Photographers capture intense moments being played out in the middle of deep forests and the haunting rhythms of life in rural India. Their works are on display at the Kasthuri Sreenivasan Art Gallery as part of the DJ Memorial Photography Contest.

A tiger crouches on the ground. It is stalking its prey at a national park in Bandhavgarh, Madhya Pradesh. A chital deer can be spotted at a distance. It is totally unaware of the animal waiting to prey on it. However, the body language of the three year-old semi adult tiger verges on overconfidence. And he misses the kill.

Wildlife photographer Sachin Rai who witnessed the incident also photographed it and perfectly captured the mood. The photograph won him the first prize in the Nature category at the second edition of the DJ Memorial Photography Contest organised by Lakshmi Machine Works (LMW) at the Kasthuri Sreenivasan Art Gallery on Avanashi Road. Hundred photographs shot by award winning photographers, bringing out the various hues of nature and rural Indian life are also on display at the gallery.

The top three photographs from the two categories have been awarded with cash prizes and certificates. Five other contestants have been presented certificates of honourable mention. You have a nilgai (the blue bull) looking like the Greek mythical winged horse Pegasus, captured by Jagdeep Rajput from New Delhi. You think your eyes deceive you, as antelopes don’t have wings. It is only on closer observation that you notice that the tallest flying bird in the world, the Indian sarus crane is right at it’s tail.

“The crane had laid a single egg and the bull stumbled upon the bird’s nest. The bird was shooing the bull away which is when I took the photo, making the antelope look like it has wings,” Jagdeep explains.

A colony of weaver ants makes a nest out of leaves, a rhinoceros and buffalo gear up for a fight, fox pups play with each other, a tiny fish flies above water and a couple of Malabar pied hornbills lock beaks in mid-air, forming some of the other brilliant images. There are also some candid photos of the lives of ordinary people in villages. There is a sharp image of a farmer ploughing his field late in the evening captured by Dilip Lokre of Indore, the lighting focussing on the sweat and toil he endures to earn his daily bread.

Culture extraordinaire

It is the diversity of the cultures of ordinary people that drives Dilip, who is a photojournalist with the Free Press Journal.

“There is a distinct change in the language, dress sense and customs of people every 100 kilometres. It is fascinating to capture these differences through the lens,” says Dilip.

You are drawn towards an endearing photo of some curious goats trying to wake up a child even as its mother snatches a nap. This won Santosh Jana of Midnapore the first prize. A group of women precariously carrying bricks on top of their heads speaks volumes of the harsh life they lead. Juxtaposed to this is the innocence and free spirit of children chasing a gaggle of geese in a stream, depicting the simplicity of rural life.

The judges

The judges for the contest were: Balan Madhavan, Fellow, International League of Conservation Photographers, Dr. M.S. Mayilvahanan and R.S. Iyer, Photo Editor, South Asia Associated Press.

According to S. Natarajan, Public Relations Officer of LMW, “The cash rewards that are offered in this competition are the highest in the country, which is why it attracts a large number of participants. Travel and accommodation of the participants are also sponsored, and the best photos will be used for our annual calendar.” He says it is an attempt to recognise talented photographers from all over the country and reward them.

The second edition had 4,401 photographs submitted from 19 countries to their online portal over a period of three months.

The contest carried a total prize money amount of Rs. 10 lakh.

The photos will be open for public viewing till Sunday, August 4.

The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.