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Indian idols

art and culture Updated: May 15, 2010 00:35 IST
Paramita Ghosh
Paramita Ghosh
Hindustan Times
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Photographer Mahesh Bhat’s idea for his project, ‘Unsung’, began from home. He had lost his niece to TV; she had become a fan.

"Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, were her idols. The media was full of them and there was no escaping it…Sachin Tendulkar is a great guy and I have nothing against film-stars and cricketers, but I thought, there should be other heroes as well."

Bhat’s first Unsung book was published in 2007. He hopes to bring out the second one by early next year.

Forty-three-year-old Bhat, whose range of photography assignments has ranged from a story on a female suicide bomber of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to advertising photography for software companies, decided to approach corporates to fund his project — a book on the unsung heroes of India. “I was able to pre-sell 2,900 copies. The book took more than four years to complete and was self-published in October 2007. It has helped raise over Rs 65 lakh for the causes of the people featured in it”, says the Bangalore-based photographer.

His India assignments, at times, make him restless. It’s the old crib — money. Technology has helped though. The European magazine, Marie Claire, found him. Due to his website, Getty images did as well. “Each time, any MC edition runs the LTTE story, I get paid. Next month, the Czech edition is picking up the story. In India, unfortunately, the copyright does not belong to the photographer." the 90s Bhat started Light, a magazine — now deceased — that he felt, "could be a starting point to talk about visual thinking. At the time, all that people talked about was cameras…" He is still looking for support.