February 21, 2013.
It was a general catching up call with a photographer friend from Bangalore, talking about assignments, delayed payments, personal work and finding direction. Some 15 minutes into the conversation, I began receiving other calls on my phone. I cut the first few but they simply wouldn’t stop. When people who had otherwise not been int touch for months and even a couple of years called, I knew something was wrong. I told V I will call him right back and cut the call. And almost at the same instant a friend’s message appeared on the screen. “I heard it was a bomb?”
I ran downstairs and my mom, waiting anxiously at the door, gave me the news- there had been a bomb blast in Dilsukhnagar, barely a kilometer or two from where we lived. On a (relatively) calm Sunday evening I could have heard the explosion. Local TV crews had just reached the place and the first visuals were being flashed on TV. I quickly changed into a pair of jeans, picked up my camera and left for Dilsukhnagar. Rajiv Chowk is usually crowded till 10:30 in the night and the bomb blast only made it look more chaotic. I asked someone where the blast took place and I was in for a shock. There were two blasts, not one, at Anand Tiffins and at the bus stop where the buses to Secunderabad leave from.
The second blast site near Anand Tiffins. Continue reading
I have shot these photos on assignment for OPEN Magazine in November 2012. Five women from Andhra Pradesh’s Karimnagar district had earlier approached the State Human Rights Commission seeking permission to sell their kidneys to raise the blood money needed to have their husbands released from a prison in the middle-east. The husbands, who were not paid wages for many months, had resorted to a burglary along with another Indian and four Pakistanis and killed a Nepalese security guard in the process.
Karimnagar, along with East and West Godavari districts, has the highest rates of semi-skilled and unskilled labourers migrating to the middle-east from the state. Discussion about working conditions and exploitation of labour in the middle-east has been going on for quite some time in the Telugu media and when the story appeared, it sent shockwaves across the state.
Shivarathri Rena with her daughter Saritha.
In August last year, I was commissioned by a national magazine to accompany their reporter on a trip to the Andhra-Orissa border, or AOB as it is popularly called. The story was to be on the Janta Sarkars (people’s governments) that the Maoists have been trying to set up in the region, hoping to strengthen their hold over the tribals and establish a liberated zone. I was told not to expect many photo opportunities as the story was a hazy idea and the reporter wasn’t sure how it would shape up. I went nevertheless, not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to visit a region I have heard so much about but never been to.
We made two trips to different parts of Orissa’s Malkangiri district within a week’s time. The first trip was via Vizianagaram and Saluru to Gumma block in Orissa. The long distance and the urgency to get back to the plains before it was too dark meant I did not even get a chance to get off the car and had to shoot everything from the window.
Where Andhra Pradesh ends and Orissa begins, between Saluru and Sunki.
Mithali Raj, captain of the Indian Women’s Cricket team and world’s number one batswoman, at her Hyderabad home. For Tehelka.
Read the article by Shonali Ghosal here.
Pullela Gopichand, badminton coach and winner of the All England Badminton Championship 2001, photographed at his academy in Hyderabad. For Mint/Wall Street Journal.
Read the article on Mint