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Unheard and lost voices

Photographer Amit Mehra  

One can almost hear the quiet voices emerge from the photographs at Kalakriti Art Gallery. The pictures of the Valley, taken by Amit Mehra, bring forth a fresh perspective of this Paradise on earth. Empty deserted house, snow-capped environs with empty plastic chairs and electric overhead wires and people in prayer…the images leave an everlasting impression on viewers. “My work is about the alienation of a society. It is not about the inspiration. It is not about the freedom or non-freedom of Kashmir. It is about how it got alienated and with it, how a society gets affected. And when we say society, it is not only people but also the landscape gets affected and men and women get alienated not only from the society but from within themselves,” points out Amit Mehra.

The photographs were taken in a span of five years, between 2006 and 2011 and included 25 trips to the Valley. “There were many, many, photographs taken; currently only 1/3rd of the images are displayed at the exhibition,” he states.

It is interesting to note that he has shot the photos through wire and glass windows. “Those are metaphorical pictures,” explains Amit. “There is a mixed reaction about us Indians among Kashmiris. There is a lot of mistrust between India and Kashmir.” One image looks like a sheet of white snow and one cannot miss the three electric overhead wires at the front. “There are a lot of obstacles between us. It is again to show that there are two sides of the story. We are on one side and they are on the other.”

Initially it was not easy for Amit to mingle among Kashmirs and earn their trust. “It was not easy for me; once they realised that it is not about India and Kashmir but all about humanitarian and non-humanitarian grounds, they opened their hearts and houses. They are wonderful people and have a lot of harmony and compassion,” he recalls. Amit reiterates that he wanted to present a different side of Kashmir, away from the limelight and stereotypes. “It is not about the beauty or conflict. I wanted to show what happens to a torn society; There is so much depression, negativity and anger,” he observes.

Amit is working on two documentaries, on Sufism and old Delhi.

The exhibition at Kalakriti is on till April 10.


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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 4:35:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/amit-mehras-photographs-capture-a-different-side-of-kashmir/article8409364.ece

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