Today in New Delhi, India
Dec 13, 2018-Thursday
New Delhi
  • Humidity
  • Wind

Bihar journey to dry state through lens

A lensman captures life pre and post-prohibition in Bihar.

patna Updated: Apr 05, 2017 06:59 IST
Ganesh Upadhyay
Ganesh Upadhyay
Hindustan Times, Patna
Prohibition,photo exhibition,Abhishek Kumar
The photo exhibition entitled ‘Then and Now’ juxtapose life before and after prohibition in Bihar. (HT photo)

Vibha Charanpahari’s black and white picture drew quite a few eyeballs at the three-day Bihar Diwas at Gandhi Maidan.

It’s the first one, right in your gaze, as you enter the exhibition of pictures. It depicts a woman holding a wine bottle in her hand and dancing her way to the stars at a New Year party, exactly a year ago.

Today, Vibha chuckles at the mention and points to a sea change in her personal life and among those around.

Abhishek Kumar (HT photo)

“I am happy and thankful to the chief minister for imposing the ban. Now I am involved in spreading awareness and conducting workshops and seminar supporting the alcohol ban”, she says over phone.

And why not? She has been to the exhibition and revelled in the exhibits entitled ‘Then and Now’, which juxtapose her life ‘then’ and ‘now’. “Aren’t they creating a positive impression of the change wrought in the minds of people of Bihar in the last one year?” she asks coyly.

Women activists (left) demanding ban on liquor before April 2016 and police seize liquor during a post-prohibition raid in Patna.

Hindustan Times Group’s photographer, Abhishek Kumar has more than turned heads at the ground, with his uncanny ability to contrast the mood pre-April 2016, and a year onwards. The theme of course is prohibition, the slides cutting through a slice of Bihar history in the year gone by.

Activists stage a dharna demanding ban on liquor and women celebrating post-prohibition.

The lensman’s eye has caught the details as it captures the agitations, the support jousts, the public mind exercised over the issue of a booze ban and the restlessness of the time.

If there are pictures of pro-prohibition protest marches by women of Patna, the campaign is brought out in bold, with the subjects seemingly vocal and intent. The black and white pictures stand out amid a riot of colour frames, offering a shade and light combine, which rivets.

People who used to trade in liquor now see vegetables.

“This is my third exhibition at the Bihar Diwas pavilion and the focus here is on depicting the positive impact of total prohibition as well as contrasts of pre-prohibition days with after ban days. They are all published photographs, rearranged in swap history form to bring out a sense of achievement that Bihar witnesses,” said Abhishek.

Abhishek has had this ability to look for ‘different’ and ‘outstanding’ photographs, which he had proved through his exhibits on ‘Bihar ki Betiyaan’ and ‘Badhta Bihar’ themes. The difference, this time, shows that he has arrived.

“I feel exhilarated. The response has been kind to endearing and overwhelming.. Many identified with the slides; some actually relived their old times with the bottle and spoke of the change. My objective has been realised”, said Abhishek. The sentiments show in the two visitors book, now spilling over with comments.

The 13 slides portray elite and Mahadalit life in a series of contrasts - talk of wine shops and its environs littered with after drink waste - polyethylene pouches, plastic covers of mixtures and bones of a chicken devoured and cases of upmarket soft drink and mineral water bottles lying around.

An advisory (left) not to mix liquor with driving and (right) schoolchildren form a human chain to support prohibition.

Moni Devi and Archana Devi of Danapur, who are part of a women’s group, which anchored the pro-prohibition drive -Mahila Brigade - said, “After years of protests and being hauled into jails several times for barricading liquor shops, we are leading a much more peaceful time within homes and outside today. Chief minister Nitishji heeded our request. That has saved us enough money to dream of putting our two daughters through a quality Kendriya Vidyalaya”, said Archana.

Another young woman, who visited the stall, recalled: “We lived in a joint family in Chitkohra area and there were no moments free of quarrel. My father, grandfather, maternal grandfather, brothers, mother and grandmother, all used to take country liquor and pick fights with pedestrians and neighbours. Now we are happy, thanks to prohibition”. She wished not to be identified.

Abhishek has captured such moods and the mystic is unravelled in the ‘lost versus happy’ frames, which stand out with the message, “Liquor could kill that laughter”.

First Published: Mar 26, 2017 13:18 IST