Mumbai Photo Journalist launches book

By our reporter

 SHILLONG: Mumbai based photographer Chirodeep Chaudhuri, who recently launched his photo-journal, ‘A Village in Bengal’ at Shillong on the second day of CALM fest is motivated to revisit and spend more time with enthusiastic students he met in the event.

Journalist turned photographer Chaudhari says, “One could sense that such opportunities here are limited and students were looking forward to it. I teach young photographers so I know that questions about the camera, technicalities, aperture etc. are to break the ice, it builds over time. I would love to come back and do workshops here.”

His previous visit to the hill city wasn’t as exciting as this one. He shares, “When I came here 11 years ago, I didn’t like the city much as there was no opportunity for personal interaction. If one comes as a tourist or even for an assignment and doesn’t get to interact, the interest level is limited. This time I really enjoyed meeting and getting to know people.”

Interestingly it was also the chord he struck with his family in Kolkata that made him capture Durga Puja celebrations in his ancestral village, Amadhpur, over twelve successive years.

‘A Village in Bengal’ is his solo book and also a shift from his previous works that have largely been Bombay centric with collections such as Bombay clocks, City by the Sea, Mumbai’s Suburban Train Graffiti and more.

Chaudhuri says, “Initially it was pure fascination, everything about the place seemed seriously exotic but overtime I got comfortable with the village and my family there. Had it not been for the equation I formed with them, it wouldn’t have held my interest for so long.”

Compiling the photographs into a book was not planned; in fact he admits that he was clueless about how to work on it. Realising that the village had to more offer than just the Durga Puja, created the need to tell a story and sparked the idea of a book.

“When you’re just four years into the profession, the thought of a book is intimidating. You don’t have the audacity to think of it. But I felt that just one story was not enough for all the excitement of the place and the process of education through books and cinema became necessary over the next 10-11 years,” says Chaudhuri.

He may be among the few photographers who will admit that photographs don’t always speak for themselves. He says, “The phrase, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ is one of the biggest humbugs one can come across.”

“People can like pictures alone for their aesthetic value but without a context, they will not be able to appreciate their meaning. So my main target audience was my family there and the villagers.”

This considers the brief interlude with Shillong as a teaser and believes that it could be a starting point to explore in terms of photography and interest him further into exploring the rest of the state and north east.

“The book form would interest me more because it would allow for a deeper engagement with the place.”

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