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Showing posts from November 3, 2015

My Tryst With Street Barbers Is Cosmically Attached To Their Being

There are a lot of friends who always grumble there is nothing to shoot in Mumbai .. and than it depends on what you want to shoot ..I mean there is more to Mumbai than Mahalaxmi Dhobhi Ghats or the over stated Dharavi slums ,,

Luckily in my case I decided to shoot communities , religion culture rituals hijras and beggars garbage in my backyard.. now I create videos more than a single frame ,,

I can go on shooting Dabbawalas , I know most of them in Bandra , the moment they see me they stop their cycle and start chatting with me ,, more than shooting them I created a human bond with their work and their existence.


I once shot the whippers that beg whipping their bodies , I sometimes take their whip and lash myself too.. so I created a bond of humble humanity with them.

I shoot barbers is an understatement ,, I prolifically shot barbers,

The hijra community I dont shoot as aggressively or insanely as I did in my early years but I do shoot them on video..I give them a lot of respect an…

A Barbers Tale

Once a client who was a good friend and from a well off traditionally cultured family , took me into confidence he was very disturbed , he had one son , he wanted his son to get into his business expand it ,, but the truant son had other plans he was hell bent on learning hairdressing ,, which in terms of my friends family meant hajam barbers down the lowest order and social stigma .

I told my client to allow his son to do what he wants to do provided he continues with his higher studies too, his son called me and thanked me ,. and was going to be apprenticed to a  celebrity salon stylist ,,

After that I lost touch with the family ..and for many years my childhood friend Corrie Walia worked on my hair , he never took a dime and did some of the weirdest designs that had my mom freaking up the wall.

So perhaps all this adds up to my fascination of shooting barbers , I cant resist shooting street barbers , their simplicity , humility and their softness of tone ,,unlike some social barbe…

Some Pictures Simply Remain As Memories ,,

I shoot people with a smile , I dont get into conversation , and I dont ever take notes I dont carry paper or pen just my camera , and if I shoot a video than I take the details as I interview the person I shoot ,,

Of late I am shooting video to capture the street angst , street life I know immediately whether I should take a video or shoot a still sometimes both ,, I was tired the day I shot this at Pitru Paksha though I did shoot a few videos ,, I shoot barefeet  and after sometime the feet burn horridly ,,

I came to Flickr as a traditionalist photographer till late Fred Miller reminded me that I was a street photographer ,,, though I was emulating Tom Andrews those days at Buzznet ,, Tom was my first street photography experience , one of the best photographer magicians of Hollywood ,, silent , a non conversationalist I learnt a lot reading his pictures as a photography text book.. he was very young in 2004 2005 but I learnt ,, to unlean photography thanks to him.

There have been …

The Street Barber Holistically Heals You With His Scissor Hands

However at Banganga the venue of Pitru Paksha and religious tonsure where the North Indian Brahmin Bhaiyya offers all this along with the pind to his dead departed ancestors ,, parents ,, it is more razor hand than scissor hands ..

And they remove the hair on the head , the  moustache beard and even the eyebrows and arm pit hair , they clip the finger naiils too.

After the puja by the Pandits and the ingredients for the puja bought from Maharashtrian ladies at the Banganga Tank complex the devotees enter the tank, earlier they would place the leaves etc in the tank now it is placed in a huge cauldron..and the immersion of the pind is more symbolic  to save the fish fauna in the tank.

Most of the guys who come here as barbers may not be barbers , they could be tailors or carpenters or chaiwalas too , and they come to make a fast buck and you can see guys scalp with cuts and bruises and no detol no safety measures ,, but than faith moves mountains ,, and the Indian believes in Faith mo…

Nobody Would Call The Street Hajam A Hair Stylist

And yet he does a good job , working the magic of his fast moving fingers on a mans head ..he is humble and does not have the eminence or prominence of those that work in high end salons ,, but he is a force to reckon with and I have been fascinated with his work his humble origins , he is mostly from UP .. maybe Badayun or Meerut ,, but a North Indian migrant none the less .

There are those that move from street to street with their metal boxes in Bandra , than there are those that sit at the Lal Mitti Bandra Reclamation corner ,, or at St Peter Road sitting on a concrete block opp Baba Nagar Bandra.

There are many places you will find them at Parel Dadar and Hindmata .. but I shoot them at Bandra or collectively at Pitru Paksha Banganga ,, I love shooting barbers and mundan and religious tonsure ,, I have not yet shot a Khatna ,, male one lol .. circumcision.. but I will one day .

Almost all the street barbers at Banganga Pitru Paksha know me as I am the only one shoots them demoni…

Street Portraiture

I met him while returning from the Pitru Paksha shoot on 12 October at first he thought I was a Sadhu too.. I introduced myself to him and spoke to him about my Naga connection and my Naga Guru.. than I asked him if I could take his picture , he did not mind I shot a few frames .

There are some very interesting faces I meet on the streets that I shoot as candid s or take their permission before shooting them..

But the ones I meet almost every time I go to town are faces from the hijra community and I shoot them even if they dont like to be shot ,,and so I have over the years built a collection of over 20000 faces of the transgender from every walk of life .

I also shoot dabbawalas .. if I see them I stop them and shoot them, most of them know me so I hardly have any problem shooting them.. I took my camera to town this afternoon and shot some intriguing faces ...