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Fresh look at the familiar

Romil Sheth's black-and-white pictures lend a new meaning to everyday images


ROMIL SHETH, a young practicing architect from Mumbai, calls his exhibition of photographs Exploration of The FamiliarPeople, Places, and Patterns. A keen eye and a fine sense of timing are evident in the 30 black-and-white photographs, currently on display at Alliance Francaise de Bangalore.

Quiet charm

In Romil's images, the viewer is able to perceive elements of quiet charm as well as disquieting calm, even as the photographer tries to define his visual vocabulary by capturing spontaneous happenings of everyday life. Particularly appealing are the street scenes shot randomly, where Romil cumulates seemingly disparate elements at a precise moment to create a new dimension. A crammed market place shows a bindi seller stretching out to arrange his wares, oblivious of statues and posters of gods and goddesses looming over him. A couple stands in a public place posing for a photograph — the point of interest is not in their poise or the flashing of light by the crouching cameraman, but in the smiles of two onlookers!

In another picture, while the Ganesha idols are being immersed in the sea, the close-up of a group of devotees, who have probably finished their task and returning home, and a hovering helicopter in the sky combine to make an interesting photo-collage.

Romil is also in his elements capturing children on the streets. While some of them are sighted lighting lamps, others are playfully enjoying a lazy day. In one particular image — split into two by a dissecting pole — young girls are seen enjoying some eats in one half, while the other half shows a young boy perched on a high stool, with a curious expression on his face.

Eye-catching images

There are several other equally eye-catching images in the exhibition. Gathering clouds on the horizon add a special feel to a photograph, which incorporates crowded and uneven rooftops. Objects of worship, in another picture, are arranged neatly on a table, with a cell phone and a key bunch being the surprise inclusions. In yet another photograph showing a vacant toilet with a commode, the unexpected presence of a poster showing the face of a spectacled man, hung upside down, creates both humour and intrigue. Actors readying themselves for a performance, a naked sleeping child on a pavement, circular drums and plastic stools in a workshop, neatly stacked plastic chairs in a wedding pandal, fluttering curtain across the window grill creating an abstract illusion, a limbless beggar on a wheeled wooden plank, well-attired but grim-looking guests at a wedding reception, twisted contours of the bark of a tree, a languid beach scene... All these are captured by an agile camera and the vigilant photographer.

(The exhibition concludes today.)

ATHREYA

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