Once upon a street in Mumbai

Once upon a street in Mumbai

Once upon a street  in Mumbai

A full-length novel on Mumbai will probably not describe the city as effectively as Kaushal Parikh’s street photographs. You cannot see these photographs and not marvel at the story inherent in each of them – of iconic buildings, slums, the rich and the poor and basically, life in Mumbai. Whether you have been to the maximum city or not, we strictly recommend a trip to the Oxford Bookstore, CP which is showcasing these photographs under the title ‘Bombay Bylines.’

It naturally comes as a shock when Kaushal tells you that he was a full-time banker till six years back with no academic knowledge of photography. It was only a hobby till it became his calling.

He says, “A decade of professional life into finance, I realised it was choking me. There was lots of money, job security etc., but no creative outlet. It took some courage for me to finally declare it to my wife that I was quitting banking to become a lensman; but once I did it, things rolled out on their own.”

Kaushal hit the streets of Mumbai. He says, “It was the easiest thing to do. Just take a camera, a good pair of shoes and start shooting whatever you see.” Also, the nascent photographer did some research on the subject and realised that he loved the work of Henri Cartier Bresson and Raghu Rai. “Their street photographs were real and honest. They captured life in a city – both the beautiful and ugly aspects of it – but with sensitivity. I was inspired.”

Soon, the whole of Mumbai became Kaushal’s beat. He would walk from Cuff Parade (South Mumbai) to Shivaji Park (Central Mumbai) every day, shooting whatever struck him as interesting. The Gateway of India, Nariman Point and the Juhu beach became his favourite haunts; though, he soon discovered the peculiarities of slums, the backalleys of Mumbai, as well. An assortment of pictures, defining Mumbai, emerged.

On a summer afternoon, in the middle of a busy street, a baby sleeps on a cot hung from metal sidewalks. A fisherman is weighing fishes on a scale; two cats are waiting in a corner to get some spoils. A dog is sleeping on a bench in a park; a man is resting on the ground just next to him. A crowd of boys is trying to reach the hung matki on janmashtmi but you can barely make it out thanks to his intersting blurring of the scene. These and more form a part of Bombay Bylines.

Kaushal says, “Street photography may be the most accessible genre of photography, but it is the toughest. It is easy to shoot the Himalayas and come back with the most stunning pictures but it requires far more intelligence to compose the right photographs in the middle of a crowded city. The photograph has to tell a story, connect with the viewer as well as be shot from the right angle; and yet it must be neat, totally uncluttered.”

He continues: “Many people take pictures of landscapes and wildlife but few are aware of street photography. I keep holding workshops on this kind of picture taking and have also formed a group called ‘That’s life’ – a street photographers’ collective. I am hopeful that soon we will have more people taking street shots and street
photography in India will come into its own.”

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