The word is verve, an apt title for first-of-its-kind calendar featuring 12 para-athletes. It defines the vigour and spirit they exhibit through their lives filled with struggles.
An NGO Civilian Welfare Foundation (CWF) has taken an initiative to document the exemplary performances of these para-atheletes in this calendar. Abhirupa Kar, president, CWF explains, “We’ve started working at the local level but there’s still alot to be done for many Indian sportspersons to be recognised at the international level. Like last year, many of them could have qualified for Rio paralympics but since they hadn’t participated in any international game before they couldn’t represent India as per the rules.”
The January page features Ujjwal Ghosh, a national medallist in Javelin throw and the October page has Harilal Tudu, a master’s student in History and a National medallist in long jump.
The calendar tries to connect the global with the local and cause a ripple effect. In its 2017 edition, the undying vigour and spirit of 12 para-athletes from Bengal has been captured. The manner in which it is done exhibits their indomitable spirit. “We thought there was no point in showing their disability. We wanted to present how amazing these sportspersons are as individuals who have overcome all odds, regardless of their age and type of their disability,” says Archan Mukherjee, one of the three photographers, who have shot the pictures for this calendar.
Mukherjee adds that the concept for the calendar came up when they realised that these athletes were not just sportspersons but larger-than-life individuals. “That’s why we decided to not just capture their portraits through our photography but their entire personality, along with the sport that they play. For instance, in the month of April, we have featured Sandhya Mondal. She is an ace swimmer who has won medals in the National Swimming Competitions under the Paralympic Sports Category S7 and has a lower limb disability. We made it a point to photograph her entire body as she goes under water.” The other two photographers are Sourav Chakraborty and Souvik Banerjee.
One of the para-athletes, Saheb Hussain, who is featured in the calendar’s July month, says, “We have been playing for our state and our country, yet haven’t received much financial support from any of the governments. I’m now preparing for the next Asian Games and being photographed for this calendar makes me feel happy to have got at least some recognition.”