Photography Life & Style

Kandukuri Ramesh Babu’s frames evoke emotions

A photograph by Kandukuri Ramesh Babu

A photograph by Kandukuri Ramesh Babu   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Photographer Kandukuri Ramesh Babu trains his camera on stray animals to tell their stories

Photographer Kandukuri Ramesh Babu has been capturing street life of Hyderabad, telling stories of ordinary people. What came as a surprise to him were the many stray animals that appeared in his frames. He has a collection of around 5000 photos of street dogs in different poses and moods, and a small part of it was displayed in an exhibition titled ‘Portraiture of Compassion’ at Goethe Zentrum recently. He says, “I never planned to take canine photos; I was photographing people and also captured these animals unintentionally.”

Actress Amala at the show

Actress Amala at the show   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Portraits of compassion

Ramesh calls the dogs on the street the portraits of compassion. His frames do not show them as a symbol of poverty, desolation or less privileged. Glimpses of a dog yawning, staring into the camera or a pup having a quiet moment with its mother, form his collection. “When we say a street dog, it feels humiliating and looking down on these dogs. They have grace, compassion and are loving in nature. Even when they are hungry, they will wait near the doors of a house but will not barge in. They bark, bite, yawn, mate in an open space and quarrel and ponder. These actions are emotional and almost humane. I treat them as my neighbours or fellow beings.”

A photograph by Kandukuri Ramesh Babu

A photograph by Kandukuri Ramesh Babu   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Ramesh shares two incidents that helped him in this project.

During his days as a reporter, he had interacted with a woman, Aslam Shareefa. “She was married thrice and her fourth husband was in a critical condition and the house owner had asked her to move out. The husband died and there was no one beside her to share her sorrow. But a street dog stayed with her. We don’t really need a human being to be with us in such moments of pain,” he shares.

He also mentions a story by Russian novelist Ivan Turgenav that stayed with him about a worker and his pet dog. “An employee admonishes her worker and orders him to kill his pet. Even when the worker is about to kill it near a river, the pet looks at its master helplessly. Even then it has only love for its master.”

There is no human element in the photographs at this exhibition. “I don’t see a difference between human beings and them. They feel the same emotions and I see humanity in them,” he adds.

Kandukuri Ramesh Babu

Kandukuri Ramesh Babu   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

There is also the fear that people experience while walking on streets as dogs get aggressive during nights. “The problem arises when we we look at them as street dogs,” says Ramesh revealing he took injections as he was bit by them twice. “I too used to be scared and irritated with them. But now with my changed perspective, I consider them as human beings.” He says, “The animal too owns the street and problem arises when man considers it his own domain. Cows and dogs are like scavengers doing their work on street. Also, the way we (read human beings) shout and scream at family members, they also get into barking mood. There’s also this saying, barking dog doesn’t bite,” he says.

Owning the street

 

A photograph of a pair of two dogs standing guard on a street was taken at Parsigutta. He informs, “In the role of a watchdog, the animals bark when they see an an outsider.”

Actor and Blue Cross founder Amala Akkineni, who was the chief guest had pointed out the importance of canine sterilisation. “She told us that in the 27 pictures, only one canine was sterilised, and if a stray dog is not sterilised, it can have even 2000 puppies in its lifetime. She highlighted the danger and our own neglect in dealing with this issue,” says Ramesh.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 12:17:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/photographer-kandukuri-ramesh-babus-show-on-street-dogs-at-goethe-zentrum/article30979705.ece

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