How many stories can a single picture tell? Many, as it turns out. Three women photographers give us a glimpse into their lenses.
About 7,000 people live in the filth and squalor of Gulbhaitekra, a slum in the heart of Ahmedabad that has been nicknamed after the glitziest destination in the world Hollywood. The reason? The women who live here (mostly Bavris from Rajasthan), have a wild, rustic beauty reminiscent of top Hollywood stars. In June, 22-year-old photographer Kannagi Khanna embarked on a unique project, she printed out posters of top Hollywood actresses Keira Knightley, Angelina Jolie, Drew Barrymore and many more and photographed the slum women in the same, exact poses “It was exciting to find affinity between two entities that were geographically, socio-economically and culturally so far apart from each other!” she says. “The women themselves were eager, but it was the husbands who posed a problem! Also, I had to constantly remind them to look at the poses in the posters and not their clothes!” she smiles.
Anusha S Yadav
In Tune For Fame
When she was a child, 36-year-old photographer Anusha Yadav studied music. She participated in school competitions and even sang for Jaipur Television (she was brought up in the Pink City) and All India Radio. Those were the days when reality shows on Indian television didn’t exist. “I don’t care much for Indian reality shows that air today,” says Yadav who currently works from Mumbai. Still, there was something about the latest season of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs, Zee TV’s blockbuster singing talent show, that got her hooked. “I connected with these kids,” she says. Over a period of 10 days, Yadav went behind the scenes on the sets of the show and shot more than 2,000 pictures of the little contestants. “It was shocking to see how seriously the children and their parents took their careers even at that stage,” she says. Friendship, rivalry, peer pressure, affection, internal politics among parents... all come together in Yadav’s series. Was there an urban-rural divide on the sets? “The small towners looked up to the city people in some ways… the way they dressed, the way they talked. But ultimately, when you’re in a competition like this, your talent is all that matters,” she says.
Last year, Aparna Jayakumar spent a chilly winter evening clicking muscle at the Annual Zoroastrian Power-Lifting and Bodybuilding Championship in Mumbai. "Not many people know that the Parsis are great connoisseurs of the body," says the 27-year-old photographer who has always had an affinity for the Parsi community. She first saw an advertisement calling for bodybuilders in a Parsi newspaper and was intrigued. "The Parsis are a dwindling community and yet, here was this show of Parsi strength. The irony was striking," she says. The event was like a big party: there was everyone from young children to elderly women, loud music and crackling energy. "I think it was simply a way for a dwindling community to show its solidarity and togetherness," muses Jayakumar. "Or, I don’t know... maybe elderly Parsi women just like to look at muscular young men!"
From HT Brunch, October 2
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