Thursday, July 18, 2024

Illustrating stories through his cinematic vision

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In an exclusive conversation with The Pioneer, Art filmmaker and lensman Dr.Vajranabh Natraaj Maharshi discusses his upcoming show, work, hardships, and idea behind exhibiting work to art enthusiasts.

Shikha Duggal

In 2019, Art filmmaker and lensman Vajranabh Natraaj Maharshi hit a new high with his solo exhibition ‘Fourth Eye’, which was inaugurated by Oscar winner Tim McGovern. The Oscar winner stated in a video that Natraaj’s ability to capture the soul of the subjects is a quality that he admires the most. Now, Natrraaj is back on the art scene with another solo photo exhibition titled ‘Conflict’, which is going to be put on display from January 6 to January 12 at the State Art Gallery, Hyderabad.

In this exclusive interview with The Pioneer, ahead of his big show in Hyderabad, the well renowned lensman discusses work, hardships and the idea behind exhibiting work to art enthusiasts.

‘Fourth Eye’ is his most celebrated work, which depicts life beyond the third dimension with an emphasis on human emotions. Elaborating further on the concept, the master photographer shares, “My last exhibition was launched by Oscar award winner Tim McGovern. The main concept of the exhibition focuses on how our lives before and after Covid were different. The lives of the kids have become more like a robot. For instance, Education. We give kids a target and expect them to reach the target by hook or by crook.

As a photographer, I had witnessed this, the conflict that’s within the kids, and them not getting proper love that they deserve, because both the parents are working. Another conflict here is technology. These days we see even li’l kids on social media. Infact, they spend much of their time scrolling through the feed. Since both the parents are working, they do not have enough time to give proper guidance to them. We’ve made our kids work like robots, and so, I’m making my son do homeschooling. I’m trying to make him connect to the nature, and take him to different placed so he can easily learn different things.”

“I’m going to exhibit 67 pictures. Since the kids these days have agony within, I’m trying to show the happiness through it, like a happy ending,” shares Dr. Vajranabh speaking of his upcoming solo exhibition ‘Conflict’. “We always say ‘what a childhood we had’. But are the kids of the current gen getting it? I’m trying to show the conflict in the exhibition.”
For most of us, a set back can put us in deep misery, oftentimes not allowing us to get past the bitter experiences. A tragedy of grave nature occurred in 2015, which immobilised the filmmaker for over a year.

Sharing details on the incident and how he had overcome hardships, he recalls, “I have bagged over 100 awards being an art filmmaker. In 2015, I met with a spinal accident and was bed-ridden for around 1 year and 2 months. I was told that I would not be able to walk in future. Only my one leg and one hand could move and then I thought what’s next? I’m a very good meditator. Later, I was able to sit in a wheelchair, and then went to a camera shop and purchased a camera and other equipment. They asked me if I knew photography and I was like no, they were shocked. I came home and practiced for like 3 days and called a model and captured pictures and that photo has got viral in India. And then slowly I started walking. Even now I cannot sit properly but I’m able to work.”

Though he has not been able to travel to other countries. However, his artworks did. Artists from different countries refer to his work.

While for any photographer, in order for them to get that perfect shot, they have to do multiple takes. However, in his case its completely different. Being an avid meditator, he simply gets the perfect click in just one go.

Contemplating on the economics pertaining to the craft, he explains, “There are many photographers who focus for commercialisation but when it comes to exhibition, it’s your chance to bring out your perception and ideology. If we do commercialisation we would get money, but through these platforms you can pass the message, bring awareness on certain social aspects. Everytime that I do an exhibition, I use a certain concept.”

The risks involved in capturing the grim realities of the land can’t be ignored. Here, our guest recalls one such incident that shook him up from within, “I had gone to Delhi, to shoot about child trafficking and had to face a lot of hardships, few took my cameras, and some had warned me to go back. In India, the art collectors who used to come to these exhibitions have decreased. And that’s the reason why photographers feel why to risk ourselves. After covid the arena of photography has changed.”

Meanwhile, when asked about his favourite concept from his work, he says it was ‘Tug of War’. Explaining more about it, he goes on, “The little kids in Kashmir have got only two options; either to hold guns or hold pens. Many of these little kids are taken to train them for terrorism. I had gone to Kashmir to do this research and shot the concept, which had also bagged a huge acquaintance.”

Thanking the Director of Language and Culture, he concludes, “I am a Telangana native. I want to Thank Harikrishna sir, who had previously seen my work in the past in 1973, an untold story that I had done on Pharmacy. The concept had bagged 50 plus international recognitions. Recently when i met him and told about this upcoming exhibition, he was like the Telangana govt is with you. So they are presenting the show.”

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