Lens by chance: The story of an accident

by csbhagya

Photographers Ajit Kalle and Sridhar Parthasarathy probably met by accident at Tata Unisys, and discovered they shared a passion for photography. While Ajit found an old camera and a series of slides well hidden in his cupboard, which later spurred him on to take up photography seriously, Sridhar felt a desire to tame next-generation cameras and ad-hoc technology.

Their first show ‘Where is India Going? by The Accidental Photographers’ is on at Caperberry from May 8 to June 11.

“We were in the same company for 20 years, but we had been shooting before we met,” says Parthasarathy. “We call ourselves ‘accidental photographers’ because we stumbled into photography. Our subjects were also, typically, revealed to us accidentally.”

For both Kalle and Parthasarathy, their professions have left an impact on their style. “I’m an engineer by training and aptitude. My subjects are characteristically very structural, in which, I try to bring out emotional content,” confesses Parthasarathy. “Kalle is more a logician and is inspired artistically,” he says.

Their first collection is a culmination of four years of photography and presents their unique vision of India: one filled with contradictions. Photographs like ‘Missed Future’, ‘Kambala’ and ‘Plurality’ seem to evoke a sense of nostalgia for the India that no longer exists and a longing for the India that could have been.
Others like ‘What would you want me to be’, which shows a potter moulding a clay pot, seem to points towards the immense potential in the country. In the centrepiece ‘Management’, a man tries to control a bull in the middle of a high tide; both the sea and the bull are sinuous and meld into each other.

Commenting on whether there are certain subjects he prefers and returns to regularly, Kalle says, “There are no set themes that I fall back on. For instance, when taking a shot of a bird, you either get it or not. That’s what interests us, how we get a shot which has something to say, even if the definition only becomes apparent afterwards.”

Parthasarathy agrees. “We arrive at a location and go with the flow. For us it is more important to enjoy the moment and to record it is only secondary.”

Parthasarathy admits that they try to be slightly clever with the titles. “They are not straightforward and have a second layer. We shoot instinctively; only later do we sense the underlying themes and choose titles,” he says, and, Kalle is quick to add, “We don’t try to prescribe or direct a viewer to experience the photographs in a particular way. We just try to show people things, the way we see them.”

Ask them on what aspects of the medium their individual interests in photography converge and they laugh. “We don’t converge on anything. We argue all the time,” Parthasarathy says. But Kalle feels that’s what’s best about photography. “Each can have his own space, own division and own opinion. Whatever decision we make, there’s always that level of unpredictability, which makes it all the more interesting,” he says.

Published in DNA, May 19 2010

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