideal platform to do just that. An incredible mix of women makes it difficult to pick a small group for the cover shoot but it’s a choice we have to make every year. Photo editor Mexy Xavier was shooting at our in-house studio in Mumbai and thankfully only one of the cover women had to fly in. We opted for a strong blue backdrop. It was important to get good close portrait to bring to live the strength and resilience of our powerful women. For the headline I chose a classy serif font and a yellow-orange gradient on the masthead which complimented the rest of the elements on the cover. The cover turned out to be bold and attractive in the end.

8th may 2020

Cover: 8th May, 2020 Ventures Vs Virus

One of our most sought after covers during the pandemic. The widening coronavirus crisis can be characterised as a black swan—an unforeseen event with drastic consequences. India’s startup community, however, showed no signs of abating. Our cover featured a selection of six such companies that took the battle against coronavirus head-on. Since it was the early days of the pandemic, shooting was completely out of question. As we moved to an online-only edition we turned our subjects into photographers, with photographs shot on smartphones. With video conferencing and Zoom becoming our go-to, the idea was to create a similar screen for the cover, as if to show they were all conversing with Forbes India with the equipment from their workspaces in tow. A dark turquoise colour blend was used to bring out the foreground artwork along a bold yellow san serif headline font.

19th june 2020

Cover: 19th June, 2020.

Our pandemic cover series continued, featuring Sridhar Vembu of Zoho Corp. Shooting Vembu was an absolute challenge we enjoyed. He was around 650 km inland from the capital of Tamil Nadu at that time and organising a photographer there even without the pandemic would have been a task. After several phone calls with limited connectivity, we finally managed to convince Vembu’s team to get some images of him shot from the location. The idea was to elaborate on his current work environment, a serene backdrop of vegetation and greenery in one of the villages of  Mathalamparai in Tamil Nadu. After detailed briefings with his team on portraits and aesthetics, we brought it home. Stark bottle green colour palate was used on the typography and the mast head to portray the greenery on the shot. 

17th july 2020

Cover: 17th July, 2020.

Our redesigned cover for ‘The World Billionaires' special edition featured Caravel Group’s Harindarpal Banga. Given the personality of the billionaire tycoon we needed a strong, opulent portrait. After considerable amount of research, we got our hands on this lovely portrait of him. His personality was at ease, sporting a dapper suit and against one of his collectables (painting). The tone of the image was spot on for a cover portrait. The typography was a clean classy serif font, and was kept to the minimal to ensure that the portrait speaks for itself.

11 sept 2020

Cover: 11th Sept, 2020, Featuring Varun Berry, MD, Britannia Industries.

The cover was shot in Bengaluru at his residence with complete safety protocol, including social distancing and sanitisation. The idea: We decided on a subtle or prop of the company by replacing his pocket square with one of the best-selling biscuits from Britannia. We opted for a stark grey textured backdrop to bring out his personality through the portrait. Rest assured, he posed like the ‘Tough Cookie’ he is, and we managed to get that dynamic cover worthy portrait.

6th nov 2020

Cover: 6th Nov, 2020.

Our cover featuring Ajay Singh, Chairman & MD of Spicejet airlines, was for a timely story by Forbes India Assistant Editor Manu Balachnadran. Beleaguered with financial problems, the pandemic may not have been the only headwind blowing SpiceJet’s way. We needed a strong cover choice for Singh. From the beginning, the idea was to go for something larger than life, and what’s better than a plane itself! We locked it in, and headed to the airport but not before we maneuvering the mammoth task of rules and regulations, permissions and protocols of shooting at an airport and during a pandemic. But we were not giving up hope. It took several back and forth phone calls and conversations to convince his team too. Senior photographer Amit Verma got some fantastic portraits of Singh against one of the planes from his fleet. The images spoke for itself with amazing perspectives and angles with the enormous aircraft in the backdrop against the clear blue sky. His majestic personality really came out in the shot that was used for the cover. One of our best shot covers indeed. The design elements and typography was kept clean and minimal to let the photograph stand out. 

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