melange Art

Colours and customs, on camera

Rajesh Pamnani captures different facets of Bonalu through his lenses.   | Photo Credit: arranged

People and moments

Saurabh Chatterjee teaches photography and likes to photograph festivals both by himself and with his students. “I am keen to see how differently I see the festival each year and if there has been an improvement in my photography. I’ve witnessed Bonalu as it happens inside Golconda Fort, Secunderabad Mahankali temple and Charminar,” he says. Saurabh is intrigued by the crowd interaction with Potharaju and striking faces at the festival. “The vibrancy in our festivals is unmatched,” he says, “and a photographer’s delight”. Making his way through narrow alleys and staying focused during the procession that involves large crowds is all part of the game.

A festival that blur divisions

Swarat Ghosh has been documenting Bonalu for two years. He likens the vibrancy of Bonalu to the festive spirit of Kolkata, his hometown. Now working in Hyderabad, he is keen on capturing local festivities of Bonalu and Bathukamma. “Last year was the first time I saw the festival at close quarters. So I shot typical photographs — of colourful pots, flowers, decorations, Pothuraju and people participating in processions. This year, I went looking for offbeat images. I photographed Pothurajus getting their makeup done and also came across dogs decorated for the festival,” he shares. What Swarat appreciates about the festival is the blurring of religious differences on ground. “I got to witness unity in diversity first hand when people across religions came together in the Old City to witness the celebration,” he says. Swarat is part of the street photography collective called ‘That’s Life’ and does photo essay assignments for NGOs.

In search of a narrative

This is the fifth year Rajesh Pamnani has been photographing Bonalu. Drawn by the colour and customs that define the festival, he has been visiting different locations where Bonalu is celebrated to capture the buzz. “The first year I witnessed the spectacle like a layman and took predictable photographs. The second year I focussed on the happenings at one temple. The third year I covered three other locations. The fourth year I captured the last day procession in detail. This year I focussed on people and how they prepare for Bonalu,” he says. Through his photographs, Rajesh looks for a storyline or a narrative that will connect with viewers. “A few years later the photograph should speak for itself as to why a certain moment was captured,” he says. The unpredictable weather is a challenge, he says, “The festival is spread across four weekends and one would be lucky if there is no rain at least one weekend.”


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 1:53:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/art/bonalu-festivities-through-images/article6249167.ece

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