Myriad moods and tones of India

In frames

Myriad moods and tones of India

Having resided in cosmopolitan cities, we tend to forget what the ‘real India’ looks like - colourful, festive, riverside life, traditional women, jogis and fakirs. To all those who have not visited the countryside in a long time, a recent photography exhibition at the Hungarian Cultural Centre – Eyes That Capture – served as a nice reminder of what we have been missing.

Melinda Ruck, Borbala Szij, Katerina Svitilova and Ibolya Jeszenszky - four women of Hungarian origin – arrived in India at different points of time, but by a quirk of fate they met each other and discovered their passion for picture taking. After that began at least half-a-dozen journeys across India recording their discoveries in their cameras. Following the common theme of ‘exotic India’, the pictures soon crystallised into ‘Eyes That Capture’.

A chirpy Ibolya informs Metrolife, “Destiny brought us to India on different pretexts. My husband, an engineer, had just bagged a job in Delhi. Katerina’s family moved to Delhi soon after. We ran into each other at a party and our cameras formed our common interest. When the four of us came together, only Melinda had prior experience in photography, and seeing our interest in the same, she directed us to a photography school here.”

“Soon after, we started going on photography trips to places like Amritsar, Banaras, Pushkar and Pondicherry. This is where we encountered the unusual beauty of India. Its people, rituals, women – conservative and yet bold, the architecture – ornate and majestic. India absorbed us completely and we just went click, click and click. Some recent incidents also inspired us.

Being women ourselves, the December 16 gangrape was one of them.”

This is amply evident in pictures taken by Borbala Szij. A graffiti she photographed in Pondicherry depicts a woman in a ghagra-choli carrying several matkas. A line next to her says, “Respect women. Women is life (sic).” Another shot by her shows women sitting in a row on a Pondicherry beachside. They all have their backs to the camera flaunting hair adorned with gajras. Her shots of women in Jaipur, sporting bright colourful clothes, are also worth seeing.

Ibolya, on the other hand, has taken portraits. There are fakirs – a striking one at Nizamuddin titled ‘Ali Baba,’ sadhus – an interesting one at Barsana where a jogi has been doused in pink gulal during Holi, Nihals of Punjab – in all their valour and glory, and ordinary Indians waiting at bus stops, tea stalls, a road side or their door step.

Melinda’s photographs of the sandhya-arti at Hardwar are breathtaking. It is indeed a feat to shoot in evening light with the crowds and holy smoke that engulf Hardwar at that time. Lastly, Katerina’s shots of seasons in India – close-ups of various fruits hanging on trees – are also thought-provoking. One could safely say ‘Eyes that capture’ is a photographic discovery of India.  

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