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Watching the world beyond

Sudarshan Chari's works

Sudarshan Chari's works  

Sudarshan Chari’s works that are on display at the Chennai Photo Biennale capture more than just a moment. They capture people’s aura

Sudarshan Chari, a.k.a Vicky, wanted to travel. That was clear to this avid photographer, who had suffered for years from chronic colitis and IBS, that had kept him grounded. The world was slipping by and he had to grab it, somehow. At the age of 11, after his father passed away in a plane crash, his mother moved the family to Madras. He went on to complete his engineering in 1998, but resisted going abroad for higher studies. His gut feeling told him he was bound elsewhere. And that was when Vicky, who had never held a camera before, became fascinated with photography. In 2001, he joined G. Venkataraman and trained under the ace photographer. Two years later, he branched out and launched a successful career in advertising. However, a decade later, increasingly incapacitated due to ailments, Vicky became depressed. He realised amateur photographers across the world were taking interesting pictures. “Anybody with a phone can be a photographer today. The whole image I’d constructed of myself came crashing down!” he says. He started to shoot everyday scenes, preferring a small camera so he could get close to his subjects. This shift in perspective gave him a new lease to find his ability to reveal the hidden. Seeing his nephew prancing behind a curtain, he grabbed his camera. “Mystics have the ability to sense your persona. I wanted to capture the aura of people, their energy, through photography,” says Vicky.

Sudarshan Chari's works

Strangely, Vicky recalls he was not drawn to photography by the magic of taking pictures. He was wooed by the camera’s technology. And who can forget his first love? The first picture for his series ‘Beyonder’, showing at the Chennai Photo Biennale in the city, was shot from his own terrace with his adept knowledge of light, exposure and image. Towards sundown, he focused on the parapet for four seconds, and then panned the camera across for another four, using it like a light-brush. The resultant image is like a painting with textures, perspectives and hazy after-effects. Vicky went to the beach in Puducherry. He lay low on the sand and took a shot of people playing by the waters. All his shots capture actions over time, not just one moment.

Sudarshan Chari's works

Next, a friend from Bhopal, Vicky’s birthplace, invited him to shoot in 2014, 30 years after the gas tragedy. He landed in a world of warm and generous people. An unknown resident offered him his two-wheeler and his unwilling son as escort. After the first ride, the boy became a willing chaperone. A conservative Muslim family opened their home and allowed him to take their portraits. In Bhopal, Vicky discovered how his instinct could open up the photographic moment. At a fair, he took a snapshot of a woman paying a vendor for a balloon she had bought for her son. A friend who saw the photograph noticed that the mother was still getting change from the vendor, while the child clutching the balloon was already eyeing his next acquisition. The image revealed something he did not consciously register, but his mind however had. “I think all of us are time travellers, journeying through space and time, collecting experiences that go into this bank of universal consciousness. And some people know how to tap into them.”

Today, professionally, Vicky shoots only an ice-cream brand that gives him complete freedom to do the styling and photography. His observation, ‘People in situations push you into images’ is also true of how we pace our lives.

Beyonder is on at Connexions, Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park, through March 2016.

Observations of a Time Traveller is on at The Muse, Gallery Veda, in Taramani.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 3:59:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/the-world-through-sudarshan-charis-eyes/article8300171.ece

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