Some time ago I met up with Ashish Chawla , an absolutely wonderful person and a brilliant Indian photographer. While we spoke about various aspects of the business of photography, I happened to ask him of a thought, that had been bothering me or should I say kind of left me wondering very often.
My profession allows me to be constantly surrounded by photographs and I get to curate a lot of photography work. A world of artists. A world of dreamers. A world of those who look for beauty even in the mundane.
However what bothers me is that, unfortunately, I get to see a lot less of original & exceptional work. Barring a few 1000 odd photographers, in a population of 1.2 billion in India, most images are very average or below.
And I am not just pointing out to commercial assignments since those depend on various factors, such as creative brief or production values.While we reflected, Ashish pointed out something that has stayed with me ever since. I want to share it as an anecdote, as there is something we all can do about it. Only, if we become aware of it.
He said, ” Sugandha, what is it that we encounter when we step out of our homes ? What do our eyes frame when we drive to our work place or go to the grocers ? What do we see when we try to take a walk to the closest community park ? And back ? What do we see when we stand in our balconies ? .. Daily lives ? Everyday.
This is not that inspires an artist.
This is ugly. It’s dusty and polluted.
It is the broken and soiled sidewalks. It is people defacing the walls, mutilating the public property, and their surrounding areas.
It is a lot of unpleasant frames.
So much so that we don’t even notice that we see them everyday. We have become immune to them. This is not what inspires an artist ! “
” Why do you think a lot of us take off once in a while to the hills, seaside or the forests? Why do we all get so energised feel renewed ? “.. and so on..
..and while we continued to discuss further on the same, much longer .. that thought has stayed with me.
It saddens me to see my nation defaced.
Poor. Neglected. Uncared. Ugly. Plastic bottles. Garbage. Broken walls. The banged up public transport. The mutilated buildings. The incomplete and ugly construction sites. The underfed cattle left to fend on their own on city streets. The open drains and gutter. The flies on food that poor people are oblivious to and consume.
It saddens me to see anger and uncouthness amongst us.
The lack of sensitivity. It bothers me.
It bothers me that we look away, almost pretend that it does not exist.
We have such a beautiful cultural heritage. We have such a rich history. We are fortunate.
I would like to post a video narrated by Raj Thackeray ( originally in marathi, with subtitles in english ) where he cites example of Maharashtra (India state the capital of which is Mumbai / Bombay ) . This is truly applicable to entire India. I believe. I support.
Hats off my dear artists, photographers & cinematographers . You motivate yourselves and try to find reasons to inspire. We have a responsibility towards you. A responsibility to inspire you and give you a Aesthetically Beautiful India.
( These are my personal views and discussions. Please feel free to share or comment if you agree or disagree. However if you are a magazine or publication ( online or offline) please contact me for re-publishing permissions. )