It isn’t the first exhibition positioned as a tribute to Satyajit Ray’s directorial debut, Pather Panchali, but the work of photojournalist Dilip Banerjee circumvents clichés through his unique interpretation of the masterpiece.
Titled Song of the Road, the exhibition is a conglomerate of several songs or compelling poetic narratives that Banerjee captured on his camera in 30 years of being a photojournalist.
“Pather Panchali signifies a journey, one which features people, their struggles and myriad emotions such as love, desire, grief, hope and fear,” said Banerjee, who has served with several reputed national publications and freelances now.
As a photographer, Banerjee complies with the Bressonian school of thought. The bulk of the images are from an India in transition, which he depicts without straying from focusing on the have-nots. Banerjee delights in intense, defiant expressions.
One of the frames features female sannyasins in Mathura, cloaked in dusty white garbs. “They looked like small pelicans. I followed them closely in a car but failed to distract them. All I wanted was one of them to look back and acknowledge me for it to make a perfect picture and it happened,” said Banerjee.
Banerjee’s penchant for contrasts comes through in an image of a Rajasthani musician bearing his string instrument on a shoulder juxtaposed with the image of a young Afghan brazenly bearing a rocket missile on his.
As a news photographer who spent a good amount of time documenting the North East insurgency and the conflict raging in Afghanistan, Banerjee hasn’t shied from portraying the political either.
After travelling with Song of the Road, Banerjee intends on working on two books — one on his experiences during the insurgency and the other on his travels through the Stilwell Road, a 144-km passage through Assam, China and Myanmar constructed during World War II to convey war supplies.
(Song of the Road will be on display until May 10 at the Piramal Gallery, NCPA)