Old Delhi – Life in a chaotic heritage
Photo Story
April 16, 2018

As the saying goes ....“Anyone can shoot chaos. But the most perceptive photographers can make compelling pictures out of uninteresting moments.”

We have with us Aniruddha Guha Sarkar who is more keen on developing his thoughts, skills and working discipline to be able to express himself to his own satisfaction and create street-documentaries on a few challenging socially relevant themes that move him.

History tells us that the walled city of Delhi was founded as Shahjahanabad by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan in 1639 and remained the capital of the Mughals until the end of the Mughal dynasty in 1857. Once filled with mansions of nobles and members of the royal court, along with elegant mosques and gardens, it is now over-crowded and dilapidated. Despite this decay and the high-profile presence of the national capital New Delhi at a stone’s throw on its south, it still serves as the symbolic heart of metropolitan Delhi carrying the heritage of a bygone era.

Delhi (or “Old Delhi” – as it is commonly called now) fell out of favor with the British and went into oblivion soon as the capital shifted to Calcutta after the fall of the Mughal empire. Since then, the city witnessed chaotic and unplanned growth as it’s famed walls slowly crumbled. It is now a commercial hub for the commoners sprawling through a labyrinth of alleys where crumbling mansions give company to endless array of shops and makeshift dwellings.

It is now a place where luxury cars jostle for space with hand-pulled carts and rickshaws in the narrow streets – often causing the decibel level to cross all permissible limits. It is now a place where migrant daily-wagers and busloads of pilgrims visiting the largest mosque in India often outnumber the residents. Also where chaos and struggle reigns supreme – from sunrise till the dead of night. It’s now a cauldron in which local traditions are constantly being pounded by migration from villages to the underbelly of our national capital.

This chaos and friction cause the most unlikely to coexist on the streets. Short of space, good part of emotional life of people gets played out in public. Through this chaos for generations, people have learnt to create their private space in public – immune to the chaos around, but still reflecting the dignity and heritage that is worthy of a human life.

This short series is not a documentary on Old Delhi, but an attempt to capture, often metaphorically, this chaotic coexistence and the dignity of life in that chaos. 



 About the photographer- Aniruddha Guha Sarkar

He is an engineer by profession and a part of the senior management in an I.T/ Software Services organization near New Delhi. He lived a corporate life for decades (he still do, but in a little different way) and spent years in glass buildings in various parts of the world.

A few years back, he started feeling claustrophobic and incomplete - a need to experience & express much more, which was always there, became irresistible. He started going out into unknown territories with his camera regularly over the weekends around 3 years back – till that time, he had a camera that got dusted and used only during family vacations. Since then all his passion and free time (which incidentally comes only during the weekends) are for Street Photography.

As a learning Street Photographer, his natural leaning at a personal level is towards a kind of minimalism – often metaphorical – to express certain existential thoughts. He has also drawn towards socio-documentaries within the boundaries of Street Photography for which, he try certain other techniques that he is trying to learn.

Though he did get shortlisted in a few competitions that he participated in (e.g. ‘Lensculture Street Photography 2015’ or ‘Moscow Foto Awards 2016’), he is  more keen on developing his thoughts, skills and working discipline to be able to express himself to his own satisfaction and create street-documentaries on a few challenging socially relevant themes that move him.

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