Review by Amrita Varma
March 15, 2015


Bajaatey Raho
Curated by Aditya Arya
March 13-16, 2015
India International Center, New Delhi 

The India International Center Art Gallery was abuzz with an interesting exhibition on photography. The exhibition of the works of the six finalists of the Neel Dongre Awards was curated on the theme of the bandwallas this year and had a great degree of seriousness to it which I was pleasantly surprised by. 

While documentary photography is not unusual and perhaps a tad bit over exposed in India, the awards were interesting in that they were, in this area, looking at pushing the selected emerging talent to the forefront in the visual detail of the photographers individual styles and narrative. That too on a narrow budget!

It was refreshing to see a show that had some semblance of curatorial quality though one could have done with lesser images to bring out the essence of the artist’s perspectives and worldview and future directions of style.

There were a few images that definitely stood out holding promise of the growth of the next generation of photography that would be both conceptual and documentary and had the ability to push the edges of what we visualize as the image. Very heartening indeed.

One was particularly impressed with Raj Lawani, Sujata Khanna and Nirvair Singh Rai’s rendition of the bandwalla. While Nirvair’s uncanny style of looking at life of the bandwalla has a sense of the everyday and looks at the patterns within the visual composition, Raj has a sense of vocalizing the sensual and physiological nuances of the environs within the image. Sujata’s lens is intrigueing in its capture of the otherwise missed out visual information and core details which bring semantic layering to the image and help it come alive. In all three, one sees the integration of the conceptual with the documentary to create a new narrative.

Sujatro Ghosh’s work has a more satirical take to life, which is something one would like to delve deeper into. The works had a muted look collectively with the more usual imagery showcased except for two images that showed bright promise and the satirical style could have been given more of a push. Richa Bhavanam’s work has a refreshing quality to it though one would like to see her step out of her comfort zone to add dimensions to her imagery.

Vinit Gupta has interesting character sketches of the life of the bandwalla in the faces he exposes through his works. The body and the movement of these characters seem to work as an aide to reflect the going ons in the facial lines and scars on the portraiture of each bandwalla which is interesting.One would like to see his compositions become tighter in context discarding excess visual information eventually.

In playing a vital part as an exhibition of selecting and showcasing future talent, this show was a positive in the creative dimensions of the Art industry where photography as a medium is in need of more exposure.