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Gallery tells how to be ordinary again
The huge frames of pure non-digitised or uncropped photographs taken by journalist, writer and photographer Kandukuri Ramesh Babu of Karimnagar of Telangana captivates the visitor by stirring memories, making them humble again. Subjects Ramesh chooses are real, they are not asked to pause or pose allowing him to freeze that moment.
The simple but captivating gallery painted in black and white was started by Ramesh three months ago with the collection of 80 frames under the "Samanya Sastram” heading. Then was the critically acclaimed "Enda Poda”, a series of photographs with different shades of sunlight, sometimes bright and sometimes gruelling and the forthcoming "Celebrating the ordinary” a passionate look into the ordinary people.
"I am a journalist by profession, writer by choice and photographer by passion,” says Ramesh setting up his gallery for the upcoming exhibition. All he has done is to depict the life of Telangana in a natural way. "It is the day-to-day Telangana, the part of Telangana that has been neglected for decades, the unsung Telangana. That is why one of our friends from the University of Hyderabad during the launch of my books has coined a word 'Ordinarology' the science of the ordinary people, for my kind of work,” Ramesh says.
"With the advent of social network, the people are craving for information but I say that people should look for wisdom. As journalism is nothing but literature in a hurry I published 12 books on Ordinarology,” he said. Initially, he published profiles of ordinary people and the 13th book "How to become ordinary,” was meant for those who have no time to read all the 12. In that book he asked a simple question of when will you live your life? "We are spectators of our own life, we are observing and criticising it but when will you start living our life? My effort was to remind you of that,” he said. Then he thought that many might not even have time to read a book.
"There is no way that present day people have time to read my kind of books. People are going to distances to see places. Why can’t they see that there is a river in the cloud in front of them. One doesn't have to go to Varanasi to see river Ganga,” Ramesh points out. Hence, he decided to show his concept through photography.
"I show the energy of ordinary life and the way how it unfolds, it is a poem. As the city dweller has no time to stop and see a beautiful aspect, I make them stop and see the normal life at my gallery,” he says. He believes that photography has the power of conversing with the view like the temple architecture.
Working in his father K Kishan’s s three photo studios in Yellareddyguda, Ramesh learnt the nuances of photography. He came to Hyderabad in 1997 as a journalist. From 2006 he published books. He took a sabbatical for a year in 2010 to work on the profile of eminent photographer Raghu Rai. For a year he worked with him hoping to write a book on him, and observed his work from very close quarters. He then started his page on Facebook under "My City My people” portraying the village that lives inside the big city like Hyderabad.
"I think that no one else has tried to capture this side of the city through his camera. I am lucky that the village is still alive here, without which my work would have suffered,” he says. "My protagonist is none other than myself, the common man. I am alive because the village in Hyderabad is still alive. The spirit is truly folklore; the dark skinned people reflecting the rooted spirit of culture. My protagonist is not civilised, the civilised loots, encroachers but my subject stays here. That is why others who come here to Hyderabad looking for work settle here easily.”
Ramesh believes that Hyderabad is beautiful because it allows others to grow. "The common man waited for six decades to question the encroacher to leave, at the same time allowing the perpetrator to live here for 10 more years, such a humble man. That is why he is dark in colour, as he won’t change colours. He has his own odour, temperament and his own vision,” Ramesh says talking about the true colours of Telangana.
Ramesh says that he is more after life not after art. "I would have completed the book on Raghu Rai and made money. But I killed that idea, I didn’t complete that book. Through my gallery I can show my work in my city to my people. I don’t go to other places to shoot there and exhibit here, I only exhibit Hyderabad. This is a blessing and privilege, this is international for me,” he says.
He has set up a mirror at the entrance of his gallery just to tell the visitor that he also has been framed at the gallery. "Mirror is always the first and beautiful image of you. Basing on this you say whether a photographer did a good job or not,” Ramesh said. He has captured the image of every visitor in his true form at his gallery through the mirror.
"The people captured in his photographs follow a very philosophy in life, wherein they excel in finding happiness in small leisure regardless of the hurdles and struggles that they come across,” a visitor to the gallery wrote.