Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Ah, 1993, I was 21 then (not that I mind being 37 now !). I suddenly remembered this Video and was lucky enough to find it on YouTube. Thank god, there's life beyond Indian Idol then ! 

This video is special to me, because it reminds me of a time when we had only 5 (yes, 5) satellite channels, all from the Star TV stable. One of the precious five was our very own MTV, or was it ? 'cause MTV was a different breed altogether, as compared to the one we have now, which specializes in "item numbers" from bollywood. MTV back then was real fun. US Top 20, European Top 20, Asian Top 20, VJ Nonny, VJ Danny McGill, and a lot more. No game shows, no reality nonsense, just pure unadulterated music, 24/7.

Oh, I'm deviating it seems. Errr..sorry. Coming to this video, this was an award-winning number by Indus Creed, who started their journey as Rock Machine, led by Uday Benegal. This video, actually inspired me to take up photography as a hobby, which I finally did some 15 years later

To be honest, this is just an average video, and I've seen many great ones in all these years. But this video has some frames, with which I can still associate my photographs, past present and future. It seems as if all the photographs that I'm yet to take, lie hidden in this video. 

A man of richer words could have explained better. Let me get back to the Shutter !

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Contrary to popular belief, I usually do not try and construct a story for my still life images. I choose to leave it to the viewers (if any) to do all the hard work, while I sit and play FarmVille ! However, on this particular instance, a friend of mine wanted to know about my thought process while clicking this picture. Much like my school days, I was left without an answer. But, in order to do some kind of justice to my friend's queries, I am trying to lay down a few probable interpretations. Very much an after-thought though....

  1. I had 5 books. I sold 4 to buy an Apple.
  2. I had 5 apples. I sold 4 to buy a Book.
  3. The Apple is Red. The Book is White. Hence the Apple is more important.
  4. The Apple is on top of the book. Hence Food is more important than Knowledge.
  5. I wanted to eat an Apple while reading a Book. The Book was boring, hence I quit.
  6. Eve ate an Apple, while Adam read a Book (where did we come from then ?)
  7. An Apple can be a good bookmark.
  8. If you drop an Apple and a Book from the tower of Pisa, the Book would land first.
  9. United we stand (the Apple), Divided we get laid (the Book).
  10. This photograph is open to more Interpretations.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Right folks, this is not about the Hunk getting down from his bike and telling you that "Thinking is such a waste of time" (some commercial). We all knew that already. That's exactly why we allowed Tusshar Kapoor to act, Romesh Pawar to field and Himmesh Reshamiya to sing....didn't we ?

The recent past has been kind enough to provide me with some free time to think, but I'll come to that later. When I was a young boy, many many moons ago, I used to think a lot. The inevitable happened. Once I tore a few pages off my Maths book, because I couldn't think enough to find a few answers. On another occasion, my swimming coach picked me up and threw me into the pool, because I was thinking for 20 minutes whether to get into the pool or not. As you can see, I've always been an avid thinker, if not a great one.

But now, I think I'm gradually reaching a stage where I feel my thoughts are going to make me famous, and hence - hated ! I'll explain why. Pardon me for always talking about photography, but if you're reading this, you may already know that I don't do much else (except those few ungodly hours at my office).

So, what did the last few days have in store for me, considering the fact that I managed to think a lot ? 

Well, for starters, I've now realized that over-hyped mediocrity (I'm being generous here !) is very much the order of the day.

Secondly, people who hated me already have some serious competition now. They were a half-baked lot anyway, and now to make things better, they are joined by the half-cooked. I am loving it !

Thirdly, I suddenly see some good pictures being taken. Are you kidding me ? Weren't you told that I am supposed to play the Numero Uno here ? How dare you ! Stop taking pictures, and start behaving like "photographers". I can even get you the Photographer's jackets at a bargain. Interested ?

Well, such "wonderful" realizations do come at a price, and that can be anything, overpriced coffee, underexposed portraits, just anything as long as its you who's paying :)...And I'm still loving it !

Monday, April 12, 2010

.....In Love, War and (inside) Monuments

The penultimate day of my trip to Delhi was my day of freedom, heat and photographs. I had a whole car (yes, the boot and the engine included) at my disposal, and even 50 packs of Gutkha...and a person to chew it all. Oh, he also drove the car I was riding in !

I started early. Well, 11 am is early enough if you wake up at 10.15 ! I told the man behind the wheels, henceforth to be referred to as "G" (for Gutkha) that I wanted to cover these places before sundown - Tughlaqabad, Humayun's Tomb, the Red Fort and Jantar Mantar. I left it to G to figure out the sequence.
First came Tughlaqabad. Oh, before that G needed to call 10 people to find out where it was. Only the last one knew, and so we arrived. Its not too often that you find a 4 lane road ploughing through a Fort, bisecting it perfectly. That makes the place interesting though, 'cause when you get down from the car and you're standing amongst honking vehicles, you see remains (ruins) of an ancient fort on both sides. I picked the one on the left to start with. I managed to buy the ticket only after I managed to find the guy who was supposed to sell it to me. The best part is that one ticket gets you an entry to both the sides., and the ticket costs 10 bucks only. No wonder the Ruins continue to be ruined. So, I started with the left.

 A long pathway led me to a flight of very steep stairs. I entered the Fort, and beyond the gate there was a striking sense of emptiness....

