A collage of MEMORIES

A collage of MEMORIES
A collage of MEMORIES

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


                                           ONE  DAY AROUND KUMORTULI-BAGBAZAR

                         Photography , something I started when I was in my school final years, I took it seriously since 11th standard. And since then there was no turning back, not even when my parents were against it, not even when my mom used to hide it inside the safety locker of her cupboard, not even when I did not have a good camera (only a Canon PowerShot A3300 IS, I had) and the picture quality was really very very poor, no matter how splendid moment I captured...The devotion, the passion was gradually paying back as my pictures started getting acknowledgement, publishing in renowned Magazines. Well, the first published work came out when I was in my 12th and it was no doubt a great thing for me. Now after all these years, my parents are very much approving, one of the best support for me! Around 8 published works are not so bad after all for a starter, what say? ;)

                     So, here I go...on the 10th August this year, I got a event invitation on Facebook from a magazine where I contribute now regularly. Due to some turmoil in life and health, I was not so keen initially. But then my best support-friend-mentor Sumit Chakraborty insisted that I should go and so in a double state of mind I decided to board the train to Sealdah with him, trying to get composure and interest in the photowalk, and also to divert my mind. So here I give the route map of the place which were to be covered in the photowalk. In this context I would give you a brief info about Kumortuli. Located in Northern Kolkata, this is the place renowned for Idol-making. From here the idols are sent not just in and around Kolkata, but to outer states and abroad. Who does not know about the Durga Puja , the most important festival of the Bengalees?

                        So we got down at Shobhabazar Metro station and waited for other members to turn up (me and Sumit had turned up around one hour before!). The event was organised by Travel Chhuti , a monthly magazine. It was the first photowalk organised by TravelChhuti.

                       It was a humid day, the Sun with its usual heat! My interest as well as energy was a bit up but not high! So here we started with around 29 members at around 2:45pm whereas we were to start around 1:45pm. We were given ID cards to hang around neck, with which we could enter and explore any place inside Kumortuli we want. I found Arijit, a media-helper of the magazine , a good friend of mine and we were on free moods immediately. 

                       Entering kumortuli, the admins of the magazine took coupons for all of us, so that we could click photos free of cost! (Surprised? Just imagine the huge popularity of Kumortuli, that people now have to cut coupons to click pictures or to roam about). The above was my first shot while entering the village of the idol makers. There some artists were drying these idols with burners.

                      Along with Sumit, I started exploring the narrowest lanes of West bengal (at least I thought so! I cannot imagine narrower lanes than that of Kumortuli). On each sides of the lane, there you can see either  idol makers' small huts (read studios!) along with their living space behind or upside, supported by bamboo. At that time one can understand the strange life of these unfortunate idol makers who after the strenuous crafting works, earn meager. The houses were so congested with each other that I had to imagine how they could live there...The drainage system is so poor, here and there you can see garbage, leftover food...Walking a midst of them, that too along the narrow lane was an opportunity to think about their lives in these lanes. The children looked at us with curious eyes, the elders however made no reaction, no wonder they see such photographers almost everyday.

                           The above three pictures were taken in front of a studio where this middle aged man, very jovial and photogenic were happy to see both of us clicking pictures of him. Some another artist passed by commenting, froom which I could make out that a number of photographers from news channels as well as freelancers had came before and clicked his picture. But his face had no such pride, rather he was so interested to pose, he answered nicely to the questions Sumit asked him while trying to capture some beautiful expression. Sumit is talented in this work no doubt, after all he's in photography for around 20 years!

                       We headed forward, Sumit had entered a studio where an aged uncle were carving white plaster of paris and marble statues to give them perfect look. I also entered, but decided to come out to give him and Sumit some free space to talk while clicking pictures. I saw this boy working on this Ganesha idol with rapt attention in the studio, another side of the lane. 

                         This boy was working alone inside this small studio, surrounded by idol-heads, wet clay and half-made idols. The surroundings would give a nice background to our pictures, so we sat in front of the hut. Sumit asked him some questions such as whether he worked alone, how much time it took, what he does in rain etc etc. He answered some, with unusual halts, seemed that either he was too engrossed in his work or he was not happy with us visiting his studio. Even I asked some questions as per Sumit had suggested but same result.. So we came out after taking some shots. Some photographers we did not recognise, immediately entered afterwards, started taking pictured almost lying on the soil! We roamed about beside and then again entered after they were finished, Sumit again asked some normal questions but it seemed that he did not hear. Then only we understood that the poor boy had some problem with hearing as well as talking. It was saddening. 


                         Have you seen the glittering ornaments of the idols? Well, this is how those are made (see the first picture above). The next one was clicked just after coming out of the hut of that poor boy. Here you can see the dingy lanes of Kumortuli, the studios built right on the lane. Imagine how they manage while it rains suddenly...They have plastic coverings beside, but the rain would already drench these clay idols..

                            Kumortuli is not only famous among the Bengalees or the non-bengalees living in West Bengal but all over the world. These foreigners had came to visit the pristine heritages in and around Kolkata, and turned up here at Kumortuli. I passed them, but Sumit insisted that I take some portraits, no matter how much I say that Portrait is not my forte. Well, these pictures made me reconsider my thoughts!! Some said, she looked imposting, some said I was supporting the fact that smoking is not injurious and the list goes on...But what do I care? I know these pictures meant neither of them, rather it was just my effort to capture some expressions turning them into portraits. She looked nice and photogenic, so I took pictures. It does not mean I have an huge attraction towards western culture, smoking and all! 

               Sumit had clicked this picture of mine while clicking the pictures of the young lady! 

                    And this is Sumit, I clicked this one when he was checking his shots (otherwise he seldom agrees to give a pose!)

                        It was my last shot while coming out of Kumortuli...This old lady sat in a Paan-stall and looked photogenic... See? I don't capture just foreigner beauties..huh!

Our next destination was Bagbazar Ghat . We sat on the ghat staircases waiting for all to turn up, then we were served hot Singara (samosa). We all talked about the experience of the photowalk, the next photowalk, the goals of the magazine, upcoming contests and all..It was the end of the day, the Sun setting over the horizon of the river, the launches passing by..A great scene to behold.

                        The aarti started at 6pm, and we sat on the staircases to capture these wonderful moments. The air was filled with intoxicating aroma of the amber incense sticks and the diyaas. The two pandits started their aarti , devoted to the river Ganga. It was tough to capture the pictures while the subjects were in motion, that too in night. I took the pictures in light mood so that the pictures come out bright, I pressed shutter continuously so that I be able to capture atleast some good moments. In utter surprise I found that some of the pictures came out really satisfying!

                      So this was the end of our photowalk, we bid adieu to the members and headed to the Bagbazar station to catch the train..exhausted but happy, this was the day well spent. Both of us enjoyed a lot after so many days without much active photography.