A whole new world awaited visitors to an exhibition of photographs called ‘The Street Light.' Clicked by Santhosh R., a medical representative of Johnson and Johnson, he answered the “call of the camera” and followed his genes (his father, Rajendran C. is a photojournalist).

The result of his father's training and Santhosh's own unerring eye is an absorbing, even disconcerting but powerful collection of photographs with cleverly coined captions.

The exhibition is composed of black and white photographs. According to Santhosh, “Even life with its chain of ups and downs is composed of black and white.” But Santhosh's lens manages to capture more than black and white pictures – it captures predicaments and asks questions.

A large part of the exhibition throws light on the many façades of begging. In ‘Steel Will' a diminutive blind man begs for alms while holding a tall steel rod twice his height, perhaps a reflection of his staunch determination to survive! At the same time, in ‘Bare Bliss,' an elderly man uses a plethora of sacred chains to eke a living.

Frames to ponder

Some photographs raise questions – disturbing but necessary. ‘Monarch of his own Self' shows a bearded man on the street with multiple eye patches around his eyes. Is he blind? Or is he simply shutting out the ugly side of the world he lives in?

Children are prominently featured but with innocence tottering on the brink after battling poverty.

In ‘Nectar' a mother glances around while nursing her baby on the pavement. Her face echoes a mixture of stoicism and motherhood. ‘Delicious' shows a child intently licking her fingers while clutching a large bottle of water.

In ‘Fresh and Free' a child stands a foot apart from an open gushing tap and ignores it while blithely devoting his energies to standing on his toes and attempting to open another tap.

‘Limousine' shows a boy sitting on a hand-drawn cart, hugging his folded knees. The cart puller goes about his business unburdened and the boy nonchalantly looks ahead, as confident as any owner of a fancy set of wheels.

Santhosh uses a simple 18-55 mm lens to capture his images. He uses the opportunity afforded by his profession to travel in search of his subjects (whom he refers to as his “fellow members”) and to try and get to know them.

Santhosh emphasises that although his exhibition doesn't show the fancy side of life, the people captured in the photographs are happy and content.

This is espoused by ‘Siesta,' which shows two sleeping toddlers, mouths open curling against the folds of their mother's sari. Their bodies are covered with flies but nothing disturbs their deep stupor. Santhosh considers ‘Sunshine,' which captures a beaming child in the mist of her play as the antithesis of his exhibition. It is the single spot of colour (figuratively not literally) in his world of black and white.

‘The Street Light' shows a side of India that goes unseen and unheard.

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