To Grandpa ...with love

To Grandpa ...with love

A dark hallway, illuminated black and pictures settled steadily through strings on a wall and a lingering sound was enough to tug Metrolife into what was stated as a photo exhibition at India International Centre, recently. A melody enwraps you as you go through the images exhibited for “95 Mani Villa”, a dedication by Zishaan Akbar Latif to his grandfather who passed away a year ago on December 7.

“My music is a temple; within its walls I find a place to meet with God and leave the world behind” as this image flicks through the audio-visual, guiding the viewer cinematically through the daily routine of Zishaan’s grandfather, at 95 Mani Villa in Jhansi, it comes across as a quintessential reflection of his life.

It is exactly what a viewer carries back with him, an indelible imprint of a life well-lived; music that pervades the mind and becomes a symbolic sound for Mani Villa and the picture of ‘Mani’, Zishaan’s grandmother who makes a lingering appearance through a single image of her picture dotting across the photo-essay and audio-visual without ever being really present in those frames.

“A smaller edit of this photo exhibition was a part of the first Delhi Photo Festival 2011 where Prashant Panjiar was helping us to edit it,” quips Zishaan, walking us through his photo exhibition at IIC. “This show is the end, the full circle, a goodbye, it’s a tribute to my grandfather. Seventh of December 2012 was when he passed away, it’s about reliving those moments. This show commemorates my grandfather’s life.”

There are diptychs, triptychs and contact sheets to bring to life some forty plus frames caught on film where Zishaan has captured his grandfather’s life, his last few birthdays’, family get togethers over tea and the palatial 95 Mani Villa in Jhansi with his grandfather’s constant companion, Gallant, his dog. 

In these pictures, Zishaan makes a strange appearance through the notes his grandfather writes to him. Their bonding aptly portrayed through the short notes on envelopes which he says are a part of Parsi tradition where children are given one rupee coins or money whenever they leave house.

Amit Mehra, the curator of the show says, “We have deliberately put up pictures in a dark room, illuminated only through the light inside the boxes (frames) so as to block out the vision of a viewer and make him delve into the life of Zishaan’s grandfather on an intimate level.” Their effort is quite palpable as you cannot walk out of the hallway, without thinking about your own loved ones. In the last frame that depicts Gallant with an empty chair and harmonium; one senses a conspicuous loss of one’s own loved one.

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