The streets of Kolkata have intrigued me for decades, enticing me with all the ingredients of drama and intrigue. I have an equal penchant for the rain, and have, at times, played with the nuances of a shower with my camera. There were stray instances, more due to requests, that I did portraits too. But deep inside, there was a seed growing which would redefine the way a portrait and a shower would come together. This seed demanded an insane amount of patience and fortune, as the picture that I drew inside was something extraordinary. This seed would only germinate under the perfect weather, when the perfect person matching my crazy would come across.
So, when the skies loomed with a threat this season, all I saw was an opportunity. Three ladies, with all the passion and love for the rains manifested in my life at the same time, as if the heavens were in cahoots with fate to hand me a winner.
As the monsoon came and receded, it was a dance with lady luck with neither of us showing our cards. I shot in front of the clouds, and on the holy waters of the Ganges on the ghats of Kumartuli area of north Kolkata, India. At times the shots were taken under heavy showers and even during thunderstorms. The ladies I shot were invested one hundred percent, as they did not hesitate to submerge, drench and dunk in the waters, both from above and under. I had my terms laid rigidly- that my subject would be the monsoon, and that it didn’t matter if they looked good or not. None complained, and gave me a bounty of fantastic shots.
The next part was what mattered most. There was perhaps no record of any photographer exhibiting his work on the very location where they were shot especially on a ghat. It was unheard of, and even more unthinkable under the monsoon clouds of Kolkata. That was my challenge to myself. Perhaps, such a feat had not ever been attempted before, as far my knowledge goes.
Therefore, one cloudy evening in Kolkata, on the very steps of the ghat where I shot the series, thirty-three canvasses were put up on easels, facing the mighty Ganges. A photo book containing the very photographs as were exhibited, was released on the occasion. The event was accentuated by the appearance of the gifted members of the famous musical group Chandrabindoo, who lend a tangy flavour to the evening with their words and music. The band had never been to such a set where spontaneity was the order of the day. It was an evening of romance, with the rains just holding their pour for the skies to peek at my works.
About Siddhartha Paul
Siddhartha’s journey has by no means been smooth or easy, he is a common man with a routine job, who has struggled in his domestic life. What had begun as only the documentation of his avid traveling and wanderlust, underwent many twists of life and fate to become the apex of the street genre it is today.
Diagnosed with severe eyesight issues and suspected eye cancer, almost put an end to his passion for photography leaving him physically and mentally broken, with no clear path to move ahead, this deep thinking and sensitive man, did not stop embracing life with whatever little he had. Being forbidden to get out in the bright sun, he continued to take pictures from within his room and in the evening. He fell in love with the old charms of the city anew. He fell in love with something so many of us take for granted, his eyesight.
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All the pictures in this post are copyrighted to Siddhartha Paul. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.