An unobtrusive view from the street

The story of Roy is a page from the life of several children who leave their homes and land up in shelter homes

December 30, 2013 10:57 pm | Updated 10:57 pm IST

HOME. STREET. HOME: Vicky Roy; Edited by Sanjeev Saith; Pub. by Nazar Foundation, B-1/1802 Vasant Kunj, New Delhi-110070. Rs. 1000.

HOME. STREET. HOME: Vicky Roy; Edited by Sanjeev Saith; Pub. by Nazar Foundation, B-1/1802 Vasant Kunj, New Delhi-110070. Rs. 1000.

You are plunged into the world of children living on the streets and in shelter homes, from the very first page of Home Street Home. The pictures are touching, unobtrusive and self explanatory.

What is different in this book, though, is that it is an insider’s view, from one among them — Vicky Roy.

The story of Roy is a page from the life of several children who leave their homes and land up at railway stations or shelter homes.

When he was 11, Roy had stolen Rs 900 from his uncle and landed up at the railway station. A train brought him to New Delhi, where he was found crying at the railway platform by other boys who roamed the station.

Roy’s story takes a turn for the better, as his book suggests, as he finds his mojo with photography, more for the love of travelling, to start with. And indeed the camera takes him places, as he works with different photographers, participates in projects and even ends up having lunch with Prince Edward at the Buckingham Palace. A huge leap indeed, for 25-year-old Roy, who hailed from Purulia, West Bengal.

Roy’s point of view comes through in his pictures, in the attitude of the eight-year-old child, also called Vicky, who begs. Or the bond between another seven-year old child (who begs for a living) and a dog, under Delhi’s IIT flyover.

Mirth and attitude Some mirth and Roy’s sense of humour become visible in his pictures on children taking a bath on the street, playing foot-ball or the locker-room with their under-wear hanging from their respective lockers.

Roy’s visual maturity comes through in a picture of the boy in a sick-room at the Aasra shelter-home in Paharganj, watched over by others in the adjoining room, through a glass-paneled door. A similar picture of their television room at Salaam Baalak Trust-run home Apna Ghar also reflects Roy’s constant experimentation with the story he seeks to tell his audience.

The picture of 13-year-old Rekha and 5-year old Mangal, flower-sellers at Delhi’s uppity Jor Bagh traffic light, pulls at your heart strings. And there are several such profiles. Young balloon sellers, flower sellers, shoe-shine boys and children who beg on the streets or at railway stations – a scene that is common place to any city in this country.

Street children sitting on the railings as people go about their daily lives in the trains zipping by, or young children curled up in corners catching a nap, are tinged with sadness, against the backdrop of the big city around them.

Steady hand That Roy was a child that roamed the streets becomes almost incidental, as the pictures reveal a mature, technically-sound photographer.

In fact, Roy has schooled in photography — a course in documentary photography from the International Centre of Photography (New York). Naturally, his pictures reveal his comfort in capturing movement, water splashes, light and so on. Helped with a fine editing hand, Roy’s pictures effectively communicate his view-point.

Why Roy chooses to shift from black and white to colour is unexplained, as is the period over which these pictures were shot – something that would give us an insight into Roy’s age when the pictures were shot, and the complexity of his thoughts.

Through the years, Roy tells us he has graduated from a Kodak KB10 to a Nikon F80 film camera to a Canon Mark 2 digital camera.

With several awards and credits under his wing, including being a gold medalist at the International Award for Young People India, and participating in a host of exhibitions including Street Dreams, supported by the British High Commission – Roy has started a photography library, with his friend Chandan Gomes, two years ago. With support from photographers, the library has 300 photography books and catalogues, he tells us.

Home Street Home is financed and supported by several patrons including photographers in the country. It is published by Nazar Foundation, a non-profit trust funded by photographers Prashant Panjiar and Dinesh Khanna, to promote photographic arts.

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