Although he leads two separate lives as a cop and a photographer but what connects the two is his love for people and it shows amply in his first solo show in the Capital.

Finally, Cop Shiva is here. After showcasing his work at prestigious festivals like Chobimela in Bangladesh and other countries like Srilanka and the UK, the Bangalore-based cop Shivaraju BS, who has garnered much appreciation for his photographs, is exhibiting in the Capital at Art Heritage Gallery as part of the ongoing Delhi Photo Festival.

A cop with the Karnataka Police, he dons the hat of a photographer in his free time but that doesn't make him an amateur or a hobbyist. Shivaraju in fact, doesn't want anyone to give much importance to his work as a policeman. “I am here as a photographer. These two lives that I lead are completely different. I don't mix the two,” says Shiva. But his love for people remains common to both his profession and vocation. The genre he has worked majorly ever since he took up photography in 2009 is documentary photography where he sets out capturing a life of an ordinary person with all its quirks and drama.

“My Life Is My Message” the body of work which is on display, comprising works from two different projects is about the drama that plays out in even ordinary lives everyday.

The real and the fantasy meet in Shiva's documentation of Vidyasagar of Bangalore and Bagedahalli Basavaraj of Kadur in Mysore.

Bagedahalli Basavaraj is a school teacher who dresses up like his ideal, painted in silver and roams around his village and outside spreading Gandhi's message. “I was on duty at Corporation Circle when I first saw him at Kannada Sahitya Sammelan in 2010. He comes to all such public functions dressed like Gandhi. I tracked him down and that is how I started following him. Now he calls me whenever he is going. He believes we desperately need Mahatma Gandhi today,” says Shiva, who is keen to build the project further.

His other subject Vidyasagar, a Tamilian living in Bangalore, who just can' t get over MGR, an icon in Tamil Cinema who went on to become popular politician. A civil engineer by profession, Vidyasagar lives the life of MGR by dressing up like him everyday. “He actually does that and people make fun of him but he is not bothered. The contrast between the star he emulates, his make-up, his colourful clothes just like what MGR wore in his films and his modest home, is stark. I love the fact that how they use the street like theatre,” explains Shiva.

While Basavaraju as Gandhi has been shot outdoors Vidyasagar has been documented in the confines of his house, with walls painted in bright colours accentuating the drama of his life.

The self-taught photographer likes to describe himself as a documentary photographer. “I started with the street observing mundane and ordinary things of life and from there I moved on to to become more specific. I am so comfortable with people and I love to document their life stories. I always needed to express myself through an artistic medium and my association with art space, 1 Shanthi Road gave me that opportunity.”

(The exhibition is on at Art Heritage Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam, till October 9)