Power Dresser

Mumbai, Jan 21 | Updated: Jan 22 2007, 07:40am hrs
He has burnt himself with his passion. His singed eyebrows have only just managed to grow back. But for 36 year old Zubinn Ponnappa, all this is part of the thrill of doing his job_working with motorbikes. Sitting amidst Suzuki, Hayabusa, Cruzers in an automotive event in Powai, -- where every bike on display has been painted by him he looks benignly at the crowd that wants to photograph his works.

The yellow coloured Suzuki GSXR 1000, similar to the one he drove in Dhoom attracts a lot of attention, at the Financial Express sponsored Automotive, which featured bikes, cars and trucks all modified for GenNext. Ponnappa decides to drive the Suzuki, with painted flames leaping to scorch the rider, for a small stretch. Costing around 10 lakhs, the machine has been tweaked for race preparedness. And when it moves, the pulsating machine whoops while the crowd watches agape.

Ponnappa just looks on the road and zooms off. Later, he says, he is used to all the attention, I am living out my dream. As a kid, I wanted to have a bike and ride it. I realised my dream soon enough. Then the girls came boldly asking for a ride. And even that phase is over now, he smiles.

For Ponnappa, the thrills are now about painting the bikes into "dream machines". Performance tuning is our USP, he says, besides, custom painting bikes. Each bikes paintwork is a reflection of its owner. When a customer comes with a paint job to make his bike look different, the first thing we want to know is his or her profile. I always insist the customer should select his favourite shade. With these basics in place, I can let my imagination run riot. Often, the customer lets Ponnappa do the thinking. That does not help. It is not me who is going to ride the bike, he admits.

His unique job has got him a place in the Limca Book of Records, besides ad films and the 'odd film, Dhoom. The fire scenes in the film burnt the bikes and also left injuries on his face and peeled off the skin on his gloved fingers during the shot. He plays that down. At least I lost my fear of fire after this film. Lets not dilute my work with ad films and feature films."

Zubinn Designs in Bandra has the unique distinctions of not having repeated a design. I pick up colours from anything and then create a new design of my own.

With 40,000 shades to almost every colour, one can weave magic.

If you have an idea, Ponnappa promises to colour it to match your lifestyle. I have modified Cruzers, which somehow has an affliation to be adorned with flames and skulls. I dont like the skull bit, but then that is its leitmotif, so to say. I loved doing Valentino Rossi designs and making a bike look like a McLaren F1.

So what does his bike look like Does it reflect his personality He stumps you with his answer, I dont have one now. Hmmm. Bikes dont excite him anymore No, no it does, he says smiling. But I am too busy trying to airbrush a car. I am working on a red Cadillac. Perhaps, time then to custom design one for himself.