The other side of vulnerable
Sixteen-year-old Aakash Yadav loves the monsoon. The puffs of grey, the chaotic droplets and gusting winds are palpable entities in his photographs that range from black and white to colour. “I find people are at their most vulnerable during the rains. And, that’s when I like to capture them,” he says, holding up a photograph he took at the Gateway of India of a girl playing in the rain.
Yadav, who stays with his parents in a south Mumbai slum, has been associated with the Salaam Baalak Trust — an NGO that provides care and protection to street children and aims to integrate them into the mainstream through education — for nine years. He is one of 12 children from the NGO to have trained in photography since January in a workshop organised by Iyanah Bativala, 17-year-old daughter of Sooni Taraporevala, screenwriter and photographer best known for her work in The Namesake and Oscar-nominated Salaam Bombay.
Photographer: Nagraj Mallapa
Location: Charni Road
“I taught them the basics, but I had to call in for professional help since I am still learning myself. Moreover,” she adds, “they are a rambunctious bunch.” Bativala, a Std XII student of Bombay International School, approached photographer Ayesha Broacha and photo journalist Sudharak Olwe for help. Olwe says that the children’s humble background worked to their advantage. “While their life is all about struggle, the upside is that they are street smart and learn quickly,” he says, adding that he trained them on how to be confident on field, taking pictures in a crowd, maneuvering around policemen, besides of course, the technical aspects of photography. The Tata Group provided five point-and-shoot cameras and a computer to kick off the project.
Photographer: Aakash Yadav
Location: Girgaum Chowpatty
This was the first time that children, all in the 13-17 age group, had held a camera. “Although some of us had clicked pictures from a camera phone earlier, they were random. They lacked meaning,” says Nagraj Malappa, 17, a Std XII student and the oldest in the group. His favourite turf for photography is Marine Drive and he is especially proud of a picture that shows a woman crossing cement slabs. “I like moving, action shots,” he says.
Photographer: Afrin Khan
Location: Charni Road
While theory lessons were taught at Bal Bhavan, Chowpatty, from 4 pm to 6 pm once a week, the students were left to their own devices during the outdoor shoots. The cameras were given to the teenagers who were allowed to experiment with it at their own time. “We could capture anything that took our fancy, but would have to explain why we clicked that picture,” says Heena, who feels her best picture was that of a bird perched on a tree. Eighty-five of these pictures have now been curated for a two-day exhibition at the Goethe Institut, Kala Ghoda.
Iyanah Bativala (second from right), a Std XII student, with the Salaam Balak Trust children at Bal Bhavan, Chowpatty. Pic/Tushar Satam
Kids In Focus
When: Oct 1, 5 PM – 8 PM
Where: Max Mueller Bhavan, Kala Ghoda