I treaded along, braving the beating sun. But after a while my backpack seemed too heavy. Its then that I decided to find a  place in the shade and I wanted a smoke badly. As I put my backpack down, and sat on a rock, I heard voices ! While I am certainly not the bravest man on earth, it was way too bright and sunny for ghosts, I was sure. So I looked around, and voila ! There they were..... Love Birds (in human form), inseparable, happily chatting away to glory. There were momentary pauses too, but let me not get into the details here ! I walked away from them, but here's a picture to show their location. They were somewhere here :

I had to walk "around" them, and cost me 15 more minutes to cover the area. This part was the bigger one, and it was like history crumbling right in front of your eyes, and it hurt. Yes, one cannot expect the entire Fort to stay the way it was built, after passing through time, but there can surely be better ways of seeing the area than walking through bushes, and loose rocks, at the risk of twisting your ankles. Over and above, carrying a big enough camera and a backpack can be quite cumbersome.

I continued, without really caring about the directions. After all, the place is nothing but a huge mess, and its upto you to chose your favourite part, and start clicking. Some samples :

After another 30 minutes in the intolerable sun, I realized that I have had enough of this part. Drained and exhausted, I traced my steps back to the entrance. I had the other half to cover, but I desperately needed more water. As I reached the entrance, I looked back. I thought of that brave couple who were already there before I arrived, and would probably be still there when I'm long gone. After all, everything's possible in Love, War and..... god knows what !

To be continued.............

Friday, April 9, 2010

Why I don't photograph people anymore

The Camera is a strange thing. Somehow, you tend to grow old twice as fast when you're behind it, as compared to when you're in front, or away from it altogether.

When I started taking photography seriously, I would go out on the streets and, like so many others, would try and capture people's faces, and expressions. But after a while, I discovered that I don't enjoy doing that. It's completely personal guys, I have nothing against taking pictures of people in distress. But I have a small question. Why is it that people start their photographic adventures with photographing people on the streets ? And why is it that they always choose people in distress as their subjects ? Just because they are too poor to object ?
Well, I may end up losing a few friends by writing what I'm writing, but the fact remains. Somebody please go and photograph a man who is stuck behind the wheels in traffic, or a college student who is waiting at the bus stop. Better still, tell me the story behind each and every portrait you click. Portraits of poor people I mean, because that's all you can manage. 

Do not expect me to comment on such "Portraits", duly termed "Life" or "Struggle" or "Good Morning" or whatever. You people are taking the easy way out. I also made this mistake when I started. If people are so fond of Street Portraits, I would love to see a series from someone about one such person, and an hour or a couple of hours in his/her life, or a day if you can manage. I would be eagerly waiting, you photographers !

Monday, April 5, 2010

Scribbled on a cold silent night - 27.3.2010

Had to beat the sun ! Barely made it, and we drove out of delhi in no time. On the way, the sun lazed out of the slumber. Crossed Ghaziabad, and on to Meerut. An interesting mix of Bullock carts, good looking girls riding Scooty’s, grumpy uncles driving to office, and others crossing the road at leisure. If you haven’t hit a couple of them, you’ve been slow ! Meerut left behind, and past Bijnor. The road got strikingly beautiful here. Smooth as silk and dry leaves scattered all over. Beautiful sight indeed. We arrived in Kotdwar, and finally we got to see the mountains in the horizon.

From Kotdwar, its an upward climb. The usual mountain roads. The Garhwal Himalayas look dry and dusty at this time of the year. An hour and a half later we were in Lansdowne (spelt “Lensdowne” on several of the boards on the way).

We had booked cottages in some “Jungle Resort”, which apparently none of the locals knew about ! We spent another 30 mins trying to find the way to the hotel. We asked 4 locals, and were sent packing in different directions. Finally, my phone managed to grab some odd network from somewhere, and I could call the “Resort” and get the directions.

Not a bad place at all. Quiet, serene, and not crowded. But to reach this place, you will need to drive through the most terrifying terrain ! A narrow winding path, dusty and very scary, and stretches 3 kms ! Finally, when you get to see the Entrance to this place, you’re a very happy man !

Rice, Dal and Kadhai Paneer for lunch, and we were off scouting the nearby area for some photo opportunities. We finally located a “sunset point”. This place is on the edge of a cliff. A nice place where you have a place to sit, and look around. Tall Pine trees all around, and its as peaceful as heaven. Not a sound to be heard, except the wind hurling through the Pine trees. Close your eyes, and you could imagine yourself sitting on a beach and hearing the waves break, forever. I sat there, alone for a while. It felt strange, and I missed my daughter, wanted her to be in my arms, and let the breeze gently brush her cheeks.

Got some interesting shots as I made my way down the slope to another vantage point, some 10 feet below. Interesting patterns, and silhouettes. The sun began to set and some more shots were taken.

KKR vs Kinds XI Punjab in the evening (IPL somehow manages to show up on all my posts). As I am writing this, KKR is playing some good test match cricket ! A nice dinner on the cards, have ordered Kadhai Chicken, Dal and Rice…Hmmmmm ! Will be starting for delhi tomorrow post lunch. A nice break on the whole. But I’m missing a lot of things here, and that includes the mobile phone network, and the Internet (seriously kidding !).