K. Ramesh Babu’s pictures weave a narrative on the common man

How often do you pause to admire the beauty in the ordinary? The chai-wallah near the office compound who cannot be spotted without a smile; the women at the temple, their faces reflecting deep faith. Or think about the auto driver who made you laugh; Sure, we pass them by everyday; different versions of them, at least, but we don’t stop to admire, we simply go on.

K. Ramesh Babu’s exhibition of photographs titled, ‘Samanyashastram’ up on display at the Muse Art Gallery, is a celebration of the ordinary.

A journalist, writer and photographer, Kandukuri Ramesh Babu has brought forth an idea that the common man’s contribution to society is commendable, though it may have gone unnoticed.

The series of photographs has captured the lives of ordinary men and women in Hyderabad, across various times. One of the pictures of a truck carrying Goddess Kali is so dramatic; a lensman peers to capture the deity and a dissimulation of birds against the sky. While it might not be a perfect studio composition, the sheer drama of the picture makes it stand apart.

Flip through the entire collection and you’ll find an old man by a temple wall, his legs conquered by gangrene, he is seen taking refuge behind the naamam, gently staring into the camera, most endearing and inspiring. Most of the pictures, Ramesh Babu says, were taken in a distance between Parsi Gutta and Banjara Hills, and in Kolkata and New Delhi.

When asked as to what he looks to capture, he smiles and says, “Manishi meeda eegalu muruthunna moosuruthunna, chirunavvu kosam choosta (Even when there are flies flying around a man, I look for the smile ),” he says. He talks about the photo he took in Kolkata, where a man is pulling the rickshaw, the others sit, their head held straight, looking right at the lens.

“The real hero is the ordinary man,” says Ramesh. “They don’t crave to be in the ‘page 3’, nor do they ask for help. They just go about their business, with their head held high,” he adds.

Ramesh Babu is currently writing a book on the celebrated photographer, Raghu Rai. Having founded Samanyashastram — a community publishing house with friends, he has published 12 books. Most of the works are based on the lives of unsung heroes and the values for which they strive despite odds.

“Photography is not a subject for me, it’s my life,” says Ramesh. In celebrating faces, people and natural elements, Ramesh Babu claims, he finds his true inspiration and the strength to go about life